Reliance Jio Opposes Unauctioned Satellite Spectrum Commercialization

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Three points you will get to know in this article:

  • Jio wants a refund for Spectrum if FWA for satellite companies is allowed.
  • DoT finalizing rules for satellite communication spectrum allocation.
  • 2023 Telecom Bill allocates satellite licenses administratively.

Reliance Jio's Concern Over Spectrum Allocation

According to reports, Reliance Jio has reached out to the telecom department, urging them not to permit the use of administratively-allocated satellite spectrum for commercial services such as fixed wireless access (FWA). They argue that this spectrum is vital for 5G applications and should only be allocated through auctions.

Jio's Proposal to Ensure 5G Spectrum Priority

In a letter addressed to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Jio proposed that companies should receive refunds for the amount they paid to acquire spectrum through auctions if FWA for satellite communication providers is allowed. This suggestion was reported by ET, citing officials familiar with the situation.

For those unfamiliar, FWA technology provides fixed broadband access through radio frequencies.

DoT's Deliberations on Spectrum Regulations

Jio is one of the many prominent companies competing for a license in India’s satellite broadband sector.

According to the report, Jio informed the DoT that spectrum allocation for commercial services should only be conducted through auctions.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is currently working on settling regulations related to the administrative distribution of spectrum, especially for satellite communication, which covers services like global mobile personal communication by satellite (GMPCS).

According to the report, there are hints that the DoT might introduce clauses to prevent satellite communication companies from directly serving individual customers. Nevertheless, the department might allow satellite communication services to be accessible through fixed terminals. Still, there’s uncertainty regarding whether Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) will be allowed under these regulations.

Policy Shifts in Satellite Communication Licensing

It’s worth mentioning that in the recently passed Telecommunication Bill of 2023, there’s been a shift towards allocating satellite communication licenses through administrative channels. This move was hailed as a big win for companies such as OneWeb, supported by Bharti Airtel, Elon Musk’s Starlink, and Amazon’s Kuiper.

Differing Stances on Spectrum Allocation

For quite some time now, Jio has been advocating for a spectrum auction to allocate resources for satellite broadband services. Last year, when the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) sought opinions through a consultation paper, Jio stood firm in its support for auction-based allocation. This stance contrasts with OneWeb, Starlink, and Kuiper, who advocated for administrative assignment of spectrum for their satellite communication services.

Licensing Developments for Satellite Broadband

OneWeb was granted approval by the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) in November of last year to launch its commercial satellite broadband services in India. It was anticipated that Starlink would also soon receive permission from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to offer satellite broadband services.

The telecom landscape in India is witnessing a debate over the allocation of satellite spectrum for commercial services like fixed wireless access (FWA). Reliance Jio advocates for auction-based spectrum allocation to prioritize 5G applications, contrasting with other companies supporting administrative assignment. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is navigating regulatory decisions to balance access to satellite communication services, potentially restricting direct customer service while enabling fixed terminal access. The industry awaits clarity on whether FWA will be permitted under the evolving spectrum regulations.

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