Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX is set to seek a permit to launch satellite Internet services in India under its Starlink brand, becoming the third company to apply for such a permit, the Economic Times reported on Wednesday.
SpaceX will also seek statutory approvals from the government for landing rights and market access, the report said, adding that it is likely to seek approvals from Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to set up local gateways.
SpaceX and DoT did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment after regular hours.
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SpaceX will “very shortly” apply for a Global Mobile Personal Communications By Satellite (GMPCS) services licence to Indian authorities, the report said, without giving further details. Bharti Group-backed OneWeb and Reliance Jio’s satellite arm have already applied for the permit.
Earlier this year, the Indian government asked Starlink to refund all its pre-orders until it received licences to operate in the country. Gadgets 360 reported in January that Starlink had begun emailing users in India offering refunds on their pre-orders.
The satellite Internet division of SpaceX had said that it had been directed by the Department of Telecom to refund pre-orders until the company’s Internet service is licensed in India. The company was previously believed to be working on launching its services in India in ten rural Lok Sabha constituencies.
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At the time, Starlink told customers in the email that the timeline for receiving licences to operate in India was “currently unknown” and that there were “several issues” that must be resolved within the licensing framework to allow the company to operate Starlink in the country.