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TRAI recommends 'Licensing Framework' for satellite-based connectivity for low bit rate apps

TRAI recommends 'Licensing Framework' for satellite-based connectivity for low bit rate apps

Low bit-rate applications and IoT devices require low cost, low power and small size terminals that can effectively perform the task of signal transfer with minimum loss

These recommendations came after the DoT requested TRAI to furnish recommendations on licensing framework to enable the provisioning of satellite-based connectivity for low bit-rate applications for both commercial and captive usage These recommendations came after the DoT requested TRAI to furnish recommendations on licensing framework to enable the provisioning of satellite-based connectivity for low bit-rate applications for both commercial and captive usage

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), on Thursday, released the recommendations on "Licensing Framework for Satellite-based connectivity for low bit rate applications".

These recommendations came after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), through its letter on November 23, 2020, requested TRAI to furnish recommendations on licensing framework to enable the provisioning of Satellite-based connectivity for low bit-rate applications for both commercial and captive usage. As per the DoT, there is a need for a suitable licencing framework.

What are low bit-rate apps?

Low bit-rate applications and IoT devices require low cost, low power and small size terminals that can effectively perform the task of signal transfer with minimum loss.

Many sparsely populated areas with important economic activities suited for IoT related services may not have terrestrial coverage or other forms of connectivity. Therefore, satellites can help bridge this gap by providing coverage to even the most remote areas via low bit-rate apps.

Features of these recommendations:

  • For provision of satellite-based connectivity for IoT and low-bit-rate applications, the relevant service licensees may provide connectivity as per the scope of their authorisation for any kind of network topology model including hybrid model, aggregator model and direct-to-satellite model.
  •     All types of satellite -- Geostationary Orbit (GSO) and Non-GSO (NGSO) satellites -- and any of the permitted satellite frequency bands may be used for providing satellite-based low-bit-rate connectivity.
  •     The relevant existing authorisations under Unified Licensing framework may be suitably amended for enabling satellite-based low-bit-rate connectivity.
  •     Scope of authorisations of GMPCS service, Commercial VSAT CUG service and NLD service under Unified License and Captive VSAT CUG service license may be suitably amended to include the provision of satellite-based low-bit-rate connectivity for IoT devices.
  •     The Service Licensees should be permitted to obtain satellite bandwidth from foreign satellites in all the permitted satellite bands to provide satellite-based services.
  •     The government may come out with a road map detailing the schedule of the launch of communication satellites and availability of the domestic satellite capacities in India to facilitate the service licensees to plan and optimise capacity procurement.
  •     To make the services cheaper and affordable, TRAI has permitted hiring of foreign capacities for a longer period as per need, instead of 3-5 years, removal of facilitation charges by the government when hiring foreign capacities, leasing the satellite capacity from foreign satellite, and reducing the role of intermediaries and removing the prevailing NOCC charges.
  •     To improve Ease of Doing Business, it has been recommended that DoT should put in place a comprehensive, simplified, integrated, end-to-end coordinated, single window online common portal for all the agencies involved in grant of various approvals like DoS, DOT, WPC and NOCC.

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