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Telecom Watchdog asks DoT to stop Amazon, OneWeb and Starlink to acquire 5G spectrum through backdoor for free

Telecom Watchdog asks DoT to stop Amazon, OneWeb and Starlink to acquire 5G spectrum through backdoor for free

Telecom Watchdog, a consumer forum and an NGO, DoT to stop satellite operators from acquiring 4G and 5G spectrum through the backdoor for free and has emphasised the allocation through auction only.

(Picture: Starlink) (Picture: Starlink)
Story highlights
  • Telecom Watchdog has written to DoT to stop satellite operators from getting access to the 4G or 5G spectrum for free.
  • The development comes after Bharti Chairman Sunil Mittal had said that there is no case for auctioning of satellite spectrum.
  • OneWeb, a Bharti-backed satellite communications company, is slated to introduce its services in India from May 2022.

Much has been said about the satellite operators and their broadband plans set to roll out sometime next year. Telecom Watchdog, a consumer forum and an NGO, has now directed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to stop these satellite operators including Amazon, OneWeb and Starlink from acquiring 4G and 5G spectrum through the backdoor for free and has emphasised the allocation through auction only. The forum noted that any deviation from the standard method of the auction would lead to security challenges and upset the level-playing field in the telecom sector.

ET Telecom quoted the letter written by the Telecom Watchdog to telecom secretary Anshu Prakash which noted: "a number of deep-pocketed companies like OneWeb, Starlink and Amazon have lined up to grab 4G or 5G spectrum for free under the garb of providing cheaper high-speed satellite-based internet services to rural and remote areas, and all (such) attempts to get a back-door entry into India's telecommunications market by satellite players and their lobby groups should be scuttled."

The development comes shortly after Bharti Chairman Sunil Mittal said that there is no case for auctioning of satellite spectrum, and doing so will not be in tune with global norms. Mittal also sought to draw a clear distinction between the terrestrial spectrum being used and satcom spectrum. "What auction do you do? People are not understanding. This is not a terrestrial spectrum being used. This is not going to be used in every part of the country. This is going to be only in two landing stations at those specific points. World over, there has never been an auction for satellite spectrum," Mittal had said at a virtual briefing last week while speaking about OneWeb India plans.

The telecom NGO has emphasised that the Supreme Court has made it clear that spectrum or natural resource like orbital slot used for telecommunication services "irrespective of being used in a terrestrial network as the backbone or through satellite constellations" must be allocated through auction only emphasising that any other method of spectrum allocation would lead to an unauthorised backdoor entry.

OneWeb, a Bharti-backed satellite communications company, is slated to introduce its services in India from May 2022 and aims to reach broadband into underserved and remote areas of the country. Meanwhile, Amazon is expected to approach authorities soon, including the Department of Space, for required approvals to offer satellite services in the country. Elon Musk-backed Starlink has already opened pre-orders for its broadband satellite services in India for a refundable deposit of $99 which is nearly Rs 7300.

Published on: Jul 07, 2021, 1:37 PM IST
Posted by: BT Siteadmin, Jul 07, 2021, 1:37 PM IST