Satellite broadband: a faster way to connect India

In recent months, there has been a sudden increase in interest in satellite communications in India. The debate gained momentum when telecom operators demanded a pie in the 27.5 Ghz – 29.5 Ghz frequency, which is broadly intended for satellite communications. Sharing this frequency will prevent India from exploiting the true potential of satellite communications.

Globally, companies strive to build and deploy “mega-constellations” of hundreds or thousands of satellites to provide affordable high-speed Internet services to businesses, governments, schools and individuals. Despite India’s impressive achievements in the space sector, growth has been slow.

According to ISRO studies, India currently holds only 3% of the global space market of 360 billion dollars. Satellite broadband services in India remain primarily for the B2B sector with a market size of around $ 100 million. SpaceCom experts predict that with the upcoming “Open Space”, satellite broadband services may represent a short-term market opportunity of over $ 500 million. However, this is only possible if there is a conducive political environment.

Cost advantage

Satellite broadband provides instant service. To broadcast to households, business establishments, including machine-to-machine and IoT, satellite broadband does not require cables to be laid. Consider this for a moment – Space India 2.0 indicates that the cost to cover a square kilometer of space ranges between $ 1.5 and $ 6, compared to the $ 3,000 to $ 30,000 required by ground infrastructure to cover the same area. Such a drastic reduction in costs will benefit consumers. Since no cables are involved, consumers, whether in the B2B or B2C space, will benefit from unhindered connectivity. OTT services, seamless high-speed internet access, rapid adoption of media streaming, connecting underserved areas, e-Sims and trunk technology are just a few areas that will experience tremendous growth.

Various companies have set up space stations which can meet the needs of India. The proliferation of new types of constellations, high throughput technology, a large number of innovative Earth observation and broadband missions and the emergence of GEO / MEO / LEO HTS offerings will increase growth. However, to be successful, India must have the right regulations and policies, as well as sufficient spectrum allocation, ease of doing business, lower capacity prices, etc.

Indian satellites still use conventional satellites despite the proliferation of broadband satellites around the world: there is a lack of national participation in building space infrastructure despite the “Make in India” mission. The use of traditional satellite technology in India makes the commercial viability of satellite broadband impossible. Overall, the use of broadband [HTS] satellite has undergone a significant transformation into an even more sophisticated innovation, where the cost of making the satellite relative to the cost per bit is much lower. With good political intervention SatCom [Direct and Indirect sectors] has far-reaching scope to make a significant contribution to GDP growth, with the potential to open floodgates for greater innovation, R&D, employment, investment and connectivity.

However, an urgent review of deregulation and privatization is needed. Advanced space nations have privatized most of these blocks in the value chain. There is a need for building systems to help feed the industry and create a vast ecosystem to generate “Space 2.0” in India.

There is enormous potential for the space sector in replicating the success of the IT sector, where a structured operating system provides opportunities created by the government for greater private sector participation. Armed with a powerful regulator and arbiter, the sector will become a giant that generates income and jobs.

The author is President of SIA-India and President and CEO – Ananth Technologies

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