Telecom asks DoT to stop OneWeb, Starlink, Amazon from getting free 5G spectrum

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The Telecom NGO said the Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that all other natural resources such as spectrum or orbital slots are used for telecom services, whether used as a spine or in terrestrial networks through satellite constellations, should be allocated only through auction”.

Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash, a consumer forum and an NGO, has asked Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash to prevent free grabbing of the potential 4G/5G spectrum through amazon-backdoor, which establishes three global Leo satellite operators- Bharti-backed OneWeb, Aon Musk’s Starlink, and Jeff Bezos. It warned that any move to give these satellite companies accesses to top-class airwaves worth billions of rupees without auction would violate the country’s apex court’s decision, pose national security challenges and mess up equal opportunities in the telecom sector.

“Many deep-pocketed companies like OneWeb, Starlink, and Amazon have lined up to grab 4G/5G spectrum free of cost under the guise of providing affordable high-speed satellite-based internet services in rural and remote areas, and efforts by all satellite players and their lobby groups to gain back-door entry into India’s telecom market should be thwarted,” the telecom watchdog said in a letter to Prakash. ET has seen a copy of the letter.

Telecom Watchdog’s letter to Prakash Sunil Mittal, Chairman, Bharati Enterprises, who is also the Executive Chairman of OneWeb, has said that there is no case for auction of satellite spectrum, and it will not be in line with global norms.

“Worldwide, there has never been an auction for satellite spectrum. This terrestrial spectrum is not being used, it is being used not in every part of the country but only two landing stations at those specific points,” Mittal had recently told reporters while talking about OneWeb India schemes.

Bharti-backed OneWeb and Musk’s StarLink are all set to launch satellite broadband services in India from next year. Amazon, which is also building a Leo satellite constellation as part of its project Kuiper global space internet drive, is yet to reveal its India plans.

In its letter to dot, Telecom Watchdog has stated that since these global Singh Satellite Nakshatra operators will complete the same set of customers for similar services, it should be made mandatory for them to offer services through a single licensing framework following the principle of ‘equal service, uniform rule’.

It asserts that there is only one legally valid way of allocating spectrum for communication services set up by the Supreme Court in the 2G case, i.e. auction, and dilution of this principle can lead to an excess of legal condemnation and litigation.

The NGO said that any other mode of spectrum allocation for providing 4G/5G services through satellites would be the amount for ‘unauthorized backdoor entry’ in the telecom sector, which is against the established principles of ‘Equal Opportunity for the systematic development of the telecom sector envisaged in the preamble to the TRAI Act, 1997.

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