At its 77th Board Meeting on Friday, October 21 in Blantyre, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) awarded its first-ever high-speed, low-latency broadband internet service licenses to Starlink Lilongwe Limited – a company owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, United States of America.
Starlink has received the following licenses: network facilities, network services and application service – which will come into force on the day of their publication in the Official Gazette.
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, providing satellite internet access coverage to 40 countries and targeting global mobile phone service after 2023.
SpaceX began launching Starlink satellites in 2019, and as of September 2022, it consisted of more than 3,000 small, mass-produced satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), which communicate with designated ground transceivers.
Starlink would provide internet access to over 500,000 subscribers in June 2022.
The publication says Starlink’s aviation customers can expect speeds of up to 350 megabits per second, “allowing all passengers to access streaming-enabled internet at the same time.”
“Passengers may engage in previously non-functional in-flight activities, including video calls, online games, virtual private networks and other high data rate activities,” SpaceX said on its Starlink website. .
The additional market player in Malawi follows government intervention following growing consumer concerns over high internet data prices in the country – which is being dubbed “Data Must Fall”.
In April 2021, MACRA was tasked by the Ministry of Information to engage mobile network operators to reduce data charges and since then service providers have made some changes to their charges, but the public n is still not satisfied.
On Thursday, during the official presentation of a license to new mobile service provider Malcel Plc and granting SDNP permission to manage and administer the Country Code Top Level Domain (CCTLD), which will help Malawians start using dot mw (.mw) emails and websites on Malawi domains, Information and Digitization Minister Gospel Kazako hinted at a new development in response to Data Must Fall .
This should certainly be the case for the new Internet player in the sector, as the government aims to ensure that data services are affordable for all Malawians.
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