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Apple’s satcom partner GlobalStar seeks approval from dept of telecom to provide SOS services: Report

If approved, Apple could begin providing its emergency services in India.

GlobalStar Inc, the satellite company that provides emergency SOS services for Apple devices has approached the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to gain approval for providing its services in India, Hindu Business Line reported. If the company gets the proper approvals, Apple could begin providing its emergency services in India. This isn’t the first time an international firm has attempted to enter India’s satellite communication market. Others like Bharti-Airtel-backed OneWeb, Space X’s Starlink, and Amazon’s Project Kuiper are all at different stages of obtaining their satcom licenses. OneWeb has emerged as the first company to get all its approvals in order.

The process of providing satcom services in India has become easier with the Telecommunication Act, 2023 accommodating industry requests for administrative allocation of satellite spectrum. Amazon, in its response to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) consultation aimed at assessing demand for space-based communication services, said that administrative allocation of spectrum would facilitate the entry of new players into the satellite communication market. With companies no longer having to outbid each other, consumers would be able to access satcom services at affordable prices, it explained.

Will satcom be affordable to the Indian public?

While Amazon spoke about how administrative allocation would bring down satcom prices, accessing satellite communication services would still prove to be very expensive for the Indian customer. According to an ET report from 2021, Starlink’s broadband from-space service was estimated to cost around Rs 1.58 lakh per user terminal in the first year of rollout and around Rs 1.15 lakh from the second year onwards. Further, device compatibility would also be an issue when considering the cost of satcom services with most satellite mobile phones costing anywhere between $400 and $1,000.

With GlobalStar the situation would be different because its services come paired with the Apple smartphone. iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 15, and iPhone 15 Pro all come with built-in emergency satellite SOS service, which means that people could avail of satcom services without having a separate device to do so. While GlobalStar’s only worked with Apple to provide emergency services so far, they could potentially expand and begin providing satellite services as an alternative to traditional communication services, especially in remote and underserved areas.

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