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TRAI recommends setting-up of new gateway for providing satellite phone service

May 14, 2014
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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) be allowed to set-up a new gateway for providing satellite phone services to security agencies.

The regulatory body has suggested that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) should allow BSNL to establish new gateway immediately under “sui generis” category. Earlier, in December 2013, DoT had sought TRAI’s view on providing INMARSAT Services under the telecom licencing regime (2001).

India being a founding member of International Mobile Satellite Organisation (INMARSAT) which was established under the aegis of United Nations in 1979, had set-up one gateway required for providing satellite phone service in Pune under Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (now Tata Communications Limited). However, new licencing norms issued by the government in 2001 made it mandatory to set-up a gateway in the country for providing satellite phone services.

At present, none of the other operators in the country hold the required licence for offering satellite services.

Satellite phones in India are currently provided by Tata Communications Limited (TCL). At present, India has about 1,532 authorised satellite phone connections that can operate within country and a majority of them are used by security forces. TCL has also issued 4,143 permits to maritime community for use of satellite mobile phones at ships.

TRAI has expressed concerns regarding satellite mobile phones used by paramilitary forces supplied by foreign operators whose gateways are located outside India. Keeping security concerns in mind, defence forces have not opted for satellite phones from the foreign operators. Instead they have been demanding establishment of a new gateway in the country which can support new generation handsets for land mobile connections.

Further, regulatory body has recommended that DoT may consider BSNL’s request for waiver of entry fee, processing fee and performance bank guarantee for setting-up a gateway for providing satellite mobile phone services. In addition, the regulator has suggested that DoT may levy a licence fee of eight per cent on revenue generated by BSNL from satellite phone services.



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