Elon Musk's Starlink Satellite Communications and Bharti group-backed OneWeb are the two big firms in the fray to start broadband and other services in the country

The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has started to simplify the clearance process for setting up satellite-based broadband services. Elon Musk's Starlink Satellite Communications and Bharti Group-backed OneWeb are the two big firms in the fray to start broadband and other services in the country.

"We are also simplifying clearance procedures for satellite networks so that it takes a minimum amount of time to roll out," DoT Deputy Director-General S Niraniyan while speaking at the Satcom Industry Association event.

Recently, the Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan informed the Parliament that Elon Musk's Starlink Satellite Communications has applied for an experimental/trial license in DoT. The minister said that Starlink has intended to apply for all the applicable licenses and authorisations required for commercial launch in India.

However, the Telecom department has directed the company to refrain from booking satellite-based internet services before obtaining requisite licences, according to the minister.

This month only, Starlink Country Director Sanjay Bhargava said that they will be applying for a commercial license in early 2022 to provide broadband and other services.

"We hope to have applied for a commercial license on or before 31st January 2022 (unless we hit some major roadblock)," Bhargava had said in a LinkedIn post.

Meanwhile, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its consultation paper on "Ease of Doing Business in Telecom and Broadcasting Sector" has sought views on making all the permissions online and setting up a single-window clearance system that will coordinate with other ministries concerned involved in granting permission to a telecom or broadcast player.

The paper also talks about simplifying processes for satellite services.

The regulator has sought views on time-bound approvals with the provision of deemed approvals from the government departments concerned.

It has proposed to involve the Department of Space, power ministry, etc also in the process as they too play a key role in various kinds of permits.