The Digital Communications Commission (DCC), the highest decision-making body of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), has given the green light to issue a separate license for setting up satellite earth station gateways (SESG). This move comes after the DCC approved the recommendations put forth by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in November of the previous year.
As per an ET Telecom report, under the proposed guidelines, holders of the satellite earth station gateway license will be restricted from directly offering any telecom or broadcasting services to consumers. Instead, their services will be made available only to licensed entities, such as telecom operators. Additionally, SESG holders will not be assigned any spectrum, as their role will not involve providing communication services to end-consumers.
The new SESG license is set to be valid for 20 years from the effective date of issuance, with an option for renewal for an additional 10 years. This regulatory development comes as a response to the need for a new framework for SESG, as the existing regime does not permit such players. Presently, a licensee is required to establish its own gateway to offer any form of satellite-based communication services.
Notably, several prominent players, including OneWeb (backed by Bharti Group), Reliance Jio's joint venture with Luxembourg-based SES, Amazon's Project Kuiper, Elon Musk-owned Starlink, Viasat, and the Tata-Telesat combine, are gearing up to enter India's relatively nascent fast broadband-from-space services segment. According to a report by EY-ISpA, India's space economy is projected to reach $13 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 6%.
The approval of the SESG license marks a significant step towards enabling the growth of satellite-based communication services in India and attracting major players to participate in the country's expanding space economy.