SpaceX’s Starlink is to go through a legal inspection which will be carried forward by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The DoT will be examining if SpaceX’s offer to pre-sell in India violates any of the existing telecom or technology laws of India.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will thoroughly examine the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, India’s Satcom policy, 2000 and the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, according to an ET Telecom report.
DoT and BIF Are Not Pleased With Starlink’s Pre-Selling Offer
An official from DoT said, that a notice may be sent to Starlink if a piece of legal evidence is found that Starlink’s pre-selling offer violates India’s existing telecom regulations. The telecom authority is wary and not only needs to find out if the offer in consumer interest and but also if it follows national security implications.
Starlink’s offer doesn’t appear to violate Section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885; since Starlink is yet to be established, maintain or work within the Indian jurisdiction. A “telegraph” is explained as any appliance, instrument or apparatus used for transmission or reception of signals, images, data and sound/ intelligence by wire or electromagnetic emissions, under the act. The DoT’s concluding views are not firm yet.
The Broadband India Forum (BIF) has recently requested the government to stop pre-selling Starlink’s beta version essentially because the US satellite operator doesn’t even have a suitable license or authorization to carry on its operations in India. It is to be noted that the BIF represents the likes of many MNC’s including the Bharti Airtel and UK government co-owned satellite venture OneWeb, Amazon, Huges, Google, Microsoft and Facebook etc.
Elon Musk owned Starlink has also been called out by the Department of Space (DoS) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) since it doesn’t have its ground stations in India. Further, it doesn’t have the satellite frequency authorization from DoT nor permissions from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for providing beta services.
US, Canada and the UK are already enjoying Starlink’s satellite internet services. The company is expected to start offering internet services in India by 2022. The satellites were also expected to be launched in their orbits around that time as well. However, Starlink’s project that was expected to start by 2022 might be delayed since the company has started to pre-sell its beta services without fulfilling the prerequisites such as applying for permissions or licenses from concerned Indian authorities. For any business to prosper internationally, they need to abide by rules and regulations laid by the country that includes applying for the prerequisites and Starlink needs to understand this.
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