IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


11th October, 2023 Economy

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Picture Courtesy: www.moneycontrol.com

Context: The satellite spectrum row between SpaceX, Reliance Jio, and other players in the space-based communication market has reached a stalemate in India.

Key Highlights

  • The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has become involved in the dispute over satellite spectrum allocation methods. The PMO is meeting with experts to gain a better understanding of the complexities surrounding this issue.
    • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is expected to provide recommendations on satellite spectrum allocation. However, it appears that TRAI may be waiting for the PMO's opinion before releasing its recommendations.
  • SpaceX aims to offer satellite-based internet services in remote areas of India. Other companies like OneWeb, and Telesat are also looking to offer similar services using low earth orbit satellite constellations.
  • The international standard for allocating satellite spectrum recommends administrative assignment. However, the Indian government is considering the possibility of auctioning the spectrum, which is supported by Reliance Jio. This is a novel approach and goes against the recommendations of the International Telecommunication Union.
  • There has been a prolonged stalemate in this dispute. It has been going on for over two years since the entry of companies like OneWeb, Telesat, and SpaceX into India's space-based communication services market. While these companies favour administrative assignment, Reliance Jio has consistently advocated for the auction method.
    • Reliance Jio has cited a 2012 Supreme Court judgment related to the 2G scandal, arguing that spectrum should be exclusively allocated through auctions. This legal argument has added to the complexity of the dispute.

Spectrum Allocation

Spectrum allocation is the process of dividing the radio frequency spectrum into different frequency bands and assigning them to different users and services. The spectrum is a limited resource, and spectrum allocation is necessary to ensure that users do not interfere with each other.

Spectrum allocation in India is governed by the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP), which is prepared and published by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The NFAP allocates the spectrum to various services, such as mobile communication, broadcast television, and satellite communication.

The DoT allocates spectrum to different users through a variety of methods, including auctions, lotteries, and administrative assignments. Auctions are the most common method used to allocate spectrum in India. In an auction, the spectrum is awarded to the bidder who offers the highest price.

Lotteries are another method used to allocate spectrum in India. In a lottery, the spectrum is awarded to the winners of a random draw. Administrative assignment is the least common method used to allocate spectrum in India. In administrative assignments, the DoT awards spectrum to users based on their needs and priorities.


  • This dispute has significant implications for the development of satellite-based communication services in India and could set a unique precedent for spectrum allocation in the satellite communication industry. The involvement of the PMO suggests that the government is taking this matter seriously and aims to find a balanced and effective solution.

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5G SPECTRUM: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/5g-spectrum


Q. What are the key challenges faced by telecommunications regulatory authorities in ensuring equitable spectrum allocation and promoting innovation while addressing the increasing demand for high-speed internet, mobile connectivity, and emerging technologies like 5G and IoT?