Need to implement open sky policy: RS Sharma 

There is a need to implement “Open Sky” policy both in letter and spirit and not be protectionist says Dr. RS Sharma, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) speaking at the inaugural session of India Satcom 2019.

In his address, Dr. RS Sharma, Chairman, TRAI said, “There is a huge cost difference in satellite bandwidth between India and the US. The reason for this is not inefficiency of technology. The reason is that we have not allowed the Satcom sector to embrace market forces; because we have not implemented the ‘Open Sky’ policy which was earlier part of the earlier telecom policy and is also a part of the NDCP 2018. There is therefore a need to implement the Open Sky policy both in letter and spirit and not be protectionist. India needs to be technology agnostic and embrace technologies that are robust, frugal, scalable and ubiquitous to overcome current terrestrial challenges such as constraints with the ‘right-of-way’ approach being faced in the laying of fiber.”

Our regulatory disadvantages need to be ironed out and the government of India, DoT, DoS and TRAI are cognizant of the need to embrace new and emerging ICT technologies including Satcom to override existing challenges, benefit multiple sectors of the economy and finally fructify India’s digital dreams,” added Sharma.

Multiple studies have shown how the Indian Government’s Digital India initiative can benefit from satellite broadband. Remote, unconnected areas that struggle with basic needs such as electricity, are prime candidates for satellite intervention, apart from mountainous and other inhospitable terrain where satellite broadband scores over its terrestrial counterpart in terms of techno-economic feasibility.

Dr. K Sivan, Secretary, Department of Space (DoS) and Chairman, ISRO, via a special video message said, “This will provide a platform to discuss various aspects of the technologies, applications and implementation. I’m sure the participants will deliberate on the new trends in satcom technology, seamless integration with terrestrial technologies, rollout plans and finally bringing the benefits to the citizens. The people living in unreached and under-reached places should get access to these technologies in order to ensure inclusive growth.”

Rakesh Sasibhushan, CMD, Antrix said, “Global space commerce is pegged at $360 billion and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.6%. While the commercial space industry is a significant contributor to the western economy, in India, the domain is still in its infancy and a lot of work needs to be done for the continued growth of this critical sector.”

TV Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum said, “Satellite communications needs further mainstreaming across India to help reach our Digital India Mission goals – specifically to bolster terrestrial technologies such as fiber and mobile towers and make them ready for the advent of 5G. To this end, India’s Satcom policy should also allow for a multiplicity of Satcom technologies including new spectrum re-use, high throughput satellites, as well as LEO and MEO satellite constellations, to provide ubiquitous, high-speed broadband access across every corner of India.”

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.

A white paper, titled “Liberalising Satellite Communications in India: Opportunities for enhanced economic growth” jointly developed by BIF and Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) was released at the event.

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