BIF writes to DoT, bats for administrative allocation of satcom spectrum

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July 14, 2021 6:28 PM

"This would be appropriately utilised to provide broadband connectivity across India, and also trigger a rush of investments in new satellite launch applications and rapid growth in satellite broadband services," it said.

Hence, terrestrial concept of exclusivity does not apply, and auctioning is not applicable, the BIF contended.

Industry body BIF has made a pitch for administrative allocation of satcom spectrum in tune with global norms, arguing that terrestrial concept of ‘exclusivity’ does not apply to satellite spectrum and so auctioning “is not applicable”.

In its submission made to the Department of Telecom (DoT) on Wednesday, the Broadband India Forum (BIF) asserted that a liberal licensing, policy and regulatory framework, which permits use of modern satellite technologies along with adequate competition operating under free and open market conditions, “is the need of the hour”.

On allocation of satcom spectrum, the BIF said “the world over, satellite spectrum is authorised for ‘right-to-use’ by all administrations and is allocated only by administrative process, at charges that essentially cover the cost of administration”.

It argued that unlike terrestrial spectrum, satellite spectrum is never exclusively assigned to an operator but coordinated internationally and shared among multiple operators for different orbital slots and all types of satellites.

Hence, terrestrial concept of exclusivity does not apply, and auctioning is not applicable, the BIF contended.

Any commodity to be auctioned has to be free from any encumbrances, it said emphasising that satellite spectrum has international encumbrances.

BIF’s suggestions entail encouraging private sector participation in satcom, utilising available capacity from foreign satellites, fostering local equipment manufacturing, and using indigenous components in satellite gateways.

While acknowledging that promotion of indigenous technologies and bandwidth from homegrown satellites needs to be pursued, BIF said satellite bandwidth from approved foreign satellites over the Indian skies “which is presently going waste” should also be permitted to be used through the process of ‘direct negotiation’.

“This would be appropriately utilised to provide broadband connectivity across India, and also trigger a rush of investments in new satellite launch applications and rapid growth in satellite broadband services,” it said.

The BIF has also made a case for rationalisation of levies that “together are to the tune of more than 50 per cent” saying lowering or waiver of levies in the sector would spur rural broadband coverage via satcom.

“…the satcom sector offers immense potential, and we believe that much can be done to optimise and leverage the same for adding impetus to our Digital India efforts and aspirations,” BIF President TV Ramachandran wrote in the submissions to the telecom department.

Various applications in satellite communications are expected to play a major role in promoting and complementing other technologies and socio-economic segments.

Deploying new high throughput and capacity satellite technologies is therefore relevant for broadband delivery to businesses and consumers, the industry think tank said while also underscoring satellite’s role in 5G.

Public Data Offices using satellite-powered VSATs, mobile networks using transportable satellite-powered VSATs, tele-education networks for mass education, Internet of Things for smart metering in the power sector, telemedicine and agriculture, are among new applications based on satcom, it said.

“A number of these applications demand high volumes of capacity at affordable prices, necessitating amendment of current regulations,” the BIF stated.

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