In India, Elon Musk SpaceX wants the new Satcom Policy to focus on access, not price

  • Focuses more on access rather than price
  • OneWeb and SpaceX get ready to start high-speed satellite broadband services in India.
  • SpaceX can pitch India as a $1 billion satellite revenue opportunity

In order to attract top dollars from global investors and boost satellite broadband penetration across rural India, Elon Musk’s SpaceX wants the government to ensure that the 2018 satellite communications policy “focuses more on access rather than price” of internet-from-space services.

In fact, new-age satellite broadband may cost seven to eight times as much as terrestrial broadband due to the numerous low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites involved.
Considering the potential benefits of satellite broadband in remote areas of India, it’s crucial the upcoming Satcom policy focuses more on access, not price, Sanjay Bhargava, the head of Starlink’s operations in India, told a local tv station.

“LEO-based satellite internet usually requires several satellites moving very fast to cover the world, which leads to it being at least seven or eight times more expensive than terrestrial broadband,” especially since the software required to run such operations is extremely difficult.
The Indian government’s much-anticipated new Spacecom policy is likely to emphasize the importance of LEO satellite systems in boosting broadband access, especially in rural areas. While OneWeb and SpaceX prepare to launch high-speed satellite broadband services in India next year, Bharti-backed OneWeb has announced its intent to launch the service in 2019.

A 100%-owned subsidiary of Starlink Satellite Communications Pvt Ltd (SSCPL), a company owned by SpaceX, was registered in India recently. By obtaining licenses, the company will be able to deploy Starlink connections in Delhi schools on the trial spectrum. According to reports, a restricted commercial license application will be submitted afterward.

If SpaceX can pitch India as a $1 billion satellite revenue opportunity, the company expects to attract global investors. If we can demonstrate that there are nearly 1 million access points for satellite broadband in India, and each point is capable of paying $1,000 (roughly Rs 7,500) a year for the service, then the market is expected to generate $1 billion in revenue each year,” Bhargava said.

This could spur many investors to invest in India’s emerging satellite broadband sector and pave the way for the country to develop its own constellation of satellites. It’s only a matter of time before we have a constellation of fully Indian satellites, the Starlink India president said. India is a great country with a lot of talent in the space (segment).

Starlink can serve as a catalyst, however, by providing satellite broadband (connection), but it would also need to work with many different solutions providers across several domains, such as education, industry, and tourism.

The CEO had said SpaceX planned to meet with India’s telcos earlier this month to begin discussions regarding deploying satellite broadband services in India’s hard-to-reach regions.

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