India changes rules to advance satellite communications

The Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC), the technical wing of the Department of Telecommunications, recently changed the rules regarding usage of spectrum bands, antenna sizes and speeds for satellite firms.

These will help in accelerating the use of satellite technologies to deliver broadband in the country.

The new rules will allow satellite firms to deploy smaller antennae, enabling them to bring down the cost while enhancing efficiency.

Final frontier: India's hoping to speed up the adoption of satellite broadband technologies through rule changes.  (Source: NASA)
Final frontier: India's hoping to speed up the adoption of satellite broadband technologies through rule changes.
(Source: NASA)

The cap on data rates and on uplink data rates, which was linked to the size of fixed antenna, have also been removed, allowing satellite players to provide high-speed connectivity. The new guidelines are applicable to both communication and broadcast networks, and companies will also be able to use spectrum in Ka bands, in addition to the traditional C and Ku bands.

"New modernised specifications released by the government will remove erstwhile restrictions which inhibited the use of modern satcom technologies and help deliver significant benefits to the end consumer by way of high capacity, high speed broadband, and better Quality of service," said TV Ramachandran, president of the Broadband India Forum (BIF) in a press statement. OneWeb, Amazon, Facebook, Hughes Networks and Google are some of the members of BIF.

To the stars

Several firms including Elon Musk's SpaceX and Bharti-owned OneWeb are looking to grab a piece of the Indian market. These changes promise to accelerate the development and availability of services in the country.

"Rapid advancements in technology allow for satellites to provide a host of connectivity options along with ample power and capacity resources," says the BIF press note.

"These new TEC specifications/standards now allow the freedom and flexibility to the ground segment players (VSAT) of the satellite ecosystem to fully exploit the capabilities of the next generation satellite networks."

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Satellite communications technology has undergone massive changes over the past few years – and antiquated rules were not allowing the country to leverage the benefits. Technologies like High Throughput Satellites and Non-Geo Stationary Orbit (NGSO), among others, stand to benefit from these new regulations.

Nearly 50% of India's population is yet to be connected to the Internet, and these measures may help service providers in expanding reach in rural areas.

The DoT is also likely to allow VSAT operators to provide satellite-based backhaul to communication service providers (CSPs). This will make it easier for CSPs to provide high-speed broadband connectivity in rural and hard-to-reach areas.

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— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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