I am delighted to inaugurate the second VSAT and Internet service provider meeting and seminar. It is only logical to have a greater convergence between VSP and ISP and it is heartening to see the associations of two important service providers of the country, joining hands in conducting this important seminar. The seminar assumes greater importance because it is being conducted at Bangalore, the hub centre for satellite activities as well as being the Silicon city of the world.

If today SATCOM plays a crucial role in global telecom infrastructure it is mainly due to the fantastic advancement of technology in VSATs with its ubiquitous reach. Our recent progress has been spectacular and our future is limitless. The VSAT industry in India is all set to become the workhorse technology of the telecom revolution.

Besides conventional applications Department of Space, in conjunction with different State Governments, has taken various social development activities like distance education, tele-medicine, e-governance using VSAT based networks as they give an easy access for remote and difficult terrains.

Sometime time ago it was thought that VSATs will be preferred only in difficult terrains where terrestrial lines are difficult to install. But it is also known that 50% of the total VSAT population is in US which boasts of world best terrestrial communications. VSAT based network have penetrated into a variety of institution like banks, financial institutions, stock exchanges, credit card companies, manufacturing and infrastructure companies. A similar trend is seen in India too. Corporate offices across the country resort to VSAT based solutions as they provide enterprise wide networking with high reliability with a feasibility to set up additional communication links at a short notice.

Internet usage in the country is also set for a spectacular growth. In the case of ISPs scalability and affordability are rather important. Satellite with its multicasting capability can provide access to information in every village of our country. This would become economically viable if the costs of VSATs further come down. Satellite technologies with their inherent strength in allowing a broad band application and also thin route traffics in the same network will be a boon for IT services. It is predicted that satellite based broadband solution will capture 30% of the market share in broadband technologies.

With increasing demand for bandwidth there were apprehensions in some quarters that satellite technology will become obsolete. In fact the IT revolution has brought about a greater demand for satellite transponders. It is heartening to see that all the transponders of INSAT-3B launched earlier this year has been completely allotted, both in extended C band and Ku band. We plan to add more than 50 transponders next year with the planned launch of INSAT-3C & INSAT -3A. The infrastructure built within this country over the last 25 years is now geared up for producing 2 world-class communications satellites every year and these satellites could be tailor-made for the user requirements.

As with Moore’s law in the computing industry, technical improvements to satellite and related ground systems are doubling power and efficiency in every two to three years. From the first generation bought-out satellites, ISRO has come a long way when a major part of the capacity of INSAT-2E was taken by INTELSAT last year on a long-term lease. Future satellites will provide various features like on-board processing, onboard switching, spot beam technology and usage of higher frequency bands.

There is also an equal amount of dynamism in the usage of INSAT system in this country. The recently announced SatCom Policy envisages a greater and greater role for private sector to participate in this crucial infrastructure sector. It not only identifies the use of INSAT for the private sector but also allows the possibility of private Indian satellites. Department of Space will take into account the space segment requirements of the private sector in defining future INSATs. We obviously expect a firm financial commitment to back up the demands. If the required capacity is not available in the time scale specified by the user it is possible to lease the capacity as an interim measure with funding from the user. Such a scheme, I believe, would lead to a structured growth of this nascent industry, maximally utilise the indigenous capabilities and meet the user demands maximally.

DOS has always welcomed user inputs and this seminar, I am sure, will provide the right background for our long term planning. These inputs can also lead to a better definition of the interface between the space and ground segments and hence help in utilising the system optimally. We shall evolve mechanisms by which the user inputs would be available to the system planner on a regular and formal basis.

In the recent past several measures have been taken by Government of India as part of policy initiatives and rationalisation of regulatory mechanisms. Allowing Ku band operation for VSAT industry in an important step in this direction. TRAI has also given recommendations to help accelerate the growth of VSATs in this country. India is one of the first countries to enact cyber laws.

At this juncture it is important to realise that with the tremendous growth in the number of terminals accessing the satellite it is imperative to comply strictly with the required specifications. Every user has this responsibility for the network and the system to work smoothly.

Let us strive together for building the nations economy and realise the dream of making India the leading player in this region for building space segment as well as SatCom based services. I recall the words of Dr. Vikram Sarabai

“If we are to play a meaningful role nationally and in the comity of nations we must be second to none in the application of Space technologies to the real problems of men and society”

I wish again the seminar a grand success and thank the organizers for giving me the opportunity to inaugurate this seminar.