Starlink India head steps down after government order

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Sanjay Bhargava, the head of Starlink India, has stepped down from his role weeks after the Indian government ordered the company to stop taking orders for the devices as it doesn’t have the license to operate in the South Asian market.

In a LinkedIn post, Bhargava said he was leaving the firm for “personal reasons.” His departure comes just three months after he took the job as Country Director and Chairman of the Board of Starlink India. Earlier today, Starlink India told customers that it will be issuing refunds to those who had pre-ordered the device.

Elon Musk, SpaceX chief executive, welcomed Bhargava, a former PayPal executive, to Starlink India and tweeted that he “deserved a lot of credit for making X/PayPal succeed.”

A SpaceX spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Starlink, which has shipped over 100,000 terminals to customers, has big ambitions for India. Bhargava said last year the company had plans to deploy over 200,000 active terminals in over 160,000 districts in India by the end of December 2022.

The firm began taking pre-orders for Starlink terminals in the country last year and over 5,000 people had signed up. The firm was working with influential think tank Niti Aayog to identify districts in India to conduct trials for the device.

In late November, the Indian government ordered Starlink to stop “booking/rendering the satellite internet service” in the country without first obtaining the license. In its email to customers on Tuesday, Starlink said it had no clarity on the “timeline for receiving licenses to operate” in the country.