SATCOM in India: Opportunities for Enhanced Economic Growth

Satellite communication technology is growing rapidly. India’s share in the global satellite ecosystem is relatively small. India lags behind several countries in the adoption and implementation of cutting edge satellite technologies. It is alleged that the performance of India’s satellite industry is due to government overregulation and the restricted participation of foreign companies. However, as the application of satellite communication technologies is becoming more pervasive, there could be reconsideration with respect to deregulation of the sector. Market projections find that India’s demand for satellite broadband is likely to be high and use cases are likely to increase. However, the current tariffs in India are significantly higher than that in other countries. The comparison of policy architectures and regulatory interventions that govern satellite communications between India and other countries presents a case for reforming the regulatory framework towards unrestricted ‘open skies’. Developing countries such as India with sizeable infrastructural deficits can realise both quantitative and qualitative improvements in their economic growth and quality of life by unleashing the innovative and efficient capacities of the private sector in a crucial sector such as satellite communications. This study illustrates existing as well as promising potential use cases for satellite communications in India and argues for satellites complementing terrestrial communications capabilities to extend connectivity to the most challenging geographical and topological terrains of the country. For this growth to be unleashed, policymakers must reconsider the gradual liberalisation and adoption of open skies principles.