Icasa complains over “illegal” Starlink connections
November 30, 2023
By Chris Forrester
Icasa, South Africa’s communications regulator, is complaining about grey market Starlink dish sales in South Africa. Starlink is not licensed in the country.
Icasa says such sales are illegal and “must stop immediately”. Icasa believes that dishes and modems are being brought into South Africa from neighbouring countries where they are licensed to operate.
Starlink has reportedly not yet applied for an operating licence in South Africa. Local speculation is that SpaceX is unwilling to give up 30 per cent equity of any local company it establishes in the country.
South African investment rules state that any foreign business entering South Africa must allocate 30 per cent of its equity to “historically disadvantaged people”.
“The authority has indicated previously, through numerous media engagements, that Starlink does not hold any licence issued by the authority to provide electronic communications, electronic communications network or broadcasting services in South Africa,” Icasa stated.
“Non-type-approved equipment poses a risk of causing harmful interference to the radio frequency spectrum. It further causes a lack of dissonance among devices operating in the same environment resulting in equipment not being functional. Furthermore, equipment which is not type-approved could potentially explode or implode thus putting consumers in harm’s way,” Icasa added.
Icasa warned that hefty penalties could be imposed on anyone breaking the rules, noting: “Any person who provides a service without a licence […] is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding the greater of R5-million or 10 per cent of the person or licensee’s annual turnover for every day or part thereof during which the offence continued.”