Starlink, the satellite internet services company founded by Elon Musk, is poised to obtain a license to commence operations in India following successful clearance of regulatory obstacles. This development is anticipated to bring substantial benefits to individuals residing in rural and remote areas.
The Indian government is expected to grant approval to Starlink this week, contingent upon the clarification of its shareholding pattern submitted to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. Subsequently, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) may issue a letter of intent to Starlink. Upon approval from telecom secretary Neeraj Mittal and Minister of Communications Ashwani Vaishnav, the DoT’s Satellite Communications Wing will provide the green light to Musk’s company.
Starlink had applied for a global mobile personal communication by satellite services (GMPCS) license in 2022, positioning itself as the third company, after Jio Satellite Communications and OneWeb, to secure this license.
However, the approval from DoT does not immediately enable the initiation of satellite-based broadband services. Starlink must also secure approval from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre for the establishment of earth stations. Furthermore, spectrum allocation by DoT is required before Starlink, OneWeb, and Jio’s satellite arm can begin offering their services. Amazon’s Project Kuiper is also pursuing a GMPCS license in India.
In 2021, Starlink encountered challenges with the Indian government over accepting pre-orders for its terminals without necessary permissions. Trials for satcom services were thwarted, leading to the resignation of Sanjay Bhargava, the head of Starlink’s India operations.
Beneficiaries of Starlink’s Services in India
Satellite communication (satcom) offers broadband speeds comparable to 4G (up to 100 Mbps), making it suitable for consumers in remote areas without traditional internet infrastructure. Installation and deployment are quick and straightforward compared to terrestrial networks.
Starlink proposes that satellite broadband connections are particularly advantageous for schools and healthcare facilities, potentially extending to the enterprise segment. OneWeb, in contrast, may focus more on the B2B segment.
Starlink Service Cost in India
The cost of Starlink’s service in India is currently undisclosed. However, former details from the company’s India head suggest an initial cost of about Rs 1,58,000 in the first year, followed by Rs 1,15,000 from the second year, inclusive of a 30 percent tax. The user equipment’s base price is expected to be Rs 37,400, with Rs 7,425 per month for services.
Global Operations of Starlink