Elon Musk‘s Starlink is on the brink of receiving approval to provide space broadband services in India. A media report indicates that following a response from Starlink to the Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT) regarding its shareholding pattern, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) may soon issue a Letter of Intent (LoI).
What Happened? According to a report by the Economic Times, the space giant has aligned with the Indian government’s requirement of not offering services to neighbouring countries, a move stemming from national security concerns, especially following the Galwan border clash with China. This compliance paves the way for Starlink’s entry into the Indian market.
While awaiting approval from Telecom Secretary Neeraj Mittal and Minister of Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw, who are currently abroad, the Satellite Communications Wing (SCW) is expected to grant the official approval to SpaceX’s satellite internet arm soon.
In 2020, amid heightened national security concerns following the Galwan border skirmishes between India and China, the Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT) revised its foreign investment policy. The amendment mandates that companies investing in India must seek prior government approval and declare whether they have any shareholding in countries that share a land border with India.
In response to this policy, Starlink raised objections, citing U.S. privacy laws that prevent companies from fully disclosing their shareholding details. However, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) questioned this rationale. The DoT inquired from the Ministry of Commerce whether the privacy laws of other countries could justify withholding complete shareholding information, challenging Starlink’s stance on the matter.
A few more regulatory green flags to collect: Starlink aims to acquire the global mobile personal communication by satellite services (GMPS) license for launching commercial space broadband in India. This move positions Starlink alongside Indian telecom giants like Reliance Jio‘s satcom venture and Bharti Global-backed Eutelsat OneWeb, both holders of GMPS licenses. Amazon is also seeking licenses for its Project Kuiper satellite broadband in India.
In 2021, SpaceX had to halt pre-registrations and refund applicants in India due to a lack of approvals. The Indian space economy is projected to reach $44 billion in the next decade, making it a lucrative market for global space broadband providers like Starlink.
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