Starlink starts refunding pre-order deposits for Indian satellite service

starlink refund
Image by NoraVector | Bigstockphoto

SpaceX’s satellite-based internet service provider, Starlink, has begun refunding the $99 pre-order deposits to Indian customers following a directive from the country’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Starlink India said in an email communication to consumers who had pre-ordered Starlink services that it has been ordered by the DoT to “refund pre-orders until we are licensed.”

The Indian government has long complained that Starlink was selling pre-orders for its satellite broadband service despite not yet having acquired a license to operate the service. In November, the DoT advised citizens not to pre-order Starlink’s service until it acquired its operator license.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India also weighed in, asking Starlink to “desist from soliciting telecom business and collecting related fees” without the necessary authorizations.

Telecom Watchdog, an India  consumer forum, also urged the DoT to file a criminal case against the company for “cheating”.

Starlink India reportedly collected deposits from over 11,000 consumers up to early December 2021.

Starlink informed consumers that they need to login to their accounts on the company website and request a refund after cancelling the pre-order. It said that the refund will be issued immediately, although it may take up to 10 days to be reflected in their account.

Starlink’s India head Sanjay Bhargava said in a LinkedIn post last month that the company would apply for a commercial licence in India by January 31, as it’s targeting 200,000 terminals deployed in the country by December this year. However, to achieve that target, it needs to start rollouts by April.

Starlink’s satcom services will directly compete with Bharti Group-backed OneWeb in India. Globally, it will also compete with Amazon’s Project Kuiper.

OneWeb also plans to launch its satcom services in India this year.

SpaceX’s Starlink claims that its technology can support high-speed, low-latency broadband services in any part of the world, including remote areas, at a much cheaper rate compared to other operators. It is using more than 1,000 LEO satellites, and plans to increase that number to 42,000 by mid-2027.

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