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India discusses satellite spectrum auctions

The Indian government asked the regulator TRAI to look into auctioning spectrum for NGSO services.

| Jonathan Watson

In our recent story on India’s Telecommunications Act, we noted that it explicitly stated GMPCS licences were to be assigned administratively. GMPCS stands for Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellites.

This seemed odd, as the regulator TRAI had been consulting since April 2023 on how to auction spectrum for NGSO (non-geostationary satellite) services. The spectrum in question was in the C, Ku and Ka bands.

In our new research note, we take a look at the debate prompted by this consultation (apparently now settled by the new telecoms law). Satellite companies were, as expected, opposed to the idea of auctions. Intelsat, Starlink, Amazon-owned Project Kuiper, OneWeb—all queued up to outline their concerns.

However, two of India’s mobile operators, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio, were more positive.

In a second related research note, we examine what TRAI said about auctions of satellite spectrum that have been held in other countries, such as Brazil, Mexico, Thailand and the US.

The regulator concluded that these auctions were not really comparable to what India was planning to do. Another auction held in Saudi Arabia was more instructive, but it was for spectrum in the S-band, which is more suited to exclusive assignment than the higher bands that the Indian government was interested in.

Both research notes are now available to subscribers to the Spectrum Research Service:

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