Nokia helps broadband builders

Satellite Broadband holds the key to make digital inclusion, IFMC services a reality in India

Day-two of Broadband India Forum’s annual flagship event, India SatCom 2020‘ deep-dived on two important topics- In-Flight & Maritime Communications (IFMC)  and Rural Broadband.

Both the sessions saw participation from senior government dignitaries and leading industry experts in the satellite communications vertical, from India and abroad.

The session on ‘Making IFMC Services a major success in India’ brought forth the salient features of how the extant policy and regulatory framework could make In-flight connectivity and Maritime services a reality over India. While globally IFC and maritime markets are maturing in terms of standards and quality of services, India is just beginning to open its market for these services. To do so effectively, India needs to quickly adopt the global standards for these services. The Challenges faced by the licensees based on the existing Licensing & Regulatory framework need to be addressed so that such services are facilitated in Indian waters and airspace at par with the best global practices. Today we need to create the necessary framework to make the Indian market a part of any maritime/aeronautical service which has global attributes.

The session on ‘Rural Broadband – Satcom’s Role’ highlighted the need for Satellite Broadband to provide connectivity across the length and breadth of the country. While terrestrial connectivity is feasible and economically viable to deploy in urban areas, when it comes to rural and remote areas, the cost of providing terrestrial connectivity shoots up by almost 10-20x, thereby making it economically unviable for terrestrial technologies to reach the last 20% of the population. It is in such areas that Broadband through Satellite would serve as a prudent solution, as it does not have to overcome the challenges associated with Right of Way and the huge costs associated with roll out of terrestrial technologies. However, the present capacity through indigenous satellites is inadequate to meet the demand and requires to be augmented manifold times to be able to do so. If domestic capacity is unable to meet the current and the growing demand, more private/foreign satellite capacities need to be harnessed for the same, especially given the fact that we have a huge amount of idle satcom capacity over our skies.

Apart from providing Consumer Broadband solutions in unserved and underserved areas, satcom can also complement the fiber roll-out programme of Bharat Net, facilitating robust rural digital outreach. Besides, satcom can also be instrumental in providing backhaul support for cellular (4G) and Wi-Fi nodes, while also serving the requirements of Enterprises (over 500,000 units) and 5G networks.

BIF President, TV Ramachandran said, “All the top economies of the world viz. USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Brazil, use Broadband from Communication Satellites. One of the most wired broadband countries with almost 80% fiber connectivity – USA, has the highest deployment of Satellite based broadband with over 4 million terminals deployed and continues to grow at the rate of almost 90,000 subscribers per month. India, with its huge and diverse geographic spread, inaccessible terrains, vast area of unconnected rural & remote villages and huge challenges of Right of Way (RoW), can benefit from Satellite broadband many times more than these countries. However, we still have a long way to go.”

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