Modern satellite technologies are likely to make broadband services more affordable, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said today. The government has therefore made a provision for using satellite services for providing broadband connections under the second phase of the Bharat Net project, he added. “New satellite innovations…are likely to make broadband more affordable, available and accessible to public agencies, industries and individuals,” Sinha said at an event organised by the Broadband India Forum. He said that realising the importance of satellite communications (satcom), the government has included it in the second phase of the national broadband network project Bharat Net, which seeks to provide broadband infrastructure to rural and remote areas. “While optical fibre and mobile broadband are the preferred technologies for the backbone of broadband penetration, it is also clear that unlike in the case of mobile, 100 per cent broadband penetration would not be possible unless we use other technologies like wi-fi, cable broadband and Satcom in particular,” Sinha said.
He said the government introduced the space policy in 1997 and its guidelines came in 2000. “Despite… more than 17 years, we have seen very little private sector participation in the sector, particularly in the supply side. “While there are legitimate security concerns, we believe these can be overcome by a number of measures that are required to be taken in the ease of doing business and also by liberalised implementation of the existing policy itself,” Sinha said. He said time is now ripe to take a fresh approach to actively involve private sector in the satcom segment.
Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that lot of satellite companies have expressed interest in providing services in India, specially to consumers during air travel and some of the companies have also expressed in making their satcom products in the country. “Government is committed to ensuring that commercial satellite operations are not hindered. They are indeed encouraged and promoted for reaching the unreached,” she said, adding the Department of Telecom will take up policy issues related to satcom with the Department of Space.
Broadband India Forum (BIF) President T V Ramachandran said satellite communication in India currently is at the same level where mobile communications were in 1994 — almost negligible. “International satellite capacity is getting wasted. Security is not a big issue because ISRO is already buying bandwidth from foreign satellites. Unless we have competition, we won’t be able to get affordability,” Ramachandran said.
BIF urged the government to allow companies to directly negotiate with global satellite companies. The companies at present are required to go through ISRO for procurement of bandwidth and they are required to pay similar amount irrespective of the amount of bandwidth they buy, Ramachandran said.