Starlink users and resellers in Zimbabwe have been warned that unless they secure requisite licenses, they are breaking the law by using and providing the service.
Zimbabwe’s communications regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), has issued a warning against the unlicensed use of Starlink.
To use the service in Zimbabwe, Starlink will have to apply for a direct license with POTRAZ. It appears that Starlink, whose website states that it plans to launch in Zimbabwe in Q3 2023, has not yet secured the requisite license. Alternatively, the regulator states that Starlink could also partner with a registered public network in the country to distribute the service or require its users to apply for private network licenses.
The authority cited increasing cases of “ entities masquerading as licensed satellite service providers” distributing customer premises equipment for the provision of satellite-based internet services as the cause for concern. Starlink has become popular in the southern African nation, with social media users sharing pictures of the service’s router mounted on their premises. Even the country’s national broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcast Corporation, has been seen using the service.
It further added that local resellers, even after securing a local license, were only allowed to distribute satellite-based internet services if their virtual network operator (VNO) agreements with the service provider, in this case, Starlink, were approved.
“Being found in possession or operating telecommunication equipment/system without a valid license, certificate or authorisation from POTRAZ is a statutory offence punishable by law,” Dr G.K Machengete, director general of POTRAZ, said in a statement.
Zimbabwe joins South Africa in enacting much stricter regulations with regard to the usage of Starlink. A fortnight ago, the country’s telecommunication regulator banned the importation, distribution and usage of Starlink services, pending the Elon Musk-owned entity satisfying licensing requirements to launch the service.