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TRAI’s recommendations for low bit rate applications will enable better quality and cheaper satellite services

Ayushi Kar Mumbai | Updated on September 01, 2021

Low bit-rate applications are especially pertinent for Internet of Things (IoT) devices

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, (TRAI)’s recommendations for low bit rate applications will enable better quality and cheaper satellite services, especially for IoT applications.

A low bit rate satellite link transfers the minimal amount of data whilst using limited resources such as a single-user ground terminal with a low transmission power, a small diameter antenna, etc. Low bit-rate applications are especially pertinent for Internet of Things (IoT) devices which many believe are expected to proliferate extensively in the new era of connected cities and devices.

In a span of two to three years, there will be ten IoT connected devices per person in the country, which will require low bit rate connectivity.

TV Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum said “These historic recommendations by the Regulator have generated tremendous excitement and enthusiasm in all sections of the industry, as they offer much-needed regulatory certainty to the sector, and are completely aligned to its critical needs. These impeccably balanced recommendations address the interests and requirements of all the stakeholders, across the digital communications as well as space verticals.” According to Ramachandran they would resolve the long pending issues of scarcity of Satcom capacity, significantly reduce regulatory costs, and would lead to increased efficiency in the delivery of services.

Also read: TRAI issues recommendations on ‘RoadMap to Promote Broadband Connectivity and Enhanced Broadband speed’

IoTs are becoming embedded in every electronic device, from refrigerator sensors to electricity meters which need low bit rate connectivity to transfer data. IoT devices also have multitudes of applications in the rural areas, where many sparsely populated areas with important economic activities suited for IoT related services may not have terrestrial coverage or other forms of connectivity. Therefore, satellites can help bridge this gap by providing coverage to even the most remote areas via low bit-rate apps. For instance, IoT devices can be used for the purposes of smart agriculture, to aid the farmer in monitoring dynamic weather conditions, studying soil patterns etc.

In order to provide services in such a scenario, the regulator has recommended that different satellite orbits and frequency bands can be selected based on the requirements of the application. Satellite orbits can be generally categorized as GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit), MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) and LEO (Low Earth Orbit).

Satellite-based services

The regulator also recommended allowing service licensees to obtain satellite bandwidth from foreign satellites in all the permitted satellite bands in order to provide satellite-based services since although the satellite communication space segment is being liberalized by the government for the participation of non-government private entities, it will take time to have adequate satellite capacity available in India through domestic satellites.

According to a press statement by Broadband India Forum, permitting the service licensees to obtain satellite bandwidth from foreign satellites in all the permitted satellite bands to provide satellite-based services would greatly enhance capacities for catering to the country’s digital connectivity needs, which are growing at a rapid pace.

Anil Prakash, Director General, Satcom Industry Association India said, “It is a welcome move by the TRAI, and a pathbreaking one, which has an impact on low bit applications, but it will also have an impact on other satellite-based services later on. Sourcing of bandwidth through other foreign satellites is also an interesting recommendation as it brings forth bandwidth liberalisation.”

Pranav Roach, President at Hughes Network Systems India Limited, however, remains sceptical regarding the magnitude of the impact of these recommendations, “While this is a welcome move for people providing low bit applications to access any kind of satellite and frequency bands, players offering other types of satellite-based applications such as banking, financial, cable services continue to be restricted. If these recommendations are good for low bit rate they are also good for other applications which are equally if not more pertinent and should be extended there as well.”

Published on September 01, 2021

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