Starlink, the brainchild of tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, is set to revolutionize internet connectivity in India as it edges closer to obtaining a license to operate in the country. Overcoming regulatory hurdles, Starlink is awaiting approval from the Indian government, pending clarification on its shareholding structure to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. Once the clarification is provided, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is expected to grant a letter of intent to Starlink.
If granted the necessary approvals, Starlink will become the third company, alongside Jio Satellite Communications and OneWeb, to secure a global mobile personal communication by satellite services (GMPCS) license, as detailed in its application submitted in 2022. However, it’s important to note that these clearances do not immediately enable the commencement of satellite-based broadband services. Additional approval from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre is required for the establishment of earth stations.
While Starlink, OneWeb, and Jio’s satellite division await spectrum allocation from the DoT to kickstart their services, Amazon’s Project Kuiper is also vying for a GMPCS license in India.
Starlink’s entry into the Indian market has been met with its fair share of challenges. In 2021, the company faced scrutiny after accepting pre-orders for its terminals without proper permissions, prompting the government to raise concerns. As a result, collected fees were refunded, and Sanjay Bhargava, head of Starlink’s India operations, resigned from his position.
The potential benefits of Starlink’s satellite communication services in India are vast, particularly for those in remote areas lacking traditional internet infrastructure. With download speeds projected to range from 25 to 220 Mbps, and simplified installation processes, satellite communication holds promise for institutions like schools and healthcare facilities.
Although the exact cost of Starlink’s service in India has not been disclosed, estimates suggest a first-year expense of around Rs 1,58,000, followed by Rs 1,15,000 from the second year onwards, including a 30% tax. This projection includes the one-time purchase of Starlink’s equipment and a monthly service fee.
The introduction of satellite communication services in India is a significant development, with the country’s space economy expected to grow to $13 billion by 2025, according to EY-ISpA. Starlink’s expansive satellite constellation, consisting of over 5,000 active units in low-Earth orbit, offers low-latency internet services for activities such as online gaming, video calls, and streaming. Positioned about 550 km from Earth, Starlink’s satellites offer significantly lower latency compared to traditional geostationary satellites, enabling faster and more reliable connectivity.
Thanks to SpaceX’s commitment to frequent, cost-effective launches, the company can continually update its satellite technology, ensuring users benefit from cutting-edge internet services. With its imminent entry into the Indian market, Starlink holds tremendous potential to bridge the digital divide and provide reliable internet connectivity to underserved areas, propelling India’s digital transformation forward.
1. What is Starlink?
Starlink is an internet connectivity project developed by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk. It aims to provide global broadband services through a constellation of satellites in low-Earth orbit.
2. What is the current status of Starlink in India?
Starlink is awaiting approval from the Indian government to operate in the country. Once it clarifies its shareholding structure to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, it is expected to receive a letter of intent from the Department of Telecommunications.
3. What licenses does Starlink need to operate in India?
Starlink needs a global mobile personal communication by satellite services (GMPCS) license, which it has applied for along with Jio Satellite Communications and OneWeb. Additionally, it needs approval from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre for the establishment of earth stations.
4. What challenges has Starlink faced in India?
Starlink faced scrutiny in 2021 after accepting pre-orders for its terminals without proper permissions. The government raised concerns, resulting in the refund of fees and the resignation of Sanjay Bhargava, head of Starlink’s India operations.
5. What are the potential benefits of Starlink’s services in India?
Starlink’s satellite communication services can benefit those in remote areas without traditional internet infrastructure. With high download speeds and simplified installation processes, institutions like schools and healthcare facilities can greatly benefit.
6. What is the estimated cost of Starlink’s service in India?
The exact cost has not been disclosed, but estimates suggest a first-year expense of around Rs 1,58,000, followed by Rs 1,15,000 from the second year onwards, including a 30% tax. This includes the purchase of equipment and a monthly service fee.
– Starlink: A project by Elon Musk to provide global broadband services through a satellite constellation.
– GMPCS: Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite Services, a license required for satellite communication services.
– Low-Earth Orbit: The region of space where Starlink’s satellites are positioned, about 550 km from Earth.
– Earth Stations: Stations on the ground that communicate with satellites in space.