‘India SatCom 2020’, the 6th edition of Broadband India Forum’s (BIF) annual flagship event commenced yesterday. Recognised as the largest and most comprehensive conference for satellite communications in the country, the theme for India SatCom 2020 is ‘Satellite Broadband – The New Frontier’ and the Conference is being held over a virtual platform on November 24 and November 25 2020.

The inaugural session included Dr. K Sivan, Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman – ISRO as Chief Guest, with K Ramchand, Member (T), Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and G Narayanan, CMD, New Space India Ltd. (NSIL) who were the Special Guests of Honour. Gita Krishnankutty, Regional Head – Inward Investment, South India, Department for International Trade – The British High Commission and industry stalwarts also attended the session along with senior government dignitaries from NITI Aayog, TRAI, DoT, DoS, ISRO, NSIL, TEC, as well as other leading government stakeholders.

The Chief Guest for the occasion, Dr. K Sivan, Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman – ISRO, conveyed via a written message: “I wish to thank the organisers Broadband India Forum for their efforts in bringing various stakeholders in the satellite communication ecosystem together to discuss and deliberate how satellite communication can deliver ubiquitous internet service to the masses in a cost effective manner and in keeping with the national mission of AtmaNirbharta by giving high importance to our indigenous initiatives while utilising the latest technologies and also collaborating with the technology leaders in a partnership or collaborative manner to utilise the best technologies and practices. This will provide a platform to discuss various aspects of the technologies, applications and implementation. I’m sure the participants will deliberate on the new trends in satcom technology, seamless integration with terrestrial technologies, rollout plans and finally reaching all the benefits to the citizens. The people living in unserved and under-served places should get access to these technologies in order to ensure inclusive growth.”

Multiple studies have shown how the Indian Government’s ‘Digital India’ and ‘Broadband for All’ initiatives can benefit from satellite broadband. India, with its many remote, unconnected and difficult-to-access terrains, coupled with an extremely low penetration of fixed line and fiber infrastructure, needs satellite broadband for inclusive and widespread digital connectivity. Remote, unconnected areas that struggle with basic needs such as electricity, are prime candidates for satellite intervention, apart from mountainous and other inhospitable terrains where satellite broadband scores over its terrestrial counterparts in terms of techno-economic feasibility. The recent path- breaking advancements in satellite technology, could deliver a large amount of bandwidth to a smaller geographical area (via High Throughput Satellites), or deliver wider coverage with low latencies (via LEO/MEO constellations). These new technologies and innovations will help make broadband more affordable, available pan-India and accessible to public agencies, industries and citizens at large. Satcom can also help augment new technologies and applications for a variety of services, including disaster/emergency relief and control, besides playing a complementing role in providing the backhaul infrastructure for next generation networks.

Meanwhile, TV Ramachandran, President, BIF, shared on the occasion, “The Government’s progressive announcement of liberalisation of the space sector promises opportunities to bring in new technology and solutions, along with investments and employment opportunities. This would facilitate a number of benefits, including provisioning of broadband to the unserved and underserved in a faster and efficient manner. This becomes all the more relevant in today’s scenario, when the Covid19 pandemic has necessitated Work-from- Anywhere to be the new norm, and requires ubiquitous broadband connectivity across the country’s diverse landscape to facilitate the same.”

BIF’s foremost objective is to help facilitate proliferation of broadband connectivity to all, in a technology agnostic manner. Satellite Communications has immense potential for true Broadband applications and as a medium for providing broadband services, especially in difficult to reach areas. India SatCom, over the years, has provided a platform to bring together all stakeholders of the satcom ecosystem to discuss the latest technology enhancements that may be leveraged to tap the true potential of satellite communications. BIF believes India must gainfully exploit the spare satellite capacities over the visible Indian arc, besides further capacity building and innovations via private sector participation.