Satellite communication industry promotes competition in India

MUMBAI: Indias satellite broadcasting and telecommunications industries gave renewed support to optimising regulations for satellite services within India.

A meeting attended by members of the VSAT Services Association of India (VSAI), the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa) and the Global VSAT Forum (GVF) exchanged views and information with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and Indias Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on the expansion of Indias access to competitively priced satellite communications services.

At the summit conclusion, the private sector was unanimous in its support for the Trai-based recommendation that an 'Open Skies' satellite services policy should be implemented without delay.

"Satellite services underpin Indias communications infrastructure and have the potential to revolutionise the publics access to new and exciting interactive media and telecommunications, said VSAI secretary general B G Bhalla.

"Underlying the meeting recommendations was one incontestable fact. There is a huge pent-up demand within India for satellite services which cannot be met in the current regulatory environment," said Casbaa CEO Simon Twiston Davies.

"Broadcast channels supported by bandwidth-hungry high definition TV and interactive telecommunications services cannot be deployed unless there is significant additional satellite inventory made available within India, said GVF secretary general David Hartshorn.

During the summit, the private sector called upon the government of India to implement a Trai recommendation that an 'Open Skies' policy should be adopted for direct-to-home (DTH) and VSAT operators similar to that available to ISPs. According to Trai: DTH and VSAT providers "should be allowed to work directly with any international satellite."

According to a joint Casbaa-GVF paper released during the meeting, with new supply of DTH and VSAT capacity limited to a best-case total of 36 new government-sanctioned transponders for India over the next three years, the ability of any company wishing to use Indian uplinked DTH or VSAT services will be severely limited.

The meeting of more than 25 industry leaders and government officials debated the opportunities for satellite services that are fast emerging as Indias communications sector digitises and introduces new consumer services. Without change in government policy, Indias communications industry will under-perform on the promise of the digital revolution, according to the satellite industry executives.

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