SpaceX To Seek Permit For Starlink Services
Last Updated on: 4th April 2023, 11:55 pm
SpaceX is set to apply to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for global mobile personal communication by satellite services (GMPCS) permit to launch broadband-from-space services in India under its Starlink brand.
The move will pit the Elon Musk-owned company against the likes of Bharti Group-backed OneWeb and Reliance Jio Infocomm’s satellite arm for a slice of the nascent market, expected to be worth $13 billion by 2025.
“We are set to apply for a global GMPCS permit,” a person with knowledge of the matter told ET. “This will be the first time SpaceX launches services for the global market.”
SpaceX has been working on the project for some time and has already secured the necessary approvals from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Department of Defense.
India is one of the key markets that SpaceX is targeting with its Starlink constellation of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The satellite broadband service would provide broadband access to remote areas of the country that are not currently serviced by terrestrial broadband networks.
The company is also seeking statutory approvals from the government for landing rights and market access. Once these approvals are received, it will be possible to start rolling out the service.
This is the third company after OneWeb and Reliance Jio’s satellite arm to apply for this key permit required to roll out high-speed space internet services in India. The other two companies are yet to receive the permits, but it is likely that SpaceX will be the last to do so.
Set Up Local Gateways In India
SpaceX is reportedly seeking permits from the Department of Telecom to set up local gateways in India. This would allow the space firm to deploy its global satellite bandwidth capacity in India, the people cited said.
The move is likely to pave the way for the launch of SpaceX’s Starlink service, which is set to provide high-speed internet access to underserved areas.
SpaceX has already begun testing the service in the United States.
If approved, the local gateways would allow the company to reduce its dependence on third-party providers such as SpaceX’s primary satellite provider, Iridium.
The Department of Telecom is reportedly supportive of the move, as it would provide additional opportunities for Indian companies to participate in the space sector.
Seek Approval From IN-SPACe
SpaceX is also expected to seek approvals from the Indian National Space Promotion & Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) to set up the local gateways.
IN-SPACe is mandated to attract private capital in the space sector and has been working to establish the regulatory framework for the country’s space sector.
The California-based company has confirmed to ET that it is in the process of seeking regulatory approvals for its Starlink service in India. Once this is obtained, the company plans to expand its coverage into the country.
SpaceX’s Indian unit, SpaceX India, announced in January last year that it was seeking and accepting pre-orders for the Starlink service. However, the company was forced to backtrack after the communications ministry directed it to withdraw the initiative.
“We are in the process of seeking regulatory approvals for Starlink service in India,” an SpaceX spokesperson told ET. “Once this is obtained, we will expand our coverage into the country.”
SpaceX had initially said that the Starlink service would be available in India by the end of this year. However, the company now says that this would be done once regulatory approvals are obtained.