India Intends to Use Satellites for Broadband Service

Evolving satellite technologies may offer competitive broadband architectures in the future, India’s Telecom minister Manoj Sinha said. He was talking at an event organized by Broadband India Forum. Providing Affordable broadband to the public is a challenge to the telecommunication authorities in India. Though the Indian government makes every effort to deploy wired broadband through optical fibers, the reality in India makes the service providers depend on wireless technologies.

Satellite technologies are likely to make broadband services more affordable, which seems to be practical and true in Indian scenarios. Countries having similar situations as India may also adapt to affordable broadband technologies that include satellite technology. Though 100 percent fiber deployment is a dream project for the government, at some locations it may be easier for the wireless technologies to penetrate affordably.

The Indian government has therefore made a provision for using satellite services for providing broadband connections under the second phase of the Bharat Net project. Critics view this as a step back from the government’s initial plans and some people even blame it on the influence of wireless equipment suppliers on corrupt Indian telecom bureaucrats. It is a fact that for any country, 100 percent dependency on wired technology for broadband doesn’t make practical sense. There should be a co-existence of different architectures to ensure redundancy.

New satellite innovations are likely to make broadband more affordable, available and accessible to public agencies, industries, and individuals. The Minister also added that realizing the importance of satellite communications (satcom), the government has included it in the second phase of the national broadband network project Bharat Net, which seeks to provide broadband infrastructure to rural and remote areas.

While optical fiber and mobile broadband are the preferred technologies for the backbone of broadband, it is also clear that unlike in the case of mobile, 100 percent broadband penetration would not be possible unless we use other technologies like wi-fi, cable broadband, and Satcom in particular.

Local newspapers quoted from the Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan that a lot of satellite companies had expressed interest in providing services in India, especially to consumers during air travel and some of the companies had also expressed in making their satcom products in the country. She also added that the Government is committed to ensuring that commercial satellite operations are not hindered. They are indeed encouraged and promoted for reaching the unreached. The Department of Telecom will take up policy issues related to satcom with the Department of Space. Current status of Satellite communication in India is almost negligible and is at the same level where mobile communications were in 1994.

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