Iridium Cries Foul on BSNL-INMASAT Satellite Phone Deal

India’s satellite phone market gets a new interested party to make this space competitive. Iridium, American satphone company is looking for an entry but accuses government policies to prevent the space competitive.

Presently only state-owned operator BSNL is offering services with INMARSAT. BSNL received a LoI from the DoT on July 9 and signed a principle agreement with INMARSAT on September 2. BSNL now can offer satellite based voice & IP broadband services with proper guidelines from defence ministry.


Few days backs country’s tourism ministry has also expressed their view on easy permission for satphone use among adventure tourists as white zone areas like in Himalayas & north-east satphone can save hundreds of distressed tourists.

Iridium finds the deal between BSNL & INMARSAT very anti-competitive move as they did not get any chance to bid for this single slot.

India restricts the use of satphones on the concern for security as unlike traditional mobile networks satphones are bypassing security agencies’ radar. Earlier VSNL was offering services with this London-based operator, but as Tata bought VSNL, the service was terminated.

Also Read: BSNL to Tie up with Sistema to use GLONASS Satellite Navigation

In November Bharti Airtel’s African arm has made a deal with UAE headquartered Thuraya to launch its services in 12 countries of African continent. Etisalat controlled Thuraya is a very popular satphone services in middle east, but it is not allowed in India.

As DoT says on ‘Restrictions on the use of Satellite Phone’ : “Satellite phones are permitted only with specific permission from Department of Telecomm, Government of India. Presently use of specific type of INMARSAT terminals are only permitted as per details available under the link INMARSAT.”

As per our opinion satphone market should be allowed for private operators also, like Airtel. It can attract another lot of foreign investments. What Iridium has said, we think that’s correct. An auction for this single slot of satphone contract with BSNL would encash billions of money in government treasury.

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6 Comments on "Iridium Cries Foul on BSNL-INMASAT Satellite Phone Deal"


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November 27, 2014 7:10 am 7:10 AM

the money definitely wouldn’t find its way into the Govt coffers. It would either get pocketed on the way or a brilliant tax evasion stunt will be pulled off by the private bidder routing the amount via indonesia ireland etc. Raghuram Rajan will ensure the people are penalised for the action of privateers. Mallya’s Kingfisher’s enormous debts to banks are an example of the privateer flourishing and the crazy ATM restrictions (still no security guards) are an example of the people getting penalised for it.

November 27, 2014 7:02 am 7:02 AM

BSNL received a “Lol” from Dot???????


November 24, 2014 10:42 am 10:42 AM
The government must allow to create a new GSM network via satellite for BSNL that helps us to make 2 way calls and SMS, access 2G and 3G data, in roaming at affordable rates covering all over India .For example : The rural and remote areas are : > Salem – Hosur railway route after crossing Salem / hosur junction > Thalavadi forest after Sathiyamangalam (Erode district) > Dudhsagar falls > Subramanya road – Sakleshpur (karnataka) broad gauge track route in the ghat section > Munnar (kerala) > Maettuppaalaiyam – Ooty ghat road > Borra caves (Andhra pradesh) > All… Read more »