The satellite communications reforms, especially the waiver of certain levies required for use of the space segment, will save the industry about Rs 120 crore per annum, according to Broadband India Forum (BIF).
The statement from BIF follows the government’s recent announcement of reforms for satellite communications and wireless licensing undertaken in the current year. The forum represents companies such as Bharti Group-backed OneWeb, Inmarsat, Hughes, Cisco, Amazon, Google, and Tata Consultancy Services, among others.
“The latest Satcom reforms by DoT are bound to boost the country’s digital connectivity quotient, including provisioning of broadband to the remotest and most inaccessible terrains in a most efficient and expeditious manner,” TV Ramachandran, president of Broadband India Forum, said.
As part of the reforms, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has waived national operations and control centre (NOCC) charges of Rs 2.1 million per transponder, which were earlier required by the companies to pay as network clearances for using satellites. Further, the government has also removed the mandatory performance verification testing charges of Rs 6,000 for satellite antennas.
Apart from relaxing the levies, DoT has also simplified time-consuming per-site clearance required by the companies to provide satellite connectivity services through VSAT (very small aperture terminal) sites.
VSAT is used by the companies to transmit narrowband data in sites such ATMs, point-of-sale terminals, among others. Earlier, for each site they had to take a separate licence from the Wireless Planning and Coordination Committee (WPC). Post reforms, the government has done away with the per-site clearance and also reduced the time period to six-weeks from six months for a single-stage scrutiny.
According to the Broadband India Forum, waiver of charges along with simplification of processes will greatly benefit both the broadcast and the satcom industry and help rollout services in an affordable manner.
Among other reforms, the government has enhanced scope of VSAT and other licenses to include satellite-based user terminals on moving platforms and satellite-based internet of things (IoT) devices. “This will likely to pave way for enhanced use of satellite-based services in logistics, Indian Railways & other sectors and attract more investment thereby creating more job opportunities,” BIF said.
Since the sector has been struggling on cost and viability issues, the reforms will benefit the sector in providing satellite-based communication services. “These measures, which operate in tandem with the great liberalisation programme of DoS (Department of Space) and InSPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization), are big boosters of investor confidence,” it said.