Centre’s new call on internet spectrum a big win for Elon Musk’s Starlink

In a major win for Elon Musk, the central government has decided against the bidding of spectrum for internet airwaves. This move can potentially smoothen out the entry of Elon Musk’s satellite internet service Starlink.

Centre’s new decision can be a big potential win for Elon Musk’s Starlink. (Reuters)(REUTERS)

India has proposed a licensing approach to assigning spectrum for satellite internet services and exempt companies from having to bid for it, reported Reuters. Notably, Starlink had been lobbying against the bidding of the spectrum for a long time.

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This major decision by the Centre was mentioned in the new Telecommunications Bill 2023, presented in the Parliament this week. The new bill seeks to replace the 138-year old Indian Telegraph Act that currently governs the sector.

As the move comes as a major win for Elon Musk’s Starlink – as well as other global entities like Amazon’s Project Kuiper, and the British government’s OneWeb – the decision comes as a big setback for Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio.

Reuters had reported in June that foreign firms hoping to expand their markets in India have been demanding a licensing approach, concerned that an auction by the country unlike elsewhere will raise the likelihood of other nations following suit, increasing costs and investments.

Setback for Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio

Mukesh Ambani’s telecom provider Reliance Jio has been dominating the internet space in India for several years. Jio has been lobbying for bidding for the internet spectrum for several months, hoping to dominate the market in satellite internet airwaves for the coming years.

If the Indian government would have opted for bidding, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel were expected to lead in the space, pushing out international players like Starlink and OneWeb.

The internet spectrum allotment dates have not been released by the Indian government yet, but the notice regarding the same could be released after the results of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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