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Satnews Daily
January 3rd, 2019

The Indian Department of Telecom Interested in LEO / MEO Satellites for Better Comms

The Indian Department of Telecom (DoT) has plans to establish a network of telecom satellites — the telecom ministry will sponsor LEO and MEO satellites for better communication purposes across the nation.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has already launched 35 communications satellites to date, of which four satellites — GSAT-6A, GSAT-29, GSAT-11 and GSAT-7A were launched in 2018. These satellites selectively provide connectivity to different institutions and business organizations. Their services are also used for satellite phone connectivity, mobile services in islands and hilly areas, and VSAT services, among others. All of the GSAT satellite are GEO satellites located at distance of 36,000 kilometers, which results in a time lag between transmission and reception of signals.

Hughes India, one of the applicants for in-flight and maritime (IFMC) mobile services, has said that the satellite bandwidth cost provided by the Department of Space are expensive and can play a spoiler in uptake of IFMC services, as these would make the facility costlier by 3050 times at Rs 700-1,000 for a two-hour journey.

According to sources, the expenses will be borne by the telecom ministry. Discussion in this regard has already started with the nation's Department of Space.

In the case of voice calls made using GEO satellite connection, callers get to hear voice after lag of 20 milliseconds. An official stated that latency in data signal is not good for mission critical applications or a voice cal. People are required to wait to listen for a sentence from the person on the other side of the call. LEO satellites will be placed in orbit at distance of around 2,000 kilometers and they will reduce signal latency.

The official added that the capacity on satellites can be used by telecom operators for various kind of services, especially in remote areas and places where it is difficult to build network. The plan is to have 100 percent connectivity across the country. The proposed satellite will be owned by DoT and bandwidth rates are expected to be reduced. Operators can also use these satellites for in-flight and maritime mobile services, with the initial focus to bring 100 percent coverage in rural areas.