DoT scraps key levy on satcom players

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has amended the unified licence to scrap a key levy on satellite service operators, a move likely to make broadband-from-space services more affordable in India. Satcom operators, accordingly, won’t have to pay network operation & control centre (NOCC) charges for hiring satellite transponder capacity.

“The competent authority has decided to remove NOCC charges for telecom service licensees for the use of the space segment,” the DoT said in an order dated May 6.

It added that all holders of GMPCS (global mobile personal communications by satellite services), commercial/captive VSAT and NLD permits, involved in space-based operations, would no longer be levied NOCC charges, effective April 1, 2022.

DoT’s directive is in line with the sector regulator’s call for abolishing NOCC levies back in August 2021.

Till date, satcom operators had to pay an NOCC levy, equivalent to Rs 21 lakh per transponder per annum, regardless of the frequency band of operation or nature of satellite capacity.

Satellite broadband operators welcomed DoT’s decision, saying it underlined the government’s commitment to support growth of digital communications by leveraging the capability of the satcoms industry.

“These are progressive policy steps, and we also look forward to the continued support of the Department of Space and INSPACe to make India’s space sector an attractive investment destination,” Lt Gen A K Bhatt, director general at Indian Space Association (ISpA), said.

ISpA counts top space broadband players such as Bharti-backed OneWeb, Tata group company Nelco, and US-based Hughes Network Systems among its key members. The Indian National Space Promotion & Authorisation Center (IN-SPACe), in turn, is a central regulatory body mandated to attract private capital into the space sector.

The development comes at a time when competition is set to intensify in India’s nascent broadband-from-space services segment after…


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