Tesla founder, Elon Musk through SpaceX, is in the process of getting the necessary licenses to bring Starlink, its satellite-based broadband services to Nigeria; a move that will pit it against network providers like MTN Nigeria, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile. Starlink is under SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer, which is also owned by Musk. The company had been in discussion with the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC virtually for several months.
Having made significant progress in the discussion, the NCC granted SpaceX’s request for a face-to-face discussion to gain better insights on the prospects of its proposal. Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC, Ubale Maska, said, “As the regulator of a highly dynamic sector in Nigeria, the commission is conscious of the need to ensure that our regulatory actions are anchored on national interest.
We have listened to your presentation and we will review it vis-à-vis our regulatory direction of ensuring effective and a sustainable telecoms ecosystem where a licensee’s operational model does not dampen healthy competition among other licensees.” SpaceX’s team was led by SpaceX’s Starlink Market Access Director for Africa, Ryan Goodnight.
The NCC said it was interested in making necessary regulatory efforts to increase broadband penetration in the country as contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan, 2020-2025.
The agency is empowered by Section 70 (2) of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003 to regulate the provision and use of all satellite communications services and networks, in whole or in part within Nigeria or on a ship or aircraft registered in Nigeria. Starlink is an Internet service launched by SpaceX to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband connectivity especially in areas of the globe where the Internet is expensive, unreliable, or entirely unavailable.
Starlink satellites are 60 times closer to earth than traditional satellites, hence they are suited to areas where ground infrastructure might be a challenge to ensure that they can deliver high-speed broadband Internet to areas where the infrastructure is missing.