South African regulator cracks down on unauthorized Starlink reseller

South Africa’s Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) is attempting to put its foot down on unauthorized Starlink resellers. The telecoms regulator has ordered IT Lec, an internet service provider based in the northern Cape to stop the importation and distribution of Starlink kits, along with discontinuing active services.

As we have previously reported, SpaceX has not officially expanded Starlink into Elon Musk’s home country of South Africa due to regulations that require companies applying for telecoms license to have at least 30% ownership by historically disadvantaged groups, including women, blacks, and the disabled.

SpaceX had originally hoped to expand Starlink into South Africa in 2022, with that date later changing to 2023, and now being listed as “unknown” on the Starlink availability map. Despite not having an official presence in the country, IT Lec managed to work around the regulatory challenges and import Starlink kits with a Roam subscription which South Africans could purchase for R15,000 (C$1,083) plus R1,799 (C$130) per month.

The package has proved extremely popular with over 2,600 customers taking advantage of the offer, enough to force the company to stop taking new orders due to the high demand. But it looks like those efforts have now been met with a warning from ICASA to cease all acquisition, distribution, and facilitation of Starlink products in the country.

“IT LEC (Pty) Ltd should, within three days of receipt of this letter, stop and refrain [from] acquiring, distributing, and facilitating the sale of any Starlink products in South Africa, that will in any form provide satellite access to the Starlink services,” ICASA’s notice read in part.

According to MyBroadBand, which first reported the notice, IT Lec believes the statements and assumptions made by ICASA in their letter are incorrect, including concerns about the approval type for the Starlink kit within South Africa.

The company says they are actively working to rectify these issues with the regulatory body, but while they wait they have come up with a strategy to ensure uninterrupted service. Customers will be transitioned to an alternate company registered in Mozambique. Along with keeping South Africans connected, this will also allow the distribution of Starlink kits to other African nations where the service has not yet been launched.

Starlink is currently available in four African nations – Mozambique, Kenya, Rwanda, and Nigeria.

Starlink provides broadband-like internet speeds in the middle of the Kalahari Desert

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