Indian private telcos have said that no spectrum should be allocated to non-telecom and satcom companies through the administrative route and advocated for auctions for all kinds of spectrum to ensure a “level playing field”.
Their demand comes at a time when satellite communications and technology companies are seeking spectrum in mmwave and E and V bands through the administrative route. Satcom companies urged the government to allocate spectrum in the mmwave spectrum band for a fee and not be auctioned, while telcos want this spectrum for their 5G services in the country.
“I would like to highlight the level playing field, we are all for less regulation…but same service, same rules would be the need of the hour if the entire digital ecosystem has to flourish together,” said Anjali Hans, senior vice president, public policy for Vodafone Idea said during a panel discussion at the ongoing India Mobile Congress virtual event.
Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea have also urged the government to reduce levies and give a longer period of moratorium on payment for the new spectrum.
Vishakha Saigal, vice president, head of strategic initiatives, regulatory policy and research, at Jio also urged the government to be cautious while releasing spectrum for Satcom services.
“We absolutely welcome and are open to exploring the potential of that line (satellite) technology for offering communication services. Only request is that it shouldn’t be done at the cost of existing terrestrial networks or the ecosystem of 4G and 5G networks, which are globally accepted,” Saigal said.
She urged authorities to ensure parity in terms of policies and regulatory framework between telcos and satcom providers.
Airtel and OneWeb chairman Sunil Mittal had recently said that there was no case for auctioning satellite spectrum and said doing so, “would not be in tune with global norms”.
OneWeb, a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite operator co-owned by Bharti Global and the UK government, plans to offer Satcom services in India from June 2022.
Interestingly, Elon Musk’s Starlink was recently barred by the Indian telecom department and regulator from collecting pre-booking fees for its upcoming broadband-from-space services without the necessary approvals in the country.
Notably, India’s telecom department last week said that the upcoming 6G technology will bring terrestrial and satellite communication networks together, resulting in nationwide mobile and broadband connectivity.
Even the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s newly appointed secretary V Raghunandan said that the future has to be in coexistence. “One cannot say that I will live on terrestrial or satellite. We need to co-exist and as a regulator, whatever we need to do, we will,” he said during the ongoing telecom event.