Bangalore (AFP) May 9, 2000 - India has opened the door for private firms to own and operate communication satellite systems and offered the local INSAT system for commercial use by private agencies.
According to a communique issued Tuesday by the Department of Space (DOS) in the southern city of Bangalore, the government has approved the allocation of INSAT systems to non-government users, and the registration of satellite systems by private companies.
The DOS will administer satellite systems in India and will allocate transponders on board the INSAT satellites to private companies.
Private companies with foreign ownership of less than 74 per cent will be allowed to own and operate satellite systems, according to the new guidelines.
INSAT is one of the largest domestic satellite communications systems in the world, comprising five satellites.
The latest, INSAT 3B, was launched on March 22.
Four more satellites in the INSAT-3 series have been approved by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which has its headquarters in Bangalore.
"This new policy provides the mechanism for investments by the private sector in the field of communication satellites," said INSAT programme director S. Rangarajan.
"It also enables ISRO to earn income from these projects because we are going to offer to build and launch communication satellites.
"We know that the demand for these satellites is large," Rangarajan said.
The policy also allows "in special circumstances" the use of foreign satellites for communication services in India.
"The DOS will be very selective in this regard, and permit companies which require facilities like global mobile communications, to use foreign satellites," Rangarajan said.
"This is because we don't want these companies to wait till we have built satellites with such advanced features."
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