After it stopped taking pre-orders in India last month, Starlink is now reportedly offering refunds to users. In February 2020, the Elon Musk-backed satellite broadband company had started taking pre-orders for users worldwide. The pre-orders were available for a refundable deposit of $99, which is approximately Rs 7300. Starlink stopped taking pre-orders in India in November 2021 after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) warned the company noting that it had not acquired licenses to provide the services in the country.
The company did not announce the move exclusively but stopped accepting pre-orders through its website. The company had noted that there were already over 5000 pre-orders for the service in India as of October 1, 2021.
Starlink has reportedly emailed customers in India noting that it has been directed by DoT to refund pre-orders until it acquires a license in India. In the email addressed to customers who had placed preorders in India, the company has highlighted that the timeline for receiving licenses in India is currently unknown and there are issues that have to be resolved before the company operates Starlink in India, NDTV reported.
The DoT in a press release had noted that in order to provide satellite-based services in India, requisite license(s) from the Government of India is required. "The Government has asked the company to comply with the Indian regulatory framework for rendering the satellite-based communication services and refrain from booking/rendering the satellite internet services in India with immediate effect," the telecom department had said in a press statement.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in a directive had also noted that Starlink should desist from soliciting business and related fees. Delhi-based NGO Telecom Watchdog had earlier voiced concerns calling Starlink's method of asking for a deposit unfair, saying that DoT's actions against Elon Musk's Starlink are "highly belated and inadequate." It had also termed the company's act of taking pre-orders criminal.
Starlink's company head for India, Sanjay Bhargava in a LinkedIn post last month noted that Starlink aims to apply for a commercial license by January 31, 2022. Starlink also prepared two guides -- one for individuals and the private sector and one for state and union territories. Bhargava noted that it is not certain when the service would roll out in India but reports speculate that the space broadband service will start rolling out in India by 2022. "There are currently unknowns on when you may get your Starlink but please pay careful consideration to whether Starlink could just be the broadband solution you need," Bhargava wrote.
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