American aerospace manufacturer, space transportation services and communications company SpaceX plans to partner local firms to make satcom equipment in India. This is likely to include antenna systems and user terminal devices.
The company’s high-speed Starlink satellite broadband services will launch in the country next year and the company indicated its plans for local partnerships during SpaceX’s first official interaction with Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary Anshu Prakash.
In April the DoT directed SpaceX to acquire the required licenses before offering any service in the country. The company is now accepting pre-orders for the beta version of its Starlink satellite internet service in India.
Launch for the company’s satellite broadband services is likely to be in 2022, subject to regulatory approvals, though it won’t be alone; OneWeb and Amazon’s Project Kuiper may also be entering India’s satellite broadband market next year.
Nor was SpaceX the only company present at the meeting with the DoT, which also included officials from OneWeb, Viasat, Hughes, Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, the Department of Space and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
According to Indian press reports, the DoT had called a meeting with global satellite companies to discuss a roadmap for locally manufacturing satellite communications equipment and to look at ways to create an enabling regulatory regime for global low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation operators to establish in-country gateways in India.
The question of auctioning millimetre wave (mmWave) satellite spectrum in the 28GHz band for 5G mobile services also came up. This spectrum is currently used exclusively by satellite players in India, but mobile operators want the spectrum for affordable ultra-fast wireless broadband services, something the satcoms players will evidently try to resist.