Billionaire Elon Musk’s Satellite internet venture Starlink has started to send out emails to its potential customers who had pre-booked the service by paying a fully refundable deposit, that it is offering them a complete refund of the $100 (Rs 7400) paid by them as per the directive issued to it by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) since it has yet to receive the license and regulatory approvals to operate in India.
The reason provided by Starlink in the email is that the timeline for receiving licences to operate in India is “currently unknown” and that there are “several issues” that must be resolved within the licensing framework to allow the company to operate Starlink in India. The company was previously believed to be working on launching its services in India in ten rural Lok Sabha constituencies. India was considered one of its key markets.
Back in December, Starlink Country Director Sanjay Bhargava stated that the company hoped to apply for a commercial licence on or before January 31. A presentation by Bhargava reportedly stated that the company aimed to have 200,000 Starlink devices in India by December 2022, if it could roll out services in the country by April. Starlink is said to have received over 5,000 pre-orders for its satellite Internet service in India, but the company had recently stopped taking pre-orders pending regulatory approval.
Starlink is one of a growing number of companies launching small satellites as part of a low-Earth orbit network to provide low-latency broadband internet services around the world, with a particular focus on remote areas like mountainous terrains or islands where terrestrial internet infrastructure struggles to reach. Bharti backed OneWeb had last week launched 36 new LEO satellites from Kazakstan taking its fleet to 394 out of the total planned 648 and the company plans on launching commercial services later this year.