Elon Musk’s satellite internet project, Starlink, has hit a roadblock in India due to concerns raised by the government regarding data storage and transfer. The Indian government is seeking specific answers from Starlink about data security and wants the company to comply with Indian regulations as a license holder in the country.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is currently reviewing Starlink’s application and a meeting is scheduled for later this week with Starlink executives. The government’s primary concern is to ensure that Indian data traffic remains within the country, as data security is an important issue. Starlink has stated that it complies with international regulations, but the government is worried that data could bypass Indian regulations if it is not confined within the country’s borders.
Starlink is the third company to seek a license to provide satellite communication services in India, following OneWeb and Reliance Jio’s satellite division. The government’s approval is necessary for these companies to establish infrastructure such as earth stations and gateways and offer satellite services in India.
If approved, Starlink will need to wait for spectrum allocation from the Department of Telecommunications. However, its main competitors, OneWeb and Reliance Jio, are also on the waiting list for spectrum allocation. Amazon’s Project Kuiper has also expressed interest in offering satellite broadband services in India.
This is Starlink’s second attempt to enter the Indian market. The company had to refund pre-booking fees to Indian customers last year and withdraw its communication regarding pre-orders after being instructed to obtain regulatory approvals first.
The Indian satellite communications market is currently in its early stages but holds significant potential, especially in rural and remote areas. India’s space economy is projected to reach $13 billion by 2025, according to an EY-ISpA report.
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation project developed by SpaceX, aiming to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband internet access to underserved and remote areas around the world. It plans to create a network of thousands of small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) to achieve global coverage. Starlink has been actively launching satellites and providing user terminals to connect to its network. During the beta phase, it claimed internet speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps with latency of 20 ms to 40 ms.
Starlink has received regulatory approval in several countries, including Nigeria, Mozambique, and the Philippines. It is actively providing its service in 36 countries and 41 markets worldwide.