Following a warning from the Indian government, Starlink, the satellite internet division of Elon Musk-led SpaceX, has said it will apply for a commercial license early next year to provide broadband and other services.
“We expect to have applied for a commercial license on or before January 31, 2022,” Sanjay Bhargava, India’s Starlink country director at SpaceX, said in a LinkedIn post.
If the company can start its services by April, it aims to have 200,000 Starlink devices in India by December 2022, said a presentation posted by Bhargava. The company had earlier said that it expects 80 per cent of these devices to be in rural areas.
A message was issued by the Indian government on November 27 after the company started pre-booking for satellite broadband services.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had said that Starlink Internet Services is not licensed to offer satellite-based Internet services in India, and advised the public to refrain from subscribing to its services.
DoT clarified that the company “must obtain a license before offering satellite-based services”.
While Starlink has already received over 5,000 pre-orders for its devices in India, it has not launched any services.
Starlink is one of a growing number of companies launching small satellites as part of a low-Earth orbit network to provide low-latency broadband Internet services around the world, with a particular focus on remote areas, where The terrestrial internet infrastructure struggles to reach.
Its competitors include Amazon.com’s Kuiper and OneWeb which are co-owned by the British government and India’s Bharti Enterprises.