Starlink to disconnect subscribers in Ghana, South Africa, Botswana

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April 16, 2024
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2 min read
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The news: 

  • Starlink has emailed its roaming customers to inform them they can only access its satellite Internet service in areas where the company is authorised to do business. 
  • By the end of April 2024, the SpaceX-operated broadband service will disconnect all individuals and businesses using the service in unauthorised locations across Africa, including Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe
  • Starlink subscribers in authorised countries like Mozambique, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Nigeria can continue to use their kits as the new rule won’t affect them.  

Thousands of Starlink users on the continent who have come to rely on the relatively faster and, in some places, cheaper Internet are now set to lose access by month’s end. 

In nations on the continent where the service has yet to be licenced, the users import Starlink kits from neighbouring countries where it’s approved and use the roaming service despite prohibition. 

In the email, the company explained, that it intended its regional and global roaming plans for temporary use by customers who are travelling and in transit, not for permanent use in locations in unauthorised areas.

The Internet service provider also stated that using a Starlink kit in an unauthorised area violates the company’s Terms & Conditions.

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It said that after the April 2024 deadline, subscribers who use its roaming plan for more than two months outside of locations where service must be officially ordered must either return home or update their account country to the current one. Failure to do either will force the company to limit the service.

To keep its service active, the US-based satellite Internet company stated that users with roaming subscriptions would only access it in their registered country every two months. Still, reports indicate it didn’t enforce the conditions for over a year. It remains to be seen how this new rule will be any different. 

To go around this rule and continue to use the service despite the ban, users in areas outside Starlink's officially listed countries might find a market of people willing to transport the kits to neighbouring countries where the service is supported to fulfil the two-month “check-in.”

However, many of these users might return to find the service irresponsive, as it remains unclear whether its roaming plans will be available in countries where it’s not licenced, according to the company’s recent email. 

Starlink can turn off coverage in any country, as it has already done in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe, per the requests from the communications regulators in these nations. 

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It’s unclear if any regulators on the continent have made similar requests.


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