The South African technology press has been reporting that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is talking to aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company SpaceX regarding its satellite-based Starlink internet service.
Starlink is described as a fast, low-latency satellite broadband service that will eventually be available across the world. It uses satellites said to be more than 60 times closer to Earth than traditional satellites, with all that implies for improved latency and better services.
Is this a big deal? Well, Starlink says that during its beta phase, users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms in most locations over the next several months (albeit there will be brief periods of no connectivity). It adds: “As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically.”
And South Africans can sign up now in advance of a 2022 service launch in their country, by visiting the website, entering their personal details and paying a deposit of $99 via debit or credit card. Once signed up, users will receive a Starlink Kit which includes a Starlink Wi-Fi router, power supply, cables and mounting tripod.
The service is only available to a limited number of South African users per coverage area. Orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis.
However, the company requires regulatory approval from ICASA before it can start operating in South Africa. Hence the ongoing discussions, not least, it seems, to resolve potential interference issues.