Elon Musk's Starlink is poised to be approved for providing voice and data communication services from space in India, Economic Times reported.
The government has expressed satisfaction with Starlink's compliance with data storage and transfer regulations.
“The answers given by Starlink to our queries look satisfactory… After the security check is completed, the company will be given a global mobile personal communication by satellite services (GMPCS) licence to offer services," an official was quoted in the ET report as saying.
This licence will enable Starlink to expand their offerings and reach a wider customer base.
Starlink had previously been requested by the government to provide clear responses regarding data storage and transfer, as their previous submissions were deemed unsatisfactory.
Starlink had assured the government that it would adhere to international standards regarding the storage and transfer of data, since it is a global constellation.
The Indian government rejected this position and insisted that Starlink adhere to Indian regulations regarding data storage.
"The company has now agreed to comply,” a second official was quoted as saying in the ET report.
Following the government nod, Starlink could become the third company to receive a GMPCS licence, following OneWeb, which is supported by Bharti, and Reliance Jio's satellite communications arm.
Amazon, led by Jeff Bezos, has also applied for a licence from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). However, the government has not yet taken up their application for discussion.
Satellite communication (satcom) service providers in India must obtain approval from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), which serves as the autonomous space regulator.
Under India's Space Policy 2023, IN-SPACe has been granted the authority to act as a one-stop agency for authorising all space activities conducted by both government and private satcom companies.
Following this, companies are required to wait for spectrum allocation by the DoT.
The government is currently awaiting the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regarding the allocation of spectrum for satellite services in the country.
However, these recommendations are not expected until a new chairman is appointed for TRAI, according to an official.
Starlink is making its second attempt to enter the Indian satcom market.
However, last year, the company had to refund pre-booking money to applicants in India due to a request from the DoT to obtain regulatory approvals beforehand.
OneWeb now merged with France's Eutelsat, and Jio are aiming to rapidly launch its services to gain an early advantage in the emerging Indian satcom market, which has significant growth potential.
They are competing against companies such as Starlink, Amazon, and Tatas.
According to a report by EY-ISpA, India's space economy is projected to reach $13 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 6 per cent.
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