Starlink terminates service for South African users


Starlink, the satellite Internet service provided by SpaceX, recently terminated the accounts of numerous South African users due to suspected trademark and copyright infringements.

According to a report from MyBroadband, a number of Starlink users who rely on StarSat Africa to manage their accounts have voiced their concerns about experiencing a period of downtime. This issue has prompted frustration among users who rely on the service for their connectivity needs.

In addition, Starlink has reported that resellers are in violation of its terms of use and copyrights by using the Starlink logo for their marketing. Starlink has issued an order for these resellers to cease all unauthorized resales immediately.

Although Starlink does not have a license to operate in South Africa, its roaming services can still be accessed in the country. Customers are able to use the service through resellers like StarSat, who purchase Starlink roaming packages from licensed countries. These resellers then register the services in those countries and handle subscriptions for users in South Africa.

South Africa bans Starlink service

Starlink’s services in South Africa are currently operating without a license, making them technically illegal in the country.

In November 2023, The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) issued a warning to companies regarding the import and sale of Starlink satellite Internet terminals in South Africa. ICASA deemed this practice illegal and emphasized that fines could be imposed.

ICASA has made it clear that providing a service without a license is considered a serious offense. Those found guilty can face hefty consequences, including a fine of up to R5 million (US$263,100) or 10% of their annual turnover. This penalty applies for each day or part thereof that the offense continues. It is important for individuals and licensees to abide by the regulations set forth by ICASA to avoid any legal repercussions.

Backlash against Starlink in Africa

South Africa is not the sole country that has implemented restrictions on the utilization of Starlink across the continent.

In December 2023, the National Communications Authority (NCA) of Ghana issued a warning regarding the operation of Starlink in the West African country. The NCA advised against allowing Starlink to operate in Ghana.

Last month, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) issued a stern warning. They made it clear that individuals involved in the distribution and advertising of equipment to access Starlink Internet services would be subject to imprisonment. This serves as a strong deterrent for anyone considering engaging in such activities.

In April 2023, South African Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele, refuted allegations that the government was obstructing the functioning of Starlink, a project conceived by South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk.

However, there have been other African countries that have expressed opposition to SpaceX’s Starlink initiative. One such example is Senegal, which implemented a ban on the sale of Starlink kits in August 2023. As a result of this ban, five individuals were arrested and now face the possibility of up to five years of imprisonment, along with a hefty fine of US$100,000. This move highlights the seriousness with which Senegal is treating the violation of this ban.

Starlink’s Growing Presence in Africa

Despite facing opposition, Starlink’s satellite Internet service has been successfully launched in several African countries. In November, Benin became the seventh African country to go live with Starlink services.



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