Zimbabwean regulator gets tough on unauthorised use of Starlink

Zimbabwean regulator gets tough on unauthorised use of Starlink

Another country where the Starlink high-speed satellite internet service is not yet licensed has been forced to resort to legal threats to prevent its unauthorised use. The time it’s Zimbabwe.

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has warned that individuals and businesses discovered distributing and advertising equipment to access Starlink internet services may face arrest. POTRAZ is said to be conducting nationwide raids to arrest those utilising the service, which has yet to be formally registered in Zimbabwe.

In fact it seems as though two persons have been arrested – in Bulawayo and Victoria Falls – and their cases are in court. Police raids may also be carried out soon in Harare, according to a POTRAZ spokesperson.

Despite this lack of authorisation, ads for Starlink kit have apparently been appearing on the internet, particularly on social media sites such as Facebook. According to ITWeb Africa, a government-owned news service has quoted a POTRAZ official as saying: "All people who advertise the gadgets are placing themselves at risk, and they are advised to stop selling and using them.”

The clearance of the service is apparently required to ensure that frequencies do not conflict with one another. Starlink is still in the process of applying for a licence.

Starlink, operated by SpaceX, which designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft, is, as regular readers will know, now available  in more than 60 countries.

However, enthusiasm for the service has sometimes run ahead of legal formalities – and not just in Zimbabwe. We reported a few months ago that Ghana’s National Communications Authority (NCA) had warned sellers of Starlink equipment in the country to cease operations as it had not licensed the operations of Starlink or approved the use of its equipment in Ghana.

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