The ministry of commerce and industry has approved the proposed investment by Alcatel Spacecom S.A and Arianespace S.A in the Agrani satellite project. The approval clears the decks for investments worth $20 million, the first foreign investment in an Indian satellite venture.
ASC Enterprises Ltd (Ascel)-promoted Agrani Satellite Services Ltd (ASSL) is the first such venture to be notified by the government as per the newly-formed SatCom policy.
French satellite major Alcatel will be picking up a 9.5-per cent stake for $15 million and Arianespace, the global satellite launch service provider, will pick up 3.25 per cent stake for $5 million in ASSL.
According to industry sources, another European satellite major may pick up around 26 per cent stake in the Agrani satellite project.
ASSL -- the first private Indian satellite system to be authorised under the 1997 SatCom policy -- will deploy a long-life satellite on a fast-track basis with 24C band and 14Ku band high-power transponders having an aggregate wide-area coverage useable bandwidth of 104 MHz.
These transponders will support a broad range of applications, including cable and direct-to-home TV services, remote area communications, V-SAT networks, Internet backbone bandwidth (domestic as well as international), direct access and international connectivity.
According to industry sources, transponder demand is estimated to increase to about 316 by 2004. This is largely due to projected growth in telephone network (52 million lines), Internet subscriber base (18 million), cable TV and DTH broadcasting services, V-SAT terminals (50,000) and education/training networks (28 channels).
The latest submissions by ASSL to the government were made under an overall umbrella approval of up to 74 per cent FDI approved by the FIPB and other clearances from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs early this year.