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Centre expedites process of allocating licence to Elon Musk’s Starlink ahead of his India visit: Report

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has expedited the process of allocating the licence to billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite unit ahead of his visit to India later this month. The DoT may issue a letter of intent (LoI) and trial spectrum to Starlink for satellite communications services, Moneycontrol reported.

According to a government official, the department is carrying out inter-ministerial discussions due to a security issue. Starlink, the satellite internet service of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, provides high speed internet connections. The SpaceX founder will be in India on April 21 and 22, and will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as high-ranking government officials.

With a global mobile personal communication by satellite services (GMPCS) and a trial spectrum, Starlink could carry out a pilot of its services in the retail consumer space. The company would also require permission from the ministry of home affairs (MHA), law enforcement and security agencies as the Modi government has some security concerns, the report added.

Earlier, Starlink had issued clarification on its shareholding pattern to the government’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). The Elon Musk-helmed firm had cited US regulations behind its inability to disclose all the ownership details, while declaring that it does not have investors from countries with which India shares land borders.

Elon Musk will be in India on April 21 and 22, and will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as high-ranking government officials(Reuters file)

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According to the European Space Agency, the Ku band downlink is used from 10.7 GHz to 12.75 GHz for the direct broadcast satellite services. On the other hand, the Ka band is used in communication satellites, uplinked in either the 27.5 GHz and 31 GHz bands.

Eutelsat-OneWeb is the only satellite communication player with necessary authorisations from the India National Space Promotions and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe).

Companies like Eutelsat OneWeb, Starlink, Jio Satellite Communications Amazon are vying for a portion of the Indian market.

In November 2022, Starlink initiated the process of applying for the GMPCS licence after facing issues with the Centre for accepting pre-orders for its terminals.

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