TRAI: Companies to Enable Bandwidth from Foreign Satellites

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Key Highlights:

  • Trai proposed a number of initiatives to expand the usage of satellite connection for low-speed applications and IoT devices
  • Companies such as Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea insist that the only way to provide spectrum is through an auction
  • Trai authorised the leasing of foreign capacity for longer periods of time as needed instead of three to five years

StrengtheningĀ Satellite Connectivity

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is a regulatory agency established by the Government of India under section 3 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997. It is responsible for overseeing the Indian telecommunications industry. TRAI’s objective is to establish and nurture the conditions for the development of telecommunications in India to enable the country to perform a leading role in the emerging global information society.

Recently, Trai suggested numerous initiatives to boost the use of satellite connectivity for low-speed applications and IoT devices, but refrained from proposing any spectrum allocation procedure for these services. According to sources, the regulator will only provide recommendations on spectrum allocation. Whether auction or administrative, after obtaining directions from the Telecommunications Department (DoT).

As satellite communications services increase in popularity, there has been a clear division in the telecommunications industry in terms of spectrum allocation. Companies like Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea demand an auction as the only method to allocate spectrum. However, Bharti, who is also a promoter of satellite startup OneWeb, opposes auctions for these services.

Satellite Assists in Achieving India’s Mission

For security considerations, licensees should be required to create an Indian earth station that matches the preferred overseas satellite system. To make services cheaper and more affordable, Trai allowed the leasing of foreign capacity for longer periods as needed instead of three to five years. Removing government relaxation for foreign ability, leasing satellite ability directly from selected foreign satellite ability, and reducing the role of intermediaries, and removing the prevailing expenses of network operations and the control center (NOCC). 

It is recommended that DoT establish a comprehensive single-window internet platform for all the agencies engaged in granting permissions, such as the department of space, DoT, etc., wherein companies can submit their applications, and the agencies answer online in a transparent and time-bound manner. All instructions, application forms, fee details, procedures, deadlines, and application status should be made transparently available on the platform. 

Low-bit rate applications and IoT devices require low cost, low power, and small size terminals. Many sparsely populated areas with important economic activities may not have terrestrial coverage or other forms of connectivity. Satellites can help bridge this gap by providing coverage to even the most remote areas and will help to fulfill India’s mission, Trai said.

Also Read: Reliance Jio to focus on customers than tariff plans

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