New Delhi

The government will allocate spectrum to satellite services companies only for point-to-point connection and not for direct transmission of services to retail consumers.

According to sources , the government will be open to telecommunications law as per market dynamics and requirement, as such technology will keep developing overtime in the future.

According to the Telecommunications Bill, 2023 tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday, the government has proposed allocation of spectrum to satellite communication companies through the administrative method which means without auction

“The administrative allocation of spectrum to satellite companies will be for point-to-point connection only. If they will provide services like access service providers (mobile operators), then allocation will be through auction,” a source said explaining the proposals.

Spectrum assignment

The source who did not wished to be named also said that auction will be the preferred mode for the assignment of spectrum by the government and assignment through the administrative process is for three clearly defined purposes —public interest (metro, community radio, broadcasting, etc); government functions (Defence, Railways, Police, etc); and cases where the auction is not the preferred mode of assignment due to technical or economic reason (backhaul, satellite, etc).

Companies such as Bharti’s OneWeb, which has been advocating administrative allocation and others like Reliance’s Jio Satellite Communications, Elon Musk’s Starlink, and Amazon’s Project Kuiper, will be competing in this space.

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Jio Satellite Communications has been advocating for auction of satellite spectrum, while other players were in favour of administrative allocation. Jio has also submitted two legal opinions of former judges arguing in favour of auction.

In September it had also suggested to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that the assignment of spectrum should be done flexibly so that it can be used for either terrestrial or satellite networks.

“This suggestion for flexible use of spectrum is based upon the latest changes in technology and standards which have allowed the creation of integrated and converged networks,” it had said in a letter to TRAI.

According to TRAI also, a fundamental requirement of spectrum auctions is accurate price discovery that determines the fair value of access to the spectrum resource. It says that while auctions rely on historical data for determining auction reserve prices and operators’ willingness to bid requires historical data, this data simply doesn’t exist for satellite services.

The regulator said that since these systems have always been designed to operate in shared and non-rivalrous conditions, no comparative data exists and therefore, there is a need for clear and transparent rules in the allocation of satellite spectrum.