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BW Businessworld

‘Propose Satellite For Broadband Coverage’

Pradman Kaul, global president, Hughes Network Systems says the company may invest $500 million in a high-throughput communications satellite that could significantly enhance and improve India’s broadband coverage

Pradman Kaul, global president, Hughes Network Systems says the company may invest $500 million in a high-throughput communications satellite that could significantly enhance and improve India’s broadband coverage. Excerpts from a conversation with BW Businessworld’s Monica Behura

Q: You are here to discuss the possibility of launching a high-throughput broadband satellite for India...

We have been talking to the Indian government and have told them what we are doing across the world — launching these high throughput broadband satellites and providing capabilities that are no longer just limited to the developed world, but now also in the Emerging Markets.

Just about three or four months ago, we launched a major system in Brazil, just like the one we are proposing for India.

Q: So what exactly are you proposing?
We have a proven model that works and are also seeing significant demand for this kind of capability from across the world. And so, we’re proposing a high-throughput satellite along with ground infrastructure that would cost $500 million and this is part of our proposal to the FIPB and the government.

Q: What are your expectations from the government — on the policy front?
This is consistent with Prime Minister Modi’s Digital India Mission, which intends to reduce India’s digital divide and ensure that every Indian has access to high-speed broadband Internet.

To bridge this divide, satellites have an important role to play.

Q: What was the outcome of your engagement with the Indian government?
Till now we did not get the necessary approvals from the government despite submitting our proposals a decade ago. We are talking to the government about the existing policy that permits private companies in India with 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) to set up this infrastructure.

It requires permission from the regulatory authorities, which is what we are trying to work on, but have not succeeded so far. While the intention is there, this has not translated into real ground reality.

Q: So how long will it take?
It’s consistent with wanting investments into the country and it’s a complete no-risk approach for the government. We are not asking the government to put up any money. We also think part of the problem is the way you understand this industry.

In most developed countries, the roles of manufacturing and operation have separated. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration does not lease transponders to television operators. They are more concerned about deep space exploration. Here in India, all of this is concentrated in just one body — the Indian Space Research Organisation.




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