- The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), the country’s telecom regulator, has threatened to arrest individuals and businesses found distributing and advertising Starlink Internet services’ equipment.
- According to the government-owned website, H-Metro, POTRAZ will soon conduct a nationwide raid to root out all defaulters, including those who may have installed the Internet network.
- The raid will reportedly begin in Harare, in collaboration with the police, and spread throughout the country.
Although Starlink has yet to be licenced by the telecom regulator, many individuals and businesses have since advertised and distributed the Internet service kits, particularly on social media platforms, including Facebook.
This move appears to have prompted the government to adopt a more aggressive strategy.
A POTRAZ official revealed that the police have arrested two violators in Vic Falls and Bulawayo. Their cases are awaiting hearing in a Zimbabwean court.
The official also stated that selling or using Starlink services anywhere in Zimbabwe is illegal and that the regulator will conduct a raid to arrest anyone or any business that violates this regulation.
"All people who advertise the gadgets are placing themselves at risk, and they are advised to stop selling and using them,” the official added.
Starlink is currently banned in Zimbabwe because the country prohibits unlicensed telecommunications. The regulator insists that Starlink wait for permission and follow proper telecommunications processes before starting operations; otherwise, it will disrupt other services.
POTRAZ maintains that Starlink is still applying for a licence to operate in Zimbabwe and that operating before approval may cause its frequency to clash with other operators.
Zimbabwe isn’t the only African country where Starlink is prohibited. In December 2023, Ghana’s telecom regulator, the National Communication Authority (NAC), declared the sales, service, and use of Starlink in the country illegal.
Starlink, SpaceX's satellite Internet system, has coverage in over 60 countries and is currently operational in several African countries, including Nigeria, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, and Malawi.
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Starlink first started launching satellites for the Internet service in 2019. The company says a text-only mobile phone service is coming this year, while voice and data offerings will follow in 2025.