South Africa bans Starlink for lack of local content


South Africa’s ICT regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has asked IT Lec, a local Internet service provider (ISP), to stop importing Starlink kits.

The regulator also wants IT Lec to cut off existing Starlink users in South Africa from the satellite internet service.

Starlink needs the Individual Electronic Communications Service (IECS) licence and Individual Electronic Communications Network Service (IECNS) licence to operate as an internet service in the country. But according to the regulating bodies, Starlink has not applied for the licenses yet.

There’s a clause in South Africa’s law that demands all telecom operators applying for these licenses should have at least 30% ownership in the hands of persons from historically disadvantaged groups such as black people, youth, women, and people with disabilities. Starlink is missing that essential 30% equity puzzle piece.

Starlink’s cosmic web stretches across the globe and is available anywhere unless Starlink specifically barred the service in a designated area. Starlink has not barred South Africa, so people there can still access its network.

However, they cannot order the kit or pay the monthly subscription fees directly from the website. This is why thousands of people living in rural areas and sparsely populated areas in South Africa are ordering through third parties like IT Lec which imports Starlink kits on their behalf and also manages their accounts with Starlink.

Per MyBroadband, IT Lec has announced its plan to relocate its operations to Mozambique, which is one of the five African countries where Starlink has already been introduced. By doing so, IT Lec aims to continue offering its services to customers in South Africa and other countries where Starlink has not yet been launched.

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