Government Orders Starlink, Backed By Musk, To Refund Pre-Orders In India

Members of the Starlink satellite internet venture, which is backed by the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, were informed by the company that it had been directed by the Indian government to refund all its pre-orders from the country till such time that a license to operate in the country is granted to it. ,

“As has always been the case, you can receive a refund at any time,” the company said in an email to one of its customers which has also been seen by the media.

Starlink is a unit of the SpaceX aerospace company which was founded by Musk. In recent times, more than 5,000 pre-orders have been received by Starlink in India. The company however has found it difficult to get commercial licenses for operating in India and it cannot offer its services in the country without such licenses,

“Unfortunately, the timeline for receiving licenses to operate is currently unknown, and there are several issues that must be resolved with the licensing framework to allow us to operate Starlink in India,” the company said in the email.

“The Starlink team is looking forward to making Starlink available in India as soon as possible,” the company said.

A growing number of companies around the world, including Starlink, are offering internet services through satellites as part of a low-Earth orbit network. These networks are able to provide low-latency broadband internet services all across the world. These companies, including Starlink, have a focus on making broadband internet available to remote areas where terrestrial internet infrastructure finds it very difficult to reach out to.

However Indian subscribers have been advised by the government against subscribing to Starlink till such time that the company receives a license while also ordering the company to not take in pre-bookings and not to offer its services till getting a license to operate in the country.

According to the company’s country head Sanjay Bhargava’s social media post last month, Starlinks is getting ready to apply for a license to operate in India by the end of January. And reports quoted a presentation of the company which showed that the company was targeting to roll out 200,000 devices in India by December 2022 with a launch in April this year.

But in a  LinkedIn post on Tuesday, Bhargava said that he had resigned from the position of country director and board chairman due to “personal reasons”. According to his profile on the platform, he had taken up the role in October.

Amazon.com’s Kuiper and OneWeb – a collapsed satellite operator rescued by the British government and India’s Bharti Group are among the rivals of Starrlink in India.
(Adapted from TechCrunch.com)

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