At its 77th Board meeting on Friday, October 21 in Blantyre, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) granted its first-ever high-speed low latency broadband satellite internet service licenses to Starlink Lilongwe Limited — a company owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, United States of America.
Starlink has been issued the following licenses: Network Facilities, Network Services and Application Service — which will be effective on the day when they will be published in the Government gazette.
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, providing satellite internet access coverage to 40 countries and aims for global mobile phone service after 2023.
SpaceX started launching Starlink satellites in 2019 and as of September 2022, it consisted of over 3,000 mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit(LEO), which communicate with designated ground transceivers.
Starlink provides is reported to be be providing internet access to over 500,000 subscribers as of June 2022.
The publication said the company Starlink aviation customers can expect speeds up to 350 Megabits per second, “enabling all passengers to access streaming-capable internet at the same time.”
“Passengers can engage in activities previously not functional in flight, including video calls, online gaming, virtual private networks and other high data rate activities,” SpaceX is quoted as saying on its Starlink website.
The additional market player in Malawi follows government’s intervention following increased concerns from consumers regarding high internet data prices in the country — what is dubbed as ‘Data Must Fall’.
In April, 2021 MACRA was directed by Ministry of Information to engage mobile network operators to reduce data charges and since then the service providers made some changes to their charges, but the public still is not satisfied.
On Thursday, at the official presentation of a license to new mobile service provider Malcel Plc and granting SDNP the authorization to manage and administer the Country Code Top Level Domain (CCTLD), which will assist Malawians to begin using dot mw (.mw) emails and websites on Malawi domains, Minister of Information & Digitalisation, Gospel Kazako hinted of a new development in response to Data Must Fall.
This should surely be the case of the new internet player in the sector as government aims at ensuring that data services are affordable to all Malawians.
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