India Might Allow 100% FDI for Satellite Broadband Providers

India is considering classifying satellite broadband as a telecom service, potentially opening the doors for global players like SpaceX’s Starlink and Amazon’s Kuiper to invest 100% in the country without requiring local partners.

Recent amendments in space sector rules, though allowing only up to 74% FDI for satellite-related activities, do not specifically address satellite broadband services. Industry experts speculate that this omission could imply the automatic qualification for 100% FDI, akin to terrestrial telecom service providers.

Anirudh Rastogi from Ikigai Law suggests that satellite broadband providers focusing solely on broadband services should fall under the 100% automatic investment route.

A.K. Bhatt, director general of Indian Space Association (ISpA), anticipates clarification from relevant departments soon, hoping for a favourable ruling to attract substantial investments from global satellite broadband players.

The move is expected to boost India’s satellite communications market, projected to reach up to US$40 billion by 2033, according to Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-Space).

While satellite broadband providers have shown interest in India, delays in service launches persist due to regulatory hurdles, particularly in acquiring necessary spectrum licences.