SpaceX Starlink Nears Approval in India by Month’s End: Report

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service is poised to receive approval from Indian authorities for offering space broadband services.

The nod, expected in the “next few days” or by the end of the month, follows Starlink’s clarification to India’s Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT) regarding its shareholding pattern, reports the Economic Times.

According to these sources, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) may soon issue a Letter of Intent to Starlink. The company has reportedly addressed one of the critical issues raised by the Indian government about not offering services to any bordering country. This agreement aligns with the concerns of the Indian government following the Galwan border skirmishes with China in 2020.

The DoT is currently preparing a note for approval by telecom secretary Neeraj Mittal and minister of Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw, who are both currently not in India. Following their approval, the Satellite Communications Wing is expected to issue the formal approval letter to SpaceX.

In 2020, DPIIT revised its foreign investment policy, which now requires companies investing in India to declare that they have no shareholding in any country sharing a land border with India, for national security reasons.

The impending approval of Starlink is a significant development in the Indian satellite communications market. This sector already sees participation from Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio’s satcom venture and Bharti Global-backed Eutelsat OneWeb, both holding GMPS licenses to offer services. Additionally, Jeff Bezos-led Amazon has sought licenses for its Project Kuiper satellite broadband business in India.

The approval for Starlink, which had to withdraw pre-registrations in 2021 due to the absence of necessary approvals, marks a pivotal moment for India’s space economy. Industry estimates suggest that India’s space economy could reach $44 billion in the next 10 years.