Starlink, the satellite internet division of SpaceX, has applied for all requisite licences with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which it needs to begin commercial internet services in India. Devusinh Chauhan, minister of state for communications, informed the same to the Parliament in a written response on the matter.
“Starlink Satellite Communications has applied for experimental/trial license in DoT. The company has also informed that it intends to apply for all the applicable licences and authorisations required for commercial launch in India,” Chauhan’s statement at the Parliament said.
On November 26, a statement by the DoT had stated that Starlink did not have requisite licences required to accept orders for serving internet connectivity to users in India. “The company has not obtained any licence for rendering satellite-based internet services that are being booked on their website. The government has asked the company to comply with the Indian regulatory framework for rendering services, and refrain from booking services in India with immediate effect,” the statement read.
Following this statement, Starlink was reported to have stopped accepting preorders for its services. The company had begun accepting preorders earlier in 2021, and stated that it expects to start offering its services to users on a first come, first serve basis from 2022.
Spearheaded by Elon Musk, Starlink is one of a number of satellite-based internet services that are expected to start operating in the coming months. Amazon’s Project Kuiper, headed by its founder Jeff Bezos, is another major international player that is set to target India.
Closer to home, Bharti Airtel has partnered with OneWeb to also target the satellite internet sector, while Tata Group’s Nelco is also said to have partnered with Canadian TeleSat to offer internet services as well.
Previously, a consortium of parties had urged the DoT to stop Starlink from accepting orders, citing that it did not have the requisite licenses to accept preorders already. At the Parliament yesterday, Chauhan clarified that Starlink has committed to not resuming preorders -- until it is granted all required licenses in India.