Approvals For Setting Up an Indian Satellite System and Provision of Satellite Service in India

Approvals, Registrations and Authorizations Required for Setting up an Indian Satellite System and Provision of Satellite Services by Satellite Operators in India

In my previous articles on provision of satellite services in India, we analyzed the regulatory framework and the possible entry options available to foreign satellite operators to establish its business presence in India and provide satellite services in the Indian subcontinent. One of the entry option is setting up an Indian Satellite System (“ISS”) by the foreign satellite operator for providing satellite based services on a commercial basis in India and be eligible for all the preferential treatment accorded to such systems in service provisioning in India. For the purposes of establishing an ISS, the foreign satellite operator and/or domestic Indian company, as the case may be, (“Satellite Company”) would need to obtain various approvals and registrations with the Indian regulatory authorities.

Incorporation of the Indian Company

For the purposes of setting up of an ISS, Satellite Company would need to incorporate a company (“Newco”) under Indian laws. Under the Companies Act, 1956 of India, a company limited by shares may be incorporated either as a private company or as a public company. Under tax and other statutes and regulations, private and public companies are ordinarily treated similarly. Therefore, Satellite Company may consider incorporating Newco as a private company.

Registration with CAISS

In the year 1997-1998, the Government of India (“GoI”) announced the Satellite Communication Policy Framework (“SatCom Policy”) and formulated the norms, guidelines, and procedure for registration of Indian satellite systems by private Indian companies and allowed limited use of foreign satellites (i.e., uplink from India) in special circumstances provided the satellites were coordinated with the INSAT satellites. Pursuant to the SatCom Policy, the GoI authorized Indian Space Research Organization (“ISRO”) to set up a Committee for Authorizing the establishment and operation of Indian Satellite Systems (“CAISS”), with its Secretariat at the Satellite Communication Programs Office at ISRO Headquarters at Bangalore.

For the purposes of registration with CAISS, Newco would need to submit a detailed project proposal to CAISS stating details of its project including the aims, objectives and background of Newco including its equity structure; the satellite proposed to be launched or leased, spacecraft description, manufacturing and launch details of the satellite, capabilities of all payloads and system, network description and characteristics, orbit spectrum requirements, spacecraft launch vehicle; data and location of satellite launches proposed by Newco, etc.

The Satellite Coordination Programme Office, which serves as the Secretariat of CAISS, reviews and examines the application in light of the SatCom Policy and the norms and guidelines and procedures approved by the GoI. The Secretariat will, thereafter, put up the application for CAISS’ consideration.

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