Why India’s satcom space needs startups to drive use cases, ET Telecom

NEW DELHI: The Indian market is buzzing with satcom (satellite tv for pc communication) companies with overseas gamers, together with Sunil Mittal-backed OneWeb, Elon Musk’s Starlink and Amazon, eyeing a pie of the phase, which is anticipated to develop exponentially.

Satcom and terrestrial, i.e., cellular networks, will change into an vital piece to attach the entire nation. It might probably fill the present connectivity hole, particularly in rural and distant areas, the place cellular companies are sometimes dearer.

Nevertheless, satcom will possible be a small marketplace for shoppers like cellular companies however will play a major position in segments equivalent to defence, aviation, maritime and authorities sectors. Startups will play a serious position in creating and growing a set of latest use instances for the satcom sector.

“Satellite tv for pc communication helps area of interest functions, e.g., in-flight communications, connectivity between financial institution ATMs, and so on. The inclusion of satellite tv for pc companies within the 5G requirements and their growing use for broadband entry have boosted the prospects for area communication,” says Mahesh Uppal, an business knowledgeable.

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Satcom: Use instances

Satcom companies will primarily be about use instances for the federal government sector and enterprises relatively than shoppers for whom will probably be a distinct segment market.

A senior official from a satellite tv for pc firm stated that India is attempting to make a mark within the area phase with ISRO and varied satellite tv for pc launches, which is why the satcom companies ought to begin in a giant manner available in the market.

“The defence sector primarily makes use of Satcom companies, authorities departments and enterprises. Few use instances are already there; primarily, it might be connectivity through satellite tv for pc mode. For telecom gamers, will probably be backhaul transmission through satellite tv for pc the place they’ve been unable to supply connectivity,” the official stated.

“When it comes to the brand new use case, IoT is a giant alternative for India. There are reviews on what number of billion IoT gadgets are bought yearly. We might usually go into distant areas in numerous sectors, be it agriculture, pipeline monitoring, and so on. There will be a necessity for sturdy connectivity the place the connectivity needs to be stay on a regular basis. There once more, satellite tv for pc communication can play and can play a really massive position,” stated PJ Nath, MD & CEO of Nelco, a Tata Group firm.

The best know-how and frequency band (it) could be opened up. Nath stated Different new markets opening up might be direct-to-device with new 5G-compliant satellites being launched.

US-based Amazon has utilized for a satcom license in India beneath its Undertaking Kuiper. Sunil Mittal-backed OneWeb and Jio Satellite tv for pc have already acquired GMPCS allow, whereas Elon Musk’s Starlink software is beneath course of. Starlink has utilized to the Indian Nationwide Area Promotion & Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) to get clearances for organising earth stations.

The Indian startup phase can also be rising quickly on this area.

“The demand for satellite tv for pc earth statement knowledge has existed in India and globally for the final decade. You possibly can see one million issues from pictures; satellite tv for pc knowledge is a planetary-scale knowledge assortment mechanism. There are a whole lot of massive issues that may be solved by such knowledge pictures,” says Prateep Basu, CEO of SatSure.

SatSure is a choice analytics firm that makes use of satellite tv for pc distant sensing, machine studying, and large knowledge analytics to supply insights for verticals equivalent to agriculture, banking & monetary companies, and so on.

Awais Ahmed, Founder and CEO of Pixxel, stated, “There’s a broad and increasing demand for high-quality Earth statement knowledge. Satellite tv for pc-driven hyperspectral knowledge has the potential to drive important developments in analysis, monitoring, and decision-making. These developments will discover functions in industries starting from agriculture and mineral detection to catastrophe mitigation.”

By extension, hyperspectral knowledge and satellite tv for pc imagery may help tremendously with agriculture, aiding in classifying crop varieties and monitoring nutrient and soil imbalances and pests. Ahmed stated satellite tv for pc knowledge will also be used for city planning by serving to determine waterway well being and railroad situations, monitoring giant infrastructural tasks, and understanding asset harm throughout pure calamities.

Whereas the deal with Earth imaging satellites is pushed by clear market wants, business viability, and numerous functions, the area tech sector is huge. Over time, startups could diversify into different domains, equivalent to satellite tv for pc communications, area exploration, in-orbit servicing, and area tourism, because the business matures and evolves.

Satcom: The potential

The digital divide within the Indian market has worsened the pandemic. Regardless of being one of many fastest-growing cellular markets on the earth, a major inhabitants nonetheless must be related to the web. On one facet, the market is abuzz with the 5G launch, on the opposite, there are nonetheless areas the place cellular connectivity/web companies nonetheless have to set foot.

That is the place satcom might slot in and bridge the hole between digital connectivity.

Shivaji Chatterjee, President and Managing Director of Hughes Communications India, stated India is among the largest and unexplored untapped markets. Nonetheless, the satellite tv for pc business has to innovate and discover the niches and complementary options.

“There’s a renewed curiosity coming again into the satellite tv for pc area, regardless of the terrestrial networks reaching giant elements and swaths of geography with commendable speeds. And the reply to that’s fairly easy…there are nonetheless areas, giant swaths of land which stay uncovered, which wouldn’t have entry immediately. There are such a lot of use instances which exist immediately,” stated Rahul Vatts, Chief Regulatory Officer, Bharti Airtel.

India’s area economic system is about to rise to $13 billion by 2025, rising at a CAGR of 6%, in response to an EY-ISPA report. In-Area foresees an imminent area growth in India, pegging the nation’s area economic system to hit the $44-billion mark by 2033.

“India’s near-total reliance on mobile applied sciences for telephony and broadband is weak. In contrast to different main nations, India lacks the fall-back possibility of a nationwide fixed-line or satellite tv for pc community. These options lack the flexibility and affordability of mobile and pose little risk to the latter’s present market dominance. Nevertheless, their area of interest strengths and functionalities could be crucial in some instances and even life-saving, as expertise with pure disasters has usually proven,” Uppal stated.

Spectrum public sale or administrative allocation?

The controversy over whether or not the sitcom spectrum ought to be auctioned or allotted administratively remains to be a scorching matter and has divided the business.

The public sale could improve the prices of deploying satellite tv for pc companies, which is anticipated to additional delay entry to communications and broadband to unserved populations and areas. Consultants add that auctioning satellite tv for pc spectrum will create extra boundaries to deploying essential know-how as a substitute of eradicating current ones.

Only a few nations, together with the US, Mexico, and Brazil, have tried to public sale satellite tv for pc spectrum prior to now. Nevertheless, whoever tried has but to succeed and resorted to the executive allocation of the Satcom spectrum later. Globally, satellite tv for pc spectrum is authorised for right-to-use and is allotted solely by administrative course of.

Business chief Reliance Jio, owned by Mukesh Ambani, favours auctioning spectrum, whereas the second-ranked Bharti Airtel, owned by Sunil Mittal, is pushing for the executive allocation. Telecom regulator TRAI is formulating suggestions after issuing a session paper on this subject.

“Auctioning satellite tv for pc spectrum is dangerous coverage. India can’t afford to carve an alternate untested path to public sale satellite tv for pc spectrum, particularly if it reduces selection in applied sciences, companies, or each,” Uppal provides.

“There’s already a strategy for giving out spectrum immediately. Am (Hughes) getting my spectrum assigned. Authorities is attempting to take a look at whether or not for the longer term, in the long run, it ought to be the identical manner or whether or not we must always go for an public sale mannequin,” Chatterjee stated.

Public sale or no public sale, the satcom sector will play an important position in strengthening India’s presence on the worldwide map.

  • Revealed On Oct 24, 2023 at 08:10 AM IST

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