OneWeb, a global satellite communications company, could get all the necessary permissions to start commercial services by July this year. Sunil Bharti Mittal, executive chairman of OneWeb, also expects that India's spacecom policy would be announced soon. Bharti-backed OneWeb could soon have all the statutory approvals for starting services, including the landing rights and market access clearances. OneWeb would most likely become the first company to launch broadband from space services in India, and that would give it a major first-mover advantage.
According to an ET report, Mittal also said that the spectrum in India for satellite communications should be administratively allocated and not auctioned. OneWeb India has already put in an FDI (foreign direct investment) application to the government of India. The company would seek FDI from its holding company. Currently, OneWeb India is completely owned by Bharti Airtel.
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It is worth noting that OneWeb India has already received the GMPCS (Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite Services) license from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). OneWeb would get an upper hand over companies such as Starlink because of launching the services first. Starlink could also make a move in the Indian market once the government unveils the spacecom policy.
Mittal said that for individuals, the cost of using space broadband services would be more than what he/he has to pay for mobile services currently. But if a community of 30 to 40 homes were to use it, for example, in a village, then the cost would come down. He also said that India is now in a good position to become the global manufacturing hub for user access terminals (UATs), which is a key piece of satellite gear needed to deliver high-speed satellite broadband services to end users. If the company gets all the necessary permissions by July, it might also launch services soon.