India has told Starlink, which has not yet obtained a license, to refund customers and avoid new orders.
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet company told its members that the Indian government has asked the company to return all pre-orders until it obtains a license to operate in the country.
“As always, you can receive a refund at any time,” the company said in an email to a customer. Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing copies of emails it saw.
Starlink, a division of Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company, has received more than 5,000 pre-orders for equipment in India, but is working hard to obtain a commercial license, otherwise it will not be able to provide services in the country.
The company said in an email: “Unfortunately, the timetable for obtaining the operating license is unclear. Several issues must be resolved through the licensing framework before we can operate Starlink in India.”
“The Starlink team looks forward to launching Starlink in India as soon as possible,” it said.
Starlink is one of a growing number of companies that launch small satellites as part of a low-earth orbit network to provide low-latency broadband Internet services around the world, with special attention to remote areas that are difficult to reach by terrestrial Internet infrastructure. SpaceX told investors that Starlink is competing for a $1 trillion market consisting of in-flight Internet, maritime services, Chinese and Indian needs, and rural customers.
But the Indian government advised people not to subscribe to Starlink without a license, and ordered the company not to accept reservations and provide services.
Starlink plans to apply for a commercial license in India by the end of January, and its country chief, Sanjay Bhargava, said in a social media post last month that a presentation showed that with the launch in April, It will target 200,000 devices in India by December 2022.
However, in LinkedIn posts On Tuesday, Bhargava said that due to “personal reasons”, he had resigned from his posts as national director and chairman of the board of directors. According to his personal information on the platform, he took office in October.
In India, Starlink had planned “Developing telecommunications services”, including satellite broadband Internet services, content storage and streaming media, multimedia communications, etc. It is also designed to handle equipment such as satellite phones, network equipment, wired and wireless communication equipment, and data transmission and reception equipment.
According to a company profile shared by Bhargava on LinkedIn over the weekend, the company also stated that it will focus on “promoting rural development in India” through its broadband service.
Once approved to provide services, the company plans to provide 100 free devices to schools in Delhi and nearby rural areas in the first phase, and then to 12 rural areas in India.
Starlink’s competitors include Amazon.com’s Kuiper and OneWeb-a failed satellite operator rescued by the British government and India’s Bharti Group.