There’s considerable interest from the world’s airlines in providing ‘direct-to-seat’ broadband connectivity for email and TV entertainment. The pattern being employed is that the likes of Gogo, Panasonic Aviation and Global Eagle tie up airlines and provide services via satellite capacity that they have booked via Intelsat, SES, ViaSat, Eutelsat and others.
Except for India. India already tightly controls who can beam programming over the country, and broadcasters are obliged to negotiate with India’s Space Research Organisation and its commercial arm, Antrix.
According to speciality newsletter Space Intel Report, on May 1st India’s Telecom Commission accepted the advice of the media regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) to permit in-flight WiFi over India as part of a loosening of State control in the sector.
Except that there’s a very large “but”. Telcom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan has reportedly rejected those recommendations and appears to be favouring the position where all capacity – for whatever reason – must be booked via ISRO/Antrix. Only if ISO/Antrix cannot supply sufficient capacity may a ‘foreign’ satellite operator bid for business. And then, the ‘foreign’ satellite operator must conduct its business with ISRO/Antrix, as well as build a gateway Earth station in India to support the service.