Starlink, a satellite internet service provider owned by Elon Musk, founder and CEO of an American aerospace company called SpaceX has reached the Indian government for approvals of satellite broadband technologies. The company has expressed its interest in launching satellite Internet constellation Starlink to India in a filing submitted with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The company said it was on track with constellation deployments for continuous Starlink coverage throughout India by the end of 2021.
SpaceX Satellite Internet Provider Starlink
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation for providing internet access, being constructed by SpaceX. The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), working in combination with ground transceivers. The cost of the project was estimated by SpaceX in May 2018 to be about US$10 billion.
In 2018, two prototype test-flight satellites were launched. and by May 2019, additional 60 satellites were deployed in operation, aiming to deploy 1,440 satellites to provide near-global service by late 2021 or 2022. SpaceX planned a private beta service in the Northern United States and Canada by August 2020 and a public beta in November 2020, service beginning at high latitudes between 44° and 52° North.
Responding to a TRAI consultation paper, SpaceX Vice President Patricia Cooper said that new technologies like Starlink might require deliberation of updated rules, policies, and regulations. She also recommended suggestions including the encouragement of technology-neutral broadband definitions and assigning already-allocation frequencies for the use of satellite systems.
“Starlink’s early performance tests demonstrate that NGSO (Non-geostationary) satellite technology is undoubtedly capable of meeting not only the current broadband definition but also those increased criteria recommended by TRAI,” Cooper wrote in the filing dated September 21.
SpaceX also noted while responding to questions put by TRAI that policies constraining the use of advanced satellite technologies such as Starlink might be a contributor to higher costs of fixed broadband and slower speeds of existing broadband services. The company additionally mentioned that terrestrial fixed wired and wireless technologies came with an “inherent infrastructure expense based on a cost per kilometer that made it difficult to scale.
“SpaceX does not require expensive ‘last-mile’ fiber lines in order to deliver reliable high-speed broadband,” Cooper said SpaceX also asked for “blanket licensing” to allow multiple identical satellite terminals for broadband connectivity and urged utilization of Ka-band frequencies that is used by fixed satellite services systems including Starlink. Similarly, it asked the regulator to consider the potential of satellite operations in V- and E-band frequencies.
SpaceX successfully deployed the initial 60 Starlink Internet-beaming satellites in space in May last year. The company also expanded its footprint in satellite broadband space in February by launching 60 additional satellites. However, it is likely to face a tough fight with Amazon that announced an over $10 billion (roughly Rs. 74,487 crores) investment in a satellite broadband plan in late July.
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