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India's satcom sector to take off as IN-SPACe allows Indian players access to international orbital data

India's satcom sector to take off as IN-SPACe allows Indian players access to international orbital data
India's space and satellite sector is poised for a significant transformation following the recent decision to permit local satellite companies to utilise foreign orbital resources for the first time. This landmark move, orchestrated by India's national space regulator IN-SPACe, is set to revolutionise the landscape of satellite communications (satcom) services within the country.

If you have experienced your mobile signal weakening during road trips, this is because our devices rely on terrestrial mobile towers that transmit and receive data. As you move away from built-up areas, you also move away from these towers, which hinders your device’s ability to access networks.

On the other hand, satellite devices (as the name suggests) directly tap into the satellites orbiting our Earth, meaning they have access to some network from just about anywhere on the planet. This is extremely useful for communication in remote areas, such as lesser-developed villages and mountainous regions. Satellite devices are especially important in emergency situations since they aren’t relying on fragile land-based communication infrastructure.
More affordable communication?
Previously, Indian satellite players — an industry still very much in its nascent stage — were constrained by reliance solely on domestic orbital resources, which often proved to be limited and costly. However, with the new IN-SPACe guidelines, Indian entities can now leverage surplus international satellite capacities to deliver satcom services at competitive rates, promising better services and affordability for end-consumers.

This initiative opens doors for Indian companies to access non-Indian orbital slots and associated frequencies, a crucial development that fosters competition and innovation in the satcom sector. By tapping into global capacities, Indian players can expand their service offerings and enhance their competitiveness in the market.

Pranav Roach, President of Hughes Network Systems India Ltd, lauded the decision, emphasising the greater flexibility it provides to satcom players in delivering broadband services across India. Similarly, industry executives anticipate a surge in local participation in the Indian space services sector, driven by the newfound commercial options enabled by access to non-Indian orbital resources.
Reliance, Starlink, OneWeb, Globalstar express interest
The implications extend beyond the domestic market, with global satellite giants such as Bharti Mittal-backed Eutelsat OneWeb, Amazon and Reliance Jio expressing interest in leveraging India's burgeoning satcom market. Elon Musk’s Starlink — which was instrumental in emergency communications during the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza — is also eyeing the country’s satcom market.

Globalstar, the American satcom company behind the emergency SOS services in Apple iPhones, has also been seeking clearances to launch similar services in India. If approved, upcoming handsets by the tech giant could be equipped with the potentially life-saving tech as well.