Elon Musk’s internet-from-space service Starlink refunds pre-booking amount to Indian subscribers after hitting DoT wall  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
Starlink Internet Services, the broadband internet arm of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, initiated refunds to those in India who placed pre-orders for the internet connections. Starlink had collected $99 or Rs 7,400 from customers who placed advanced orders for the service.
The company in an email said it was directed by the Department of Telecom (DoT) to refund money collected from pre-orders until it is issued a licence to operate in the country.
“We have been directed by India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to refund pre-orders until we are licensed,” the email from Starlink to Indian customers said.
Musk in an earlier response to a Twitter user said that Starlink was figuring the regulatory process in the country before launching the service. The company had plans to launch services 10 Lok Sabha constituencies and India figured as a key market in its growth plans.
In its email, the broadband internet company said the timeline for receiving regulatory approvals in India remains “currently unknown” as there are “several issues” that need to be resolved before it could launch the service in the country.
Starlink internet estimated price in India
The premium broadband-from-space service was estimated to cost consumers around Rs 1.58 lakh (including local taxes and levies) in India per user terminal in the first year, and around Rs 1.15 lakh from the second year onwards.
The company’s Rs 1.58 lakh first-year cost estimate of a Starlink terminal in India includes $499 (Rs 37,400) towards user equipment, a monthly $99 service fee (Rs 7,425 approx) payable over a year and local taxes/levies at 30%.
The company stopped accepting pre-orders earlier after the DoT asked citizens not to subscribe to the service, stating it was yet to receive regulatory approvals from the government.
The public advisory issued by the government said Starlink was barred from offering any such services in the country. The DoT has also asked the company to comply with the regulatory framework for offering the service in India and stop booking or rendering the internet service in India “with immediate effect”.
“The Department of Telecommunications Ministry of Communications, Government of India has pointed out that Starlink Internet Services is not licensed to offer satellite-based internet services in India being advertised to the public… the government, (accordingly), has asked the company to comply with the Indian regulatory framework for rendering satellite-based communication services and refrain from booking/ rendering such services in India with immediate effect,” said Ministry of Communications in a statement issued in November.