New Delhi, Aug 18 (PTI) OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit satellite communications company backed by Bharti Group, has been granted letter of intent for national long distance (NLD), while its application for providing global mobile personal communication by satellite is under consideration, a senior Telecom Department official said on Wednesday.

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Addressing a session hosted by industry body Broadband India Forum (BIF) on ‘Satcom & 5G – The Final Frontier', R Shakya, DDG (Satellite), Department of Telecom assured that the government is looking to provide an enabling environment for satellite communications in the country.

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Referring to OneWeb, Shakya said that the firm has applied for licence on GMPCS (global mobile personal communication by satellite) services and NLD (national long distance) services using satellite constellations.

"I believe Letter of Intent (LoI) for NLD licence has already been issued to them. For GMPCS, since it requires a larger participation and discussion, and decision making entity is interministerial group under apex committee... those cases are under consideration and I am sure in due course, the decision will also be known," he said.

Shakya further said discussions are on with Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on how best to regulate the current licencing framework and provide an enabling environment to forthcoming technologies, especially in satellite sector, for geography specific and application based requirements.

"...the geographical requirement to serve some specific application, may not be entire may be, say, part of some taluka, few specific places and for that an intended party may not be interested to have the licence taken for the entire country. So, we are looking for licencing framework which could be be geography specific, application based. I am sure TRAI will initiate the process after the formal reference reaches them from DoT," Shakya added.

Broadband India Forum, President, TV Ramachandran noted that satellite communication would play a key role in 5G, and with future integration into emerging technology standards, it is expected to form a part of the mainstream, besides continuing to play a crucial role in ubiquitous coverage, emergency or disaster recovery and remote connectivity.

Various futuristic use cases in aerospace, maritime, agriculture, and Internet of Things call for satellite networks to be fully leveraged, to derive optimum benefits in conjunction with 5G.

"There is a crucial need for standardisation of universal interfaces between ground stations and satellites, as well as use of consumer terminals across different networks, to improve affordability of Satcom,” Ramachandran added.

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