TRAI floats consultation paper on licensing satellite-based connectivity

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TRAI floats consultation paper on licensing satellite-based connectivity

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has floated a Consultation Paper on ‘Licensing framework for satellite-based connectivity for low bit rate applications’ for both commercial as well as captive usage’.

Satellite communication can provide coverage to the remotest and inaccessible areas of a geographically widespread country such as India. “The uniqueness and benefit of satellite technology cannot be underestimated. It can play an important role in enhancing crucial nationwide communication infrastructure,” TRAI said in the paper floated on Friday.

With the evolution of satellite communication technologies, new types of applications based on low-bit-rate applications are emerging and such applications require low-cost, low-power and small-size terminals that can effectively perform the task of signal transfer with minimum loss, it said.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), through its letter dated November 23, 2020, had requested TRAI (under section 11(1)(a) of the TRAI Act), to furnish recommendations on ‘Licensing Framework to enable the provisioning of satellite based low bit-rate applications for both commercial and captive usage’.

The DoT had said there is a need for suitable licensing framework providing such services, both on commercial as well as captive usage. In view of this, DoT requested TRAI to examine all the factors holistically and recommend enabling provisions under the existing licensing framework of DoT, or new licensing framework may be suggested including the entry fee, license fee, bank guarantee, spectrum usage charges/royalty fee, etc. for such services for both commercial and captive usage.

The regulator has asked for the written comments on the consultation paper from the stakeholders by April 9 and counter-comments by April 23.

The typical applications/use cases utilising a satellite networking protocol and sensor connectivity solutions are envisaged in numerous sectors such as agriculture, smart farming, deep-water applications, mission-critical services, oil and gas, fisheries, forestry, logistics, mining, industrial logistics, railways, remote utilities, disaster preparedness and many more.

Some applications/ use cases, utilising low-bit-rate satellite-based communication include supply chain management — vehicle fleet management, on-time delivery, real-time location, inventory, cold chain management of refrigerated items like medicine/ food.

Similarly, smart grids — for remote transmission towers monitoring, load distribution, supply/ demand management; Railways — geo-location of rolling stock assets, monitoring of safety systems in a train, mission critical two-way data; Disaster Management — delivery of real-time and geo-location alerts in case of floods, landslides, emergency alert broadcasts.

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