Suggestions on Flexible Usage of Satellite Spectrum Spark Controversy in India

The Indian Space Association (ISpA) has accused telecom operators of attempting to mislead and derail the spectrum allocation process for the launch of satellite communications services. The controversy revolves around the allocation of space-based spectrum, with OneWeb and Amazon advocating for administrative allocation, while Reliance Jio backs the auction route.

Recently, Reliance Jio wrote to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to seek flexible usage of airwaves between satellite and terrestrial use. However, ISpA believes that this move is an effort to obstruct the preferred launch of satellite communication services.

ISpA clarified that the New Zealand government’s decision on the use of the 26 GHz spectrum band does not advocate for the flexible usage of satellite spectrum. It only defines the shared use of spectrum and specifies that a final decision on this matter will be made by 2026 after consultations.

The private space industry in India is still in its early stages, and recent successes such as the Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya L1 missions have boosted its growth potential. ISpA argues that these developments, coupled with the government’s efforts to fuel the Indian space economy, necessitate the administrative allocation of satellite spectrum.

The Department of Space and IN-SPACe have already expressed support for administrative allocation, stating that auctioning the satellite-based spectrum would hinder growth and impede innovation in the space sector, particularly for startups and other private players.

The controversy over the allocation of satellite spectrum highlights the challenges and differing perspectives within the Indian telecommunications industry. It remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved and how it will impact the future of satellite communications services in the country.