According to media reports, South Africa’s estimated launch date for SpaceX’s high-speed, low-latency satellite Internet service Starlink has been changed from 2023 to “unknown”.
Starlink coverage map indicates the company’s estimated launch date for Starlink in countries around the world.
BMA sources reveal that in August 2022, the map showed South Africa would get the service in 2023. However, on Wednesday, 14 September 2022, Starlink had changed the notice on the map to “Service date is unknown at this time.”
Numerous other African and Asian countries show either “Service date is unknown at this time” or “Pending regulatory approval” instead of a set date.
Several African countries also show a more specific Q1 2023 launch date for the service — including Angola, Gabon, Eswatini, Malawi and Kenya.
They will be the first African countries to get Starlink after Mozambique and Nigeria, where rollouts are expected for the last quarter of 2022.
According to industry experts, one possibility is that SpaceX has not been able to clear the necessary regulatory hurdles to proceed with rollout plans in the countries that now have “unknown” launch dates.
South Africa’s telecoms regulator — the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) — earlier indicated that it would not issue any new licences to companies that are not 30 per cent black-owned, in line with new legislation for Internet service providers (ISPs).
SpaceX needs an Individual Electronics Communications Service (IECS) and Individual Electronic Communications Network Service (IECNS) licence to offer its services in South Africa.
Also, the company needs a radio frequency spectrum licence to enable it to communicate on spectrum bands designated for satellite broadband services.
While Icasa confirmed it had early discussions with SpaceX over the licencing requirements, the company had not yet applied for them.