By Ashutosh Kumar

NEW DELHI: Satellite operators should complement terrestrial systems in helping to provide connectivity in unreachable or hilly areas where laying fiber doesn’t make sense instead of competing with them, said a top telecom executive.

“So there is some competition coming up for terrestrial IMT systems. Some satellite operators plan to provide backhaul in the first phase, some propose to compete with terrestrial systems.. But the best model is a collaboration between the two and complementing each other,” said Rakesh Mehrotra, former president, Tata Teleservices.

Speaking at a Webinar, hosted by the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), Mehrotra noted that spectrum being a resource should be auctioned and satellite operators have so far relied on the allocated spectrum.

“Now satellite systems are going to provide telecom services. In a market, there cannot be two sets of rules. In India spectrum has to be auctioned and so far satellite systems have not gone for the auctions, it is just by allocations.. And they want to remain in that position. Spectrum is a resource which has a use for the whole of the public where we can do the maximum utilisation,” Mehrotra said.

“So, the fact remains that terrestrial systems are best suited for dense, heavily populated areas. On the other hand, satellite systems have got universal reach and can complement terrestrial systems for connectivity,” he added.

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved a set of reforms for the space sector in June 2020 to allow the participation of private entities. The government also established the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centres (IN-SPACe) body which will provide a fair-play field to the private sector to use space infrastructure.

Then in October 2020, the Department of Space (DoS) proposed to enable Indian firms in using the existing space assets, develop services, launch satellites, and sell services abroad under the revised Spacecom policy. Understandably, private companies such as Amazon and Bharti-backed OneWeb have shown interest in launching satellite broadband services in the country. They have sought permissions to setting up ground stations and to launch satellite services, respectively.

OneWeb has already launched 36 satellites from the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia and plans to provide internet services in India by mid-2022, ET had reported. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has also shown interest in providing satellite broadband for rural areas in the country.

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