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DoT examines Elon Musk-backed Starlink broadband for commercial usage in India

DoT is examining if Elon Musk-backed Starlink fulfills existing telecom and technology laws days after reports of the company not complying with telecom guidelines in India surfaced.

twitter-logoIndia Today Tech | April 14, 2021 | Updated 18:04 IST
(Picture: Reuters)

Highlights

  • The DoT is also reportedly looking if Starlink fulfills Indian telecom laws and is in consumer interest and national security.
  • Earlier this month BIF that represents Amazon, Facebook, and Google, asked TRAI to block Starlink’s pre-orders in India.
  • It had noted that Starlink does not have its ground or earth stations in India nor satellite frequency authorisation from ISRO

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is examining if Elon Musk-backed Starlink fulfills existing telecom and technology laws days after reports of the company not fulfilling telecom guidelines in India surfaced. The department is looking if Starlink violates the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, and the Satellite Communication (SatCom) Policy of India, 2000.

The DoT is also reportedly looking if Starlink fulfills consumer interest and national security, according to a report by ET. Earlier in April, Broadband India Forum (BIF) asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to block Elon Musk-backed SpaceX Technologies from pre-selling the beta version of its Starlink satellite internet services in India.

TV Ramachandran, president of BIF that represents Amazon, Facebook, Hughes, Google, and Microsoft noted that SpaceX does not have the permissions to offer such services in India. It also noted that Starlink does not have its ground or earth stations in India nor satellite frequency authorisation from ISRO and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) required to offer beta services in the country.

Starlink faces competition from Bharti Group's One Web and Amazon's Kuiper. Earlier this week, satellites from One Web and SpaceX's Starlink approached dangerously close to each other. According to The Verge, it is the first known collision avoidance event for the two rival companies which are set to expand their new broadband networks in space.

Reports of the world's richest men Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos fighting over satellite fleets surfaced in January. Musk had asked the US regulators -- the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to operate Starlink communications satellites at a lower orbit than first planned. Bezos' Amazon has urged the FCC to reject SpaceX's request for lower orbits. It said the change would put SpaceX satellites in the middle of the Kuiper System orbits.

February saw Musk's SpaceX open Starlink's website for pre-orders for its broadband connection for around Rs 7000 in India. The company made the service available for a refundable deposit of $99 and noted that it would be made available for users on a first come first serve basis. Internet connectivity was expected to be made available to Indian users in 2022 through satellites that SpaceX will launch in orbit, which are currently in the beta-testing phase.

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