Will domestically supply and develop main Satcom tools in India, Telecom Information, ET Telecom

Calcutta: OneWeb, backed by Bharti Global, has announced to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that it will handle the local sourcing and development of key satellite communication equipment, including low-cost user access terminals and gateway ground station infrastructure, to build a domestic satellite device -cum component ecosystem in India.

“OneWeb has pledged to DoT Secretary Anshu Prakash to support local satcom equipment manufacturers and is in talks with several local indigenous procurement actors,” one person aware of the talks told ET. This was communicated recently during a meeting on ways to schedule satellite network equipment manufacturing in India.

OneWeb, owned by Bharti Global and the UK Government, is a low-earth orbit satellite communications company poised to take on Elon Musk’s Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper projects in the nascent high-speed broadband from space. SpaceX also recently announced plans to partner with Indian companies to locally manufacture satellite communications equipment, including antenna systems and user terminals, and is poised to roll out its satellite broadband services in India next year, subject to regulatory approvals.

OneWeb senior executives attending the DoT meeting called on the government to speed up the pending landing permissions so the company can quickly set up local ground stations and bring its satellite frequency capacity in the Ka / Ku bands (28 GHz / 14 GHz) India to ensure the timely launch of satellite broadband services by May 2022.

Landing rights and market access are required for OneWeb’s global bandwidth capability for satellite broadband users in India.

OneWeb declined to comment on ET’s inquiries.

The company has already identified land for the construction of two local satellite ground stations – one each in north and south India – and work will begin as soon as the company receives the landing rights.

During the meeting, OneWeb urged DoT to put in place a one-window release mechanism for issuing permits for satellite services such as GMPCS / VSAT, and also pushed for a drastic cut in the high regulatory costs for Satcom services with the aim of providing satellite broadband services cheaper and increase penetration.

Currently, regulatory payouts, including royalties, taxes and duties, account for nearly 50% of every rupee a Satcom operator earns in India.

Anil Prakash, General Director of the Satcom Industry Association of India (SIA-India), said: “All satellite-related services require approvals from multiple government agencies, be it for licenses, orbital positions, frequency assignments and such decisions at any level inevitably lead to delays and Cost to Satcom Operators. ”Satellite broadband has not yet gained mass consumer appeal like cellular services, as these services are around $ 20 per GB in India, almost 30 times the price of $ 0.68 for mobile data. The fact that Satcom players also cannot lease bandwidth capacity directly from foreign satellite operators and have to go through the Department of Space (DoS) increases the final leasing cost by around 15-20%, including a withholding tax component.

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