Elon Musk-headed SpaceX is planning to join hands with Indian companies to locally manufacture satellite communications equipment. This comes as the company prepares to launch its high-speed Starlink satellite broadband service in India next year. The equipment that SpaceX is aiming to produce in the country includes antenna systems and user terminal devices.
“SpaceX is excited to find ways to work together with the Indian industry for manufacturing products for its Starlink devices,” Matt Botwin, director (market access with the Starlink program) said, during SpaceX’s first official interaction with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary Anshu Prakash, reported ET.
The company always looks for opportunities to maximize the efficiency of its (global) supply chain, and “is now looking forward to working with its partners in India to recognize those opportunities”, Botwin said.
The DoT had called a meeting with global satellite companies to discuss a holistic roadmap for locally manufacturing satellite communications gear and ways to create an enabling regulatory regime for global low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation operators to establish in-country gateways in India. Officials from OneWeb, Viasat, Hughes, Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, the Department of Space, and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India were present at the meeting.
India’s satellite-based communications space is heating up with the likes of SpaceX, Bharti Global-backed OneWeb, and Jeff Bezos-led Amazon’s Project Kuiper looking to enter the country’s nascent satellite broadband space starting next year.
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Speaking about SpaceX’s long association with India, Matt Botwin added that the company has been working with the Indian industrial sector for a long time, buying steel and steel-tubing for many of its rockets. The company is now looking forward to producing hardware and satellite components and components of (satellite broadband) networks in India.
On March 5, 2021, Elon Musk’s SpaceX began the pre-booking service of its high-speed internet program ‘Starlink’, in India. The official website of Starlink read: “The pre-booking service is available to Indian users at a refundable fee of $99 (₹7,265). Starlink is available to a limited number of users per coverage area at this time. Orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis.”
During the meeting, satellite companies strongly discouraged the Indian government from auctioning mmWave satellite spectrum in the 28 GHz band for 5G mobile services, saying such a move would impact their data download speeds and geographical reach in India. The coveted 28 GHz spectrum – with a band range from 27.5 GHz to 29.5 GHz – is currently used exclusively by satellite players but it is considered a highly efficient band for 5G services.