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Musk targets India for Starlink

November 20, 2020

By Chris Forrester

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite broadband service is now in beta-test mode over North America and a few other ‘friends and family’ locations overseas.

SpaceX is on record as saying that initially Starlink will focus very much on North America and would probably expand its service overseas via local agents and resellers. However, Musk says that he hopes to get regulatory approval to launch a Starlink service for India by the middle of 2021.

SpaceX VP/Satellite Government Affairs, Patricia Cooper responded to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) consultation paper on its Roadmap to Promote Broadband Connectivity and Enhanced Broadband Speed, saying that the Indian government must work on updating its policies for the establishment of satellite-based broadband technology in India.

SpaceX, in its letter to TRAI, praised India saying: “The Government of India has set ambitious and laudable connectivity goals in its Connect India mission. The Consultation Paper accurately notes that ‘innovative approaches to infrastructure creation need to be devised’ to realize these objectives. A diverse mix of broadband technology platforms and service providers, including those new to India’s market, will best accelerate broadband access across the nation.”

The Musk company stressed that Internet access has quickly become a necessity and suggested that India was “well aware” of the transformational potential that space and satellite technologies could bring to the communications market.

The comprehensive SpaceX letter asked TRAI to undertake the following actions:

Encouraging technology-neutral broadband definitions that reflect the advances of next generation satellite services;
– Assigning already-allocated frequencies for use by satellite systems;
– Extending “blanket” licensing tools to support the wide-spread availability of satellite user terminals;
Promoting maximum spectrum efficiency by expecting users to coordinate use of scarce spectrum resources across multiple systems, whether terrestrial or space-based;
Safeguarding ongoing satellite innovation in higher frequency bands, while maintaining the expectation that all spectrum users, terrestrial and space-based, will coordinate in good faith; and,
Considering the unintended fees, taxes and other administrative burdens that, when passed on to end-users, can make broadband unaffordable to many.

SpaceX told TRAI that by the end of 2021 there could be “continuous Starlink coverage throughout India”.

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