India’s Satellite Communications Eco-system at the Cusp of Huge Transformation in the Era of 5G and IoT


Broadband India Forum (BIF), recently held its Fourth International Annual Satcom Summit ‘India SatCom-2018’, in New Delhi. The event was inaugurated by the Chief Guest, Ms. Aruna Sundararajan, Telecom Secretary and Chairman, Digital Communications Commission, Govt. of India. Senior officials from Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) also graced the occasion. The event was attended by other leading Industry experts from India and abroad and other members of Satcom and Broadband fraternity

The Summit delved on various issues including the sector’s efforts to deliver connectivity and Broadband to the remote and difficult to access parts of the country, satellite mobility, inflight connectivity, new technologies and innovations, etc. The conference also deliberated on economic potential and ease of doing business issues in Satcom and Broadcasting sector in India to find out the way forward for deployment of Satellite communications technologies. The conference also reflected on drivers for Next Generation Satcom applications and services and satellite broadcasting in a converged era. A CXO Roundtable with Senior DoT officials was also organized on Nov 20, 2018, which was attended by more than 50 industry professionals.

The Event was attended by senior Government dignitaries from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), ISRO, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), C-DOT, BSNL and other leading Government and Private Technology stakeholders including leading industry experts from the satellite communications industry-both within India and abroad.

In her address, Ms. Aruna Sundararajan, Telecom Secretary and Chairman, Telecom Commission, Govt of India said, “The National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018 seeks to enable the vision of Digital India and realizes the importance of Satcom sector in achieving the Digital dream. Satcom is expected to play an active role in providing high speed broadband access and affordable digital connectivity to the unserved and underserved. The Government is committed to un-locking the potential of the Satcom to provide affordable and accessible broadband everywhere by connecting the unserved and the underserved and thereby help bridge the digital divide.”

 Ms. Sundararajan expressed happiness that India’s digital ecosystem was moving into a higher orbit and acceleration and said that this was validated by key indicators such as an exponential growth in data consumption. More importantly this data growth, she said, was being driven by people using data for the very first time, most of who came from India’s rural hinterland. Indians, she said, are now well and truly part of the digital age, both as consumers and creators.

Ms. Sundararajan also said that India needs to undertake a fundamental re-think on its SatCom policy in light of emerging requirements led by 5G and IoT among other developments. The policy would need to create a happy balance between autonomy, security and demand for services and a calibrated approach would be required to enable this and therefore bridge the communications deficit. She said that a future roadmap to enable this calls for serious engagement from all stakeholders that would create an ecosystem for significant investments, the potential for which she pegged at US$ 100 Billion.

Lastly Ms. Sundararajan also highlighted that the satellite communications ecosystem was at the cusp of huge change led by new and emerging satellite technologies such as LEO (Low-earth-orbit) and MEO (Medium-earth-orbit) systems and India needs to examine how these systems can be brought into India.

In his message, Mr. K Sivan, Secretary Department of Space (DoS) and Chairman, ISRO said, “The space technology plays a critical role in connecting the unconnected, despite the growing popularity of the terrestrial means of communication. When it comes to provide the connectivity to deep rural and inaccessible hilly areas, there is no alternative to Satcom.”

Industry representative lauded Ms. Sundararajan’s vision for the sector and agreed that a new era for the industry would unfold with increases private sector engagement and partnerships.

Dr. Rajat Kathuria, Director and Chief Executive, ICRIER said, “Satellite Communications can help fast track digital India initiatives. An enabling regulatory environment with increased private sector participation will catalyze the growth of Satcom in India as it did for Indian telecom”

Mr Jean Jacques Bruniera, Director, Strategic Initiatives, Thales Alenia Space said, “With the advent of the 5G standards, several radio technologies will be combined in a single network.  A satellite solution can be an attractive approach to supplement terrestrial networks, provided this satellite infrastructure is seamlessly integrated and operated within the 5G system. During the India Satcom 2018, Thales Alenia Space disclosed its satellite component concept which can seamlessly supplement the 5G terrestrial network and provide access communications to the regular end user terminals.”

 Mr. T.V. Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum said, “In order to mainstream satellite communication it is crucial to encourage the private sector investment in the space industry in India and attract foreign investments in this area. For the first time New Digital Communications Policy has outlined the government vision for Satcom and its ability to expand the use of broadband in every nook and corner of India. To make satellite bandwidth more affordable to consumers and use of new innovations will be key to change the landscape of communications in India and should be adopted on a large scale.”

Satellite Technology has immense potential for true Broadband applications. Broadband India Forum (BIF) has been working for the cause of proliferation of broadband and sees immense potential in the use of satellite as a medium for broadband and for acceleration of the government’s Digital India program. One of its Core beliefs is that India needs to tap the true potential of satellite communications, not just by gainfully exploiting the spare satellite capacities over the visible Indian arc but also through pro-active and pro-industry space policy.

About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

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