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Telecom Bill 2023 Revolutionizes India’s Satellite Landscape

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 In a historic and transformative decision to promote structural reforms in the telecom sector, the Indian Parliament approved the Telecom Bill 2023 on Thursday, December 21, 2023. This landmark move repeals the colonial era 138-year-old Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. and underscores a commitment to the development, expansion, and operation of telecommunication services in an unprecedented manner, bringing a modern and future-ready legal framework.

The bill aims to ensure widespread access to telecommunication services through satellite spectrum assignment in a liberalized and technologically neutral manner. The approved bill adopts a non-auction route and proposes to assign the satellite spectrum through administrative method aligning with global best practices, and emphasizing global harmonization and standardization for satellite spectrum assignments. In this context, SIA-India gratefully recalls and quotes the words of Hon’ble Prime Minister in the Parliament, which are to be engraved in golden letters in annals of space history in India.  During his intervention, he emphasized that ‘the non-auction route for the allocation of satellite spectrum is essential for national security.”. This groundbreaking step seeks to bridge the digital divide, enhance rural and remote connectivity, and support critical sectors, thereby transforming India’s satellite landscape facilitating the entry of new technologies and competitors into the market, promoting innovation.

SIA-India, backed by its satellite operation and services members such as Viasat/Inmarsat, Asiasat, Hughes Communication, SES, Intelsat, Telesat, Lamhas, and Omnispace, has steadfastly advocated for progressive satcom policies, particularly emphasizing spectrum assignment through administrative licensing. The association assumes a crucial role in shaping the future of satellite communications in the country, with its unwavering advocacy efforts extending over 33 months and culminating in this pivotal legislative milestone. At this momentous juncture, SIA-India is pleased to record that the Association’s continuous and dedicated efforts and engagement with higher echelons and policymakers at all concerned levels in the government during this period has proven fruitful, in fostering the growth of a robust satellite industry in India.

“The Telecom Bill represents a significant stride in aligning India’s satellite industry with global standards. We extend our appreciation to the Ministry for their efforts in understanding and incorporating the industry’s perspectives. SIA-India also expresses gratitude to the DoT, ISRO, INSPACe and TRAI for their valuable support. Our association remains steadfast in working collaboratively with the government to foster the development of a vibrant and competitive satellite sector,” commented Dr. Subba Rao Pavuluri, President of SIA-India.

“The Telecom Bill recognizes the pivotal role of satellite digital connectivity in India’s strategic initiatives, enhancing rural connectivity, national defence, disaster management, and supporting sectors like agriculture, health, and education. With over 1300 Gati Shakti projects and various national missions, the demand for broadband connectivity is crucial. This aligns with the blurring lines between remote and near in sectors like shipping, ports, waterways, tolls, roads, and highways. The ongoing dynamics of migration, amplified by Covid-19, highlight the need for resilient and efficient connectivity. National missions like SMART CITIES, UDAAN, National Health Mission, New Education Policy, and PM WANI require multiple access technologies, where space-based satellite services become crucial. The Telecom Bill’s spectrum assignment for satellite services reflects the government’s foresightedness commented Anil Prakash, Director-General of SIA-India.

SIA-India is keenly looking forward to the New Telecom Act and its provisions being implemented and enforced accordingly. SIA-India is committed to ensuring that the regulatory framework supports the growth of the satellite communication industry. The association commits itself for continued collaboration with the government and industry partners, promoting policies that drive innovation and growth in satellite communications.

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