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Elon Musk’s Starlink all set to get approval from Telecom Ministry for starting services in India: Reports

A report by TOI quoting sources noted, “A high-level meeting is slated for later this month and Starlink’s proposal for a global mobile personal communication by satellite (GMPCS) services licence is expected to be taken up there.” Report added, “The meeting is likely to give an approval to the proposal, though we cannot rule out certain last-minute hiccups that may cause some more delays.” Starlink will become the third company to get GMPCS license in India, Sunil Mittal’s One web and Reliance Jio already have the said license.

Next steps for Starlink post GMPCS licensing

As per the report, despite the GMPCS license Starlink will also have to receive approval from different government wings and the Department of Space before launching operations in the country. In late 2021, the Elon Musk-backed company had got a scolding from the Telecom Ministry for taking advance money from subscribers for services when it hadn’t even procured the license. The Ministry had asked Starlink to start refunding the money to around 5,000 odd customers who had pre-ordered its services in India.

Elon Musk on Starlink’s importance in India

Following a meeting with PM Narendra Modi in the US, Elon Musk had said that Starlink can be ‘incredibly helpful’ in remote villages of the country that have no internet or lack high-speed services, reported Reuters. Starlink has been pleading with the Indian government to not auction the spectrum but just assign licences in line with a global trend, saying it is a natural resource that should be shared by companies. An auction may impose geographical restrictions that will raise costs, it said in company letters made public by the Indian government last month.

Conclusion

Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX may finally get to start its services in India after getting GMPCS license. For over a year proposal of SpaceX remained stuck in home ministry due to security concerns. This development will present competition to Reliance Jio and One Web, who already have GMPCS license in India. Ambani led Jio and Sunil Mittal led One Web would have ideally not wanted foreign competition. Starlink has been requesting India to not auction spectrum and follow the global trend of just assigning licenses. Reliance disagrees completely and has requested an auction from the government. It argues that foreign satellite service providers could compete with traditional telecom players by offering voice and data services, and so an auction is necessary to achieve a level playing field.

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