Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023
Suggestions on Flexible Usage of Satellite Spectrum Stir Controversy

The Indian Space Association (ISpA) criticized a recent proposal on the flexible usage of satellite spectrum, calling it an attempt to mislead and disrupt the spectrum allocation process for satellite communication services. The allocation of space-based spectrum for launching satellite communication services has divided telecom operators, with OneWeb, backed by Bharti Enterprises, and Amazon advocating for administrative allocation, while Reliance Jio supports an auction route.

In a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Reliance Jio had requested the flexible use of airwaves between satellite and terrestrial use. Responding to this, ISpA’s Director General, Lt Gen A K Bhatt (retd), stated that the submission by Jio seems to be a deliberate effort to mislead and impede the preferred launch of SatCom services.

Bhatt pointed out that the New Zealand government’s decision regarding the use of the 26 GHz spectrum band does not endorse the flexible usage of satellite spectrum. Rather, it establishes shared usage of the spectrum as a temporary measure until 2026, after which a final decision will be made following consultations.

Highlighting the nascent stage of India’s private space industry, Bhatt emphasized the recent achievements of the Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya L1 missions as significant boosts for its growth potential. He argued that the government’s nation-building efforts and the development of the Indian space economy necessitate the administrative allocation of satellite spectrum.

Bhatt further noted that the Department of Space and IN-SPACe have voiced their support for the administrative allocation method, stating that auctioning the satellite-based spectrum would hinder growth and impede the innovation drive of space sector start-ups and other private players in the country. This highlights the importance of administrative allocation in enabling a conducive environment for the industry’s development.

Despite the controversy surrounding the flexible usage of satellite spectrum, it is clear that the Indian space industry is poised for growth, with significant achievements demonstrating its potential. The ongoing discussions between telecom operators and regulatory bodies will determine the future course of satellite spectrum allocation in India.