Sat. May 25th, 2024


Elon Musk-owned Starlink continues to operate in multiple unauthorized regions despite earlier warnings from the company that its satellite internet service would be shut down by May 1 in areas lacking proper licensing, reported Bloomberg.

Reportedly, SpaceX, the parent company of Starlink, had sent emails last month to customers in various African nations indicating that roaming service would be restricted in regions where it was illegal to operate.

Despite this, Adam Mohamed, a resident of El-Fasher in conflict-stricken Sudan, was able to conduct an interview with the wire via a Starlink connection on Wednesday. He explained, “I’m currently talking to you through the Starlink connection; it’s the only way of connecting between people, especially those who fled the war.”

The emails sent by Starlink to its customers came after Bloomberg’s investigation revealed that Musk’s satellites were being used in several countries without proper authorization, including regions under repressive regimes. The report from the wire’s investigation highlighted the ease with which Starlink kits could be smuggled and their widespread availability on the black market, raising concerns about the company’s control over a system with significant national security implications.

Reportedly, following the Bloomberg investigation and a similar report in The Wall Street Journal, Starlink issued notices to users, stating that they would be unable to connect to the internet starting April 30, 2024, if they continued to use the service in unauthorized regions. However, an online poll conducted with nearly 100 Starlink customers in South Africa found that 73 percent could still access the service after the cut-off date.

While some Starlink users in Sudan reported service interruptions, others said they could still access the internet without any issues. Manuel Ntumba, an Africa geospatial, governance, and risk expert based in New York, indicated that Starlink can implement virtual barriers to block unauthorized users, but this requires cooperation with local regulatory bodies.

As per the report, in the emails sent to users, Starlink explained that its roaming services are intended for “temporary travel and transit,” not for permanent use in unlicensed locations. The company advised customers who accessed the service outside their original jurisdiction for more than two months to either change their account country or return to the location where the service was originally ordered.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)



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Published: 02 May 2024, 06:26 PM IST


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