SpaceX has reportedly opened discussions with the government of Burundi over a potential launch of its Starlink Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite broadband service in Q2 2024.
As reported by Agence Ecofin, Burundi is gearing up for the commercial launch of 5G services from July 2024, and Starlink’s presence could align with this strategy. High-speed internet is largely unavailable to most of Burundi’s population, so Starlink’s satellite connectivity is seen as a strong option for connecting rural areas where there are no terrestrial networks.
CommsUpdate notes that Burundi’s Telecommunications Regulation and Control Agency (ARCT) has highlighted that spectrum availability is a major problem inhibiting the deployment of 5G in the market. The regulator has earmarked a continuous band of 60MHz-100MHz in the sub-6GHz bands for 5G services, as well as a minimum of 800MHz of millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum above 6GHz.
Additionally, ARCT is set to release spectrum across the 700MHz, 2.3GHz, 2.5GHz, 3.5GHz and 26GHz bands in December 2023, and will authorise 5G testing in January 2024. In its roadmap, ARCT notes that “depending on the availability of the spectrum and the needs of the market, the ARCT may set up a mechanism [e.g. auction] for selecting candidates for the use of the spectrum predefined in advance.”