India Likely to Go with Auction Route for Satellite Spectrum

It seems like the Indian government is likely not going to go with the method suggested by the satcom companies. Satellite broadband service providers had requested the govt to go for administrative allocation of the spectrum. But the telcos were against this as they felt it would create an unequal treatment scenario.

Highlights

  • The satcom (satellite communications) sector is heating up in India.
  • The telecom department would seek to go with the auction in a similar way as it goes for the telcos.
  • The DoT has suggested pricing the gateways on a PAN-India basis, assuming three gateways per city.

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Satellite Spectrum

The satcom (satellite communications) sector is heating up in India. Many private companies from across the globe are investing in the Indian market to be able to benefit from the scale of high-value customers they can get. But so far, the only thing that has not been super clearly put forth by the Indian government is how the spectrum will be given to the satcom companies. Now we know that the telecom operators get their spectrum through an auction organised by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). But that is something which the satcom companies don't want. Time and again, satcom companies have said that their investments will be hurt if the Indian government decides to go via the auction route for spectrum.

Satcom Companies Wishes are Likely Going to be Ignored

It seems like the Indian government is likely not going to go with the method suggested by the satcom companies. Satellite broadband service providers had requested the govt to go for administrative allocation of the spectrum. But the telcos were against this as they felt it would create an unequal treatment scenario. Even the Supreme Court order said that spectrum must be given through the auction route to maintain transparency.

Now, an ET Telecom report suggests that DoT is gunning for a spectrum auction for the airwaves to be provided to the satcom companies. The telecom department would seek to go with the auction in a similar way as it goes for the telcos. Just like the telcos have to get the spectrum from DoT for different LSAs (licensed service areas), the satcom companies will have to get the frequencies on an angular basis in latitude and longitude.

Along with this, the DoT has suggested pricing the gateways on a PAN-India basis, assuming three gateways per city. This would mean that there would be around 2000 gateways across the nation. The DoT is giving suggestions on the matter because TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) had told the department it is facing problems in coming up with an auction model for the satellite spectrum as in other parts of the world, the spectrum is given on an administrative basis.

Only in case the government can't find any methodology for conducting an auction for the satcom players will it consider going with the administrative allocation route.

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