Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are both going to be entering the satellite communications (satcom) market in India. Jio will be in the distribution segment while Airtel will be producing and distributing as it owns the satcom company OneWeb. Jio will operate its satcom business under Jio Satellite Communications Ltd (JSCL), which was incorporated only a few months ago.
Ahead of the 5G spectrum auctions, both Jio and Airtel have submitted their recommendations to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). This time, the spectrum auctions won’t just be held for terrestrial network service providers but also the satcom players. For the first time in India, private companies are entering the satcom space for providing commercial connectivity services.
Jio and Airtel Differ in Opinions
TRAI has to consider the recommendations given by all the stakeholders, companies, and industry experts. Jio says that spectrum auctions should be the standard way for every communication service provider (CSP) looking to offer commercial services to acquire spectrum.
However, Bharti Airtel believes that India should follow the global practice and should reserve spectrum for the satcom services and allocate it strategically to the satcom players.
Sunil Bharti Mittal had told ET that satcom players might not participate in case the government decides that spectrum auction is the right way to go for everyone.
The fact remains that TRAI can’t keep everyone happy. There will be one company left dissatisfied with the recommendations that TRAI submits to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Will it be Jio or Airtel, only time will tell.
Jio believes that auctioning the spectrum gives a fair opportunity to every company involved in getting hands-on the scarce natural resource that is ‘Spectrum’. Bharti Airtel strongly opposes this notion.
Even Vodafone Idea believes that the telcos and satcom players should both get the spectrum in an equal manner through the spectrum auctions to ensure a fair playground.