[Ivory Coast: ARTCI threatens to sanction Starlink for providing internet services without authorization

[DIGITAL Business Africa ] – The Ivory Coast Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ARTCI) issued a press release on 19 March 2024 reminding telecom users in the country that Starlink is not authorized to market its internet services in the country. Therefore, the marketing and use of Starlink kits (antennas) throughout Ivory Coast is illegal, according to the telecommunications regulator.

The electronic communications police of Côte d'Ivoire reminds that the activity of creating and operating telecommunications/ICT networks for the provision of Internet access services is subject to a category 1C or category 1A individual license, in accordance with Decree 2012-293 of March 21, 2012 regarding Telecommunications and Information and Communication Technologies.

In its press release, ARTCI informs the population, legal entities and all entities in the field of telecommunications/ICT that to date, the company STARLINK does not hold any of the individual licenses required for the establishment and operation of telecommunications/ICT networks for the provision of Internet access services in Côte d'Ivoire.

ARTCI reminds that the establishment and operation of telecommunications/ICT networks for the provision of Internet access service without a license is illegal and punishable by penalties provided by the applicable regulations.threatens the general management of ARTCI led by Namahoua Bamba Toure.

Therefore, ARTCI invites the population to subscribe to the Internet access service exclusively by duly authorized telecommunications operators and service providers. She says about it:

– Among category lA license holders:

– Among category 1C license holders:

• DATACONNECT;

• Ivory Coast DETAILS.

STARLINK, a network available everywhere

Indeed, Starlink's Internet network is available worldwide at high speed and helps cities, but especially rural areas and white areas not served by ISPs, to connect to the Internet. A special feature of Starlink's offer is the smooth quality of the Internet connection with speeds sometimes up to 260 Mbps.

In addition, Starlink reports that its network “is ideal for areas where connectivity is unreliable or completely unavailable”. “People around the world use Starlink to access education, health services and even communications in the event of a natural disaster.”Starlink boasts.

Many Africans therefore take up this offer by purchasing the STARLINK antenna (or kit) in Europe which they bring back to Africa, install it and then sign up for a monthly Starlink package by registering online as a user from a country where Starlink operates legally. Those doing so in Central and West Africa generally register as users from Nigeria.

Others have even made importing Starlink kits into Africa their business. They buy them for about 250,000 CFA francs in Europe and resell them in Africa at prices ranging from 400,000 CFA francs to 800,000 CFA francs. This is happening in Cameroon and many African countries.

In 2024, Starlink legal in Ivory Coast?

In Africa today, Starlink already claims an official presence in five countries: Nigeria, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya and Rwanda. The American operator reports that several African countries will be officially and legally activated in 2024. This is the case of Ivory Coast according to Starlink's forecasts. ARTCI's press release suggests that STARLINK's steps in that country to formalize it have not yet begun.

In 2025, Starlink also plans to continue its official installation in several countries, such as DR Congo and Cameroon.

By March 2024, Space X already had a total of 5,504 Starlink satellites in orbit, including 5,442 operational ones, by the count of astronomer Jonathan McDowell who tracks Starlink's progress in space.

Starlink satellites have a lifespan of about five years, and SpaceX aims to grow this mega-constellation to 42,000 satellites. According to specialist websites, the current V2 version of the Starlink satellite weighs about 800 kg at launch, almost three times more than the old generation satellites (which weigh 260 kg), according to Spaceflight Now.

The Starlink satellites orbit around 550 kilometers above the earth and, according to experts, offer observers a grand spectacle as they move across the sky. For some, this sight is not appreciated by all and can significantly hinder optical and radio astronomy observations.

Also shameful is the development of STARLINK in Africa through intermediaries. A situation that embarrasses many African telecommunications regulators who are torn between banning STARLINK and administrative tolerance. Especially now that Internet services are being disrupted by the incident that paralyzed four undersea fiber optic cables, thus disconnecting many countries.

By Beaugas Orain DJOYUM

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