How Elon Musk’s Starlink may face license delay in India due to Verizon case

Elon Musk’s satellite network Starlink has been hoping to enter the Indian market in 2024, but it might be facing some delays in getting a license in the country due to the problems the Indian government faced during the Verizon case, reported The Economic Times.

Elon Musk’s Starlink is facing a delay in getting its permits in India(Reuters file photo)

As per the ET report, Elon Musk is currently facing a delay in obtaining the license to launch his Starlink satellite internet network in India due to a past case pertaining to Verizon Communications, a US telecom company.

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One of the primary things demanded by the Indian government while granting the license is the complete disclosure of ownership, which is where Starlink has hit a snag. Starlink said that US privacy laws prevents it from sharing the ownership details of SpaceX, its parent company, reported ET.

Starlink further provided a declaration to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in India asserting that none of its shareholders are from countries that share a land border with India, which was a problem the country faced when Verizon was seeking a license in India.

When Verizon sought a license in India

Verizon Communications India was in a similar situation last year when it had sent a declaration to DoT for renewing its Internet Service Provider (ISP) license. In the declaration, Verizon stated that none of its shareholders are from countries that share a land border with India.

It was discovered during its license renewal process that Verizon had shareholders from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Hong Kong. However, the shareholding from entities in these countries was less than one percent of the company.

Due to this, the Indian government advised Verizon to to apply through the government approval route for license renewal. The Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT) decided to amend the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy in 2020 due to the Verizon case.

After the developments with Verizon, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is seeking the opinion of the DPIIT if it should consider Starlink’s application or not, leading to the delay, the report said. It was earlier being speculated that Starlink will get its approval to operate in India by the end of January 2024.

Starlink’s prime competition in India is set to be Eutelsat OneWeb and Reliance Jio’s satcom venture, which have already got the required licenses to operate in India. Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos’s Project Kuiper is also seeking its permits from the Indian government.

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