Starlink to soon provide broadband services in India

According to people close to the development, the DoT officials are likely to meet on September 20, 2023, to decide on awarding licence to Starlink to operate in the country.

Published: 24th August 2023 10:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th August 2023 10:31 AM   |  A+A-

Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Filephoto | AP)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk (File photo | AP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Elon Musk’s Starlink may soon get the license to bring satellite-based broadband to India. SpaceX, the parent company of Starlink, applied for the Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS) license with the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) last year.

According to people close to the development, the DoT officials are likely to meet on September 20, 2023, to decide on awarding the licence to Starlink to operate in the country. “The company has applied for the licence, and its application is under consideration,” said a DoT official.

Starlink, which provides its broadband services in 32 countries worldwide, has been trying to enter in India for a very long time. In 2021, the company started taking pre-orders even before securing any licence. However, DoT warned the company against taking any orders before opting to operate in the country. Then the company, which had launched over 2,000 low earth orbit satellites, had to refund money to people.

“We didn’t want to encourage any company to give services without licenses. We experienced it in the case of Skype, we couldn’t bring the company into a licensing regime. Now, it is out of our ambit, not following any regulation” said the official.

The official said it should be important to bring OTT communication apps like WhatApps, Signal, and Telegram into the licensing regime, not just because of licensing fees but for safety reasons. “If these OTT players are under the licensing regime, they are obliged to follow government directions. In case of any incidents like in Nuh or Manipur, we could have directed these apps to stop their services without having to disconnect entire internet services,” he added.

Starlink is the third company to apply for the GMPCS licence, after Airtel-backed OneWeb and Jio’s satellite arm, Jio Space Technology.  After it obtains the licence, Starlink will require the satellite spectrum from DoT’s wireless planning and coordination.

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