The satellite phone sector is open for all. Any entity can start operations in the country. The service provider will be required to set up a satellite phone gateway in India, so that security agencies can lawfully intercept calls on its network whenever required. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has provisioned for satellite phone service under Unified License called Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS) Service. The permit for GMPCS is given to firms after security clearance of the proposal by an interministerial committee.
After the issuance of guidelines for satellite phone services license in the year 2001, the DoT had received a number of proposals from various satellite operators, including INMARSAT, Iridium, Thuraya, and Globalstar, for grant of GMPCS license. However, no private satellite phone service provider had applied for a permit because of regulatory requirement and absence of subscriber base for the service. There are only around 4000 active satellite phone connections in the country. TRAI in a recommendation earlier had identified high call rate, around USD 1 per minute, as one of the barriers in satellite phone services in the country. The government has asked BSNL to provide satellite phone service on request of the defense ministry. BSNL has set up a gateway for satellite phone service in partnership with INMARSAT at a cost of around 83 crore.