The satellite communications (satcom) industry and the telecom industry are at odds about how the government should give spectrum to the communication service providers (CSPs). In 2022, for the first time, the spectrum will also be sought by private satcom players. Thus, the telecom operators aren’t the only ones who will be competing for the scarce airwaves.
Satcom companies believe that global practice should be followed, and the spectrum should be allocated in an administrative manner. Telecom companies say that it would be unfair if the satellite broadband companies get the spectrum outside of auctions as it will hurt the transparency of the process.
Here’s what you should know about this.
Satcom Companies Stance
Bharti Airtel has sided with the satcom companies and said that administrative allocation is the right way for satellite broadband services. Satcom companies want to avoid participating in the auction and competing for the airwaves with the telecom operators. According to Bharti Airtel, the Indian government should follow global practice and allocate the spectrum to the satcom companies in an administrative manner.
Satellite broadband is going to play a key role in the enhancement of India as a digital country. There are many areas of the country where terrestrial network service providers can’t reach. But satcom companies aren’t limited by reach and can offer services in the most backward regions of India without any hassle.
Telecom Sector Stance
The industry body, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), has asked the sector regulator to keep equal and fair treatment for all. If there are two companies providing similar kinds of services, they should be given access to the spectrum in the same manner. Thus, if the satcom companies are getting it for free, the telcos should also get it for free, demands COAI.
It is truly a hard decision for the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Whatever decision it takes, someone’s going to be disappointed. Further, it is a very crucial decision because it will determine how the satcom companies are going to look at India as a potential market in the near future.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is waiting for the TRAI to submit final recommendations. The recommendations were expected to come from TRAI by the end of March or early April. Both the time frame are gone now, and it looks like there might be more delays.
The telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had said that the delay on the part of TRAI in submitting recommendations wouldn’t affect the scheduled timeline for the spectrum auction. So we can hope that the 5G rollout in India won’t be too far from August either.
What way should DoT and TRAI go here? Let us know in the comments section below.