SpaceX in talks with South Africa’s Communications Authority over Starlink

The Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has said it is having discussions with SpaceX regarding its satellite-based internet service Starlink.

Starlink was launched in 2015. It is a satellite internet constellation, which will consist of thousands of small satellites. Of the 1,029 small satellites launched last year, Starlink accounted for 773. And it plans to deploy about 4,425 into the orbit by 2024.

On Tuesday, Starlink opened up for pre-orders. “Starlink is now delivering initial beta service both domestically and internationally and will continue expansion to near-global coverage of the populated world in 2021”, it said.

During the beta phase, users can expect to have high-speed and low latency broadband internet. In most locations, over the next several months, “as we enhance the Starlink system, data speeds [can] vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all”.

Anyone interested in signing up will have to put down a deposit of US$99 to be among those that will serve first when it goes live. It is expected to be available in Lagos, Nigeria, later this year and next year in South Africa.

To operate provide its satellite-based internet service in South Africa, SpaceX will need to acquire an Individual Electronic Communications Network Service (I-ECNS) and Individual Electronics Communications Service license, MyBroadband reported.

Although it has not yet applied for these licences, it has spoken to ICASA on the matter. “ICASA had a brief meeting with SpaceX about the regulatory requirements last week. A further meeting will be held in due course on the same matter”, the Authority stated.