6G will see convergence of terrestrial and satellite communication networks: DoT Secy

The 6G broadband technology will ring in convergence of the currently used terrestrial and satellite communication networks for the first time and also change the way people interact with machines in future, a scenario that’s likely to unlock greater opportunities and further help bridge India’s digital divide, K. Rajaraman, secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said

He, though, cautioned that all stakeholders needed to proceed with care amid national efforts to rapidly drive digital and financial inclusion by ensuring that deployment of new technologies does not result in further excluding people already outside the country’s digital grid.

“Individual tech platforms can offer promising applications, but convergence of tech networks that 6G is expected to bring in by merging terrestrial and satcom networks, along with a paradigm shift in machine-human interactions will break greater opportunities and offer more options,” Rajaraman said at the Infinity Forum industry event Friday.

He added that “the combined power of space and terrestrial technologies would propel countrywide mobile and broadband connectivity,” which in turn, would enable the gamut of digital services to reach across the country’s remote locations.

The telecom secretary, however, said new technologies were a mixed bag and called on policy makers, industry and regulators to exercise “great care in ensuring that deployment of new tech does not leave India’s already digitally-excluded citizens further behind. “New technologies can tilt the scales in favour of those with computing and financial power, which is both a challenge and an opportunity.”

In the immediate term, Rajaraman said “5G is the next tech frontier” likely to pave the way for powerful use cases that could lead to proliferation of

solutions, and also drive local manufacturing of 5G systems/products with 5G rollouts likely in 2022, post-auctions around April-May next year.

Amid new stirrings in the emerging broadband from-space segment, the telecom secretary reiterated that a DoT taskforce is exploring ways to ring in ease of doing business in the satcoms space by clearing space tech investment proposals expeditiously.

Last month, Rajaraman had said DoT would soon examine the recommendations of an internal task force constituted to formulate a roadmap for creating a superior satellite communications ecosystem in India.

“Low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations offer exciting opportunities to boost broadband coverage and inclusive growth in rural and remote areas, and the space sector can play a pivotal role in delivering affordable and accessible financial products to customers in the low income group living in remote regions,” said Rajaraman.

The DoT secretary’s comments come at a time when Bharti-backed OneWeb, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Amazon’s Project Kuiper and the Tata-Telesat combine are readying to enter India’s relatively nascent fast broadband-from-space segment, leveraging their respective LEO satellite constellations.

India is seen as a key satellite internet market with a near-term $1 billion-plus annual revenue opportunity as 75% of rural India does not have access to broadband and many locations are still without cellular or fibre connectivity.


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