Everything you need to know about Starlink approved ISP in Nigeria

by Johnson Daniel

Nigeria has approved Elon Musk’s Starlink, a SpaceX satellite internet constellation that will provide satellite Internet access coverage to 32 countries where it has been licensed for use.

Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, tweeted this via his Twitter handle. The Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, has also confirmed this in a statement where it was revealed that the service had indeed received two licenses to commence operations in the country.

“The company received two licenses, which include the International Gateway license and Internet Service Provider (ISP) license, and will be trading as Starlink Internet Services Nigeria Ltd. According to NCC, the International Gateway license has a 10-year tenure while the ISP license is to last for five years. Both licenses take effect from May 2022 and may be renewed after the expiration.” NCC reports.

In May of last year, Ryan Goodnight, Starlink’s Market Access Director for Africa, and Levin Born, a SpaceX consultant, paid a visit to the NCC and expressed interest in obtaining a license to operate the satellite internet in the country.

Prior to the visit, the regulator and the space company had been virtually discussing the issue before the NCC granted permission for a physical meeting.

After SpaceX representatives presented an overview of their plans, expectations, licensing requests, and deployment phases, the NCC’s Executive Vice-Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, represented by the NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Ubale Maska, assured them that the NCC would work on necessary modalities to ensure that it balances the need for healthy competition versus the entry of new technologies in order to protect all industry stakeholders.

Maska had 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 an effective and sustainable telecoms ecosystem where a licensee’s operational model does not dampen healthy competition among other licensees.”

Maska further stated that the Commission was interested in making necessary regulatory efforts to drive the coverage of rural, unserved, and underserved areas of the country through the accomplishments of the targets contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan, NNBP, 2020-2025. 

With high speeds and latency as low as 20ms in most locations, Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet. Users also have the option to take Starlink with them via the Portability feature or Starlink for RVs service.

Starlink internet is said to work by transmitting data through space, where it travels much faster than fiber-optic cable. It is also said to be well-suited for areas where connectivity has been unreliable or completely unavailable in the past.

Starlink has played an important role in Ukraine’s ongoing conflict, with the billionaire dispatching thousands of satellite stations to the war-torn country in March.

With the approval, Starlink will compete with 5G license operators such as MTN Nigeria, as well as internet service providers such as Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile.

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