Starlink, the satellite internet provider owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, has not yet applied for the necessary licenses to operate in South Africa despite the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) stating that there have been two meetings between itself and SpaceX, where the company sought guidance on the regulatory requirements and process for acquiring the necessary operating licenses.
According to reports, the authority has stated that Starlink can only penetrate the market after acquiring an individual electronic communications network service license, an individual electronics communications service license, and the appropriate radio spectrum license.
An interesting requirement also listed is that applicants must “have a minimum 30% equity ownership held by persons from historically disadvantaged groups, which includes black people, women, youth, and people with disabilities.”
However, that hasn’t stopped some South Africans from accessing the company’s services.
Starlink is able to provide coverage even in areas where it is not licensed to operate, as long as users have a Starlink kit that includes an antenna and router. Without the necessary licenses, Starlink cannot provide kits and services directly to South Africans.
Despite not being available in the country, South Africans have been able to access Starlink. One way is to use a roaming package that the company launched earlier this year. This package allows customers to subscribe to a country where Starlink is officially available like Kenya and Nigeria and to access its services wherever the network is available.
Another way to access Starlink in South Africa is through a third-party service provider. For example, IT Lec, an internet service provider in the Northern Cape, is acting as a third party that imports and manages Starlink subscriptions on behalf of South Africans.
Starlink is eager to begin operating in South Africa, but it is still waiting for regulatory approval. The company says that it is hopeful that it will be able to resolve the issues and start service in South Africa soon.