In another step for the Elon Musk-owned company’s entry into India, where it will compete with companies like Bharti Group-backed OneWeb, Amazon, and Reliance Jio’s satcom arm, Starlink has applied to the Indian National Space Promotion & Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) for authorizations to set up earth stations.

The US business had previously requested a license for the Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS) from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Officials with knowledge of the specifics told ET that the ministry of home affairs is conducting a security assessment for Starlink’s GMPCS license, which is anticipated to be approved in a few months.

Foreign entities are now being allowed to set up infrastructure and offer satellite services in India. But they need to seek approval from IN-SPACe. India’s new Space Policy 2023 has empowered IN-SPACe – an autonomous central regulatory body – to act as the sole single-window agency to authorise the gamut of space activities by both government and private satcom players.

Once Starlink, which is a subsidiary of SpaceX, gets the approvals, it has to wait for spectrum allocation from DoT. Its main rival, OneWeb, has already secured all the approvals but is waiting for spectrum. Reliance Jio’s satellite arm has also received the GMPCS licence from DoT.

SpaceX has had a faltering start in India. Last year, it was forced to return pre-booking money to consumers in the country after the DoT asked it to first seek regulatory approvals before taking any pre-orders for its services. The company then withdrew its communication for pre-orders and has since been applied to get the requisite regulatory approvals.

Competition has intensified in India’s relatively nascent broadband-from-space services segment with firms trying to launch services fast and get first mover’s advantage. The satellite communications market in India is at a nascent stage but the potential is huge, particularly in rural and remote areas. As per an EY-ISpA report, India’s space economy is set to rise to $13 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 6%. Amazon’s Project Kuiper, too, had evinced an interest to serve the world’s second-largest telecom market with fast broadband services using satellites.

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