LEO satcoms: will India’s regulators be ready?

LEO satcoms: will India’s regulators be ready?

The Indian government is apparently gearing up to address the role of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites in the country – but whether this will mean a favourable regulatory system is as yet unclear.

According to local media reports we can expect – fairly soon – a new policy for space-based communications that will underline the role of LEO satellite system operators in boosting broadband coverage, particularly in rural India.

One of the issues likely to be tackled, according to India’s Economic Times news service, will be framing regulations that look at ways to use LEO satellite constellations optimally without duplicating existing telecoms network infrastructure.

The Economic Times also says that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will shortly seek the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) views on issuing geography-specific permits for LEO constellation operators. Apparently some satellite services would prefer to operate regionally rather than countrywide.

OneWeb, SpaceX, Amazon and Tata-Telesat are among the big names likely to target this key emerging satellite internet market, where much of the vast rural population has limited or no cellular or fibre connectivity.

Satellite operators and equipment suppliers will no doubt be grateful for some move towards regulatory clarity – particularly on the rules around setting up in-country satellite gateways and associated infrastructure. Whether India’s regulatory environment will be ready when they are is, however, a moot point.

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