An agreement between the U.S. and India that permits the deployment of civil or non-commercial satellites containing U.S International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)-controlled components on Indian launch vehicles is being praised by commercial satellite executives who believe the accord may represent a first step in the opening of India’s currently-restrictive satellite services market to U.S. and other foreign providers. Signed last week, the agreement also stipulates that the launch of hybrid commercial satellites that contain non-commercial payloads with ITAR components would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Although government agencies such as NASA and NOAA are viewed as the most likely immediate beneficiaries of the pact, the U.S. and India are reportedly engaged in further discussions that could lead to a commercial launch agreement. That prospect was applauded by Intelsat deputy general counsel Kalpak Gude, who observed, “we are in favor of broadening the availability of launch providers, and this agreement puts us on the path to get there.” As Boeing Space vice president Jim Simpson described the pact as “a potential opening to a low-cost system to help enhance U.S. satellite competitiveness,” a spokesman for SES expressed support for “any effort by the U.S. to increase the availability of launch vehicles for both government and commercial payloads,” as he added that the U.S. “has similar agreements with Ukraine and Russia which are of benefit to us when we contract to launch with ILS or Sea Launch.” An official for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, meanwhile, termed the pact as “a first step to engaging the Indian government directly on their practices regarding commercial launch and satellite services” that, among other things, require Indian telecom operators to contract with one domestic company for scarce satellite capacity. Calling such restrictions “out of step with practices in almost every major economy of the world,” former U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Karan Bhatia commented in a speech several years ago that “allowing direct access to foreign satellite capacity would enable Indian service suppliers to obtain the satellite capacity they need to provide solutions to meet the growing domestic communications needs of Indian industry.”