India's Satellite Internet Battle: Elon Musk's Starlink Favored Over Reliance Jio In Draft Bill

India’s government has introduced a draft bill proposing a licensing framework for satellite internet spectrum, a move that bypasses traditional auctions. Presented in the Parliament on Monday, this initiative is part of a broader effort to modernize the nation’s 138-year-old telecommunications laws.

What Happened? The proposal, favouring a licensing system over traditional auctions, marks a notable victory for international players like Elon Musk’s Starlink, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, and OneWeb, backed by the British government. These firms have been vocal advocates for a licensing model, arguing that auctions could inflate costs and deter investment.

This development, however, represents a setback for Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, and his telecom giant, Reliance Jio. Reliance Jio has been a proponent of the auction system, mirroring the method used for 5G spectrum distribution in India.

See also: PM Narendra Modi Promises India Will Be Among World’s Top Three Economies In His Third Term

The company contends that auctions ensure a level playing field, especially as foreign satellite service providers are poised to offer voice and data services in direct competition with traditional telecom operators.

According to Deloitte, India’s satellite broadband service market is expected to witness robust growth, with projections indicating a 36% annual increase, reaching $1.9 billion by 2030.

Additional Provisions in the Bill: The draft telecom bill also includes provisions empowering the Indian government to suspend or prohibit the use of telecom equipment from specific countries on grounds of national security. This move underscores the growing emphasis on safeguarding telecommunications infrastructure amid global security concerns.

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Posted In: GovernmentRegulationsSPACETechGeneralOneWebProject KuiperRelianceReliance Jiosatellite internetStarLink