India halts SpaceX’s Starlink plans, waits for license issuance

India has asked Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, to stop “booking/rendering” satellite internet services for its Starlink project until obtaining a license to carry out plans in the country, according to Reuters.

SpaceX’s division registered in India as a business on November 1st and had already launched its pre-orders process, despite not getting the Indian government’s permission to initiate services. Earlier that month, the branch revealed plans to ship 200,000 dishes for the project to 12 Indian territories by the end of December 2022.

“Accordingly, the Government of India has asked the company to comply with Indian regulatory framework for rendering the satellite-based communication services and refrain from booking/ rendering the satellite internet services in India with immediate effect,” India’s Department of Telecommunications (DOT) said on Twitter.

India is considered a strong market for SpaceX’s project, given the country, has a massive rural population, reaching an estimate of more than 898 million, according to the World Bank Data. The aerospace firm is hoping to satisfy India’s market needs for satellite broadband, with its team aiming to reach 80 percent of sold devices by the end of 2022 to be exclusively deployed in rural areas.

Starlink Country Director for India, Sanjay Bhargava, stated the company is already accepted more than 5,000 pre-orders since its emergence in the country. However, will these plans be halted by the government, given that the DOT has imposed restrictions on Starklink’s rollout?

In parallel, Indian authorities have also asked interested customers to refrain from registering for Starlink’s services until all technical matters are resolved.

One thing is clear, the Indian government is far from reciprocating the same eagerness as SpaceX’s, and chances are we will witness some alteration in the company’s course of action in the upcoming months, if not weeks.