Elon Musk’s SpaceX has applied to the Tunisian authorities for permission to sell high-speed Internet service through its StarLink low-altitude satellite fleet.
It should be remembered that SpaceX has announced its intention to strengthen its position in Africa with a presence in no less than 23 African countries, including Mauritius, Angola, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Benin and Morocco.
According to our information, the Ministry of Communications has been studying the possibility of creating a license with a simplified procedure for several months, adapted to the new technology used by SpaceX; current regulations do not allow the sale of satellite subscriptions, with the exception of geostationary VSAT satellites.
To avoid direct competition with local carriers (Tunisie Telecom, Ooredoo Tunisie and Orange Tunisie), the license requested by SpaceX will be limited to remote and rural areas of Tunisia, and areas with very high speed connectivity through traditional telecommunications networks are difficult. Mostly directions that make little or no profit for telecom operators. This is the StarLink business model, at least for developing countries like Africa.
However, according to our sources, SpaceX has rejected the StarLink marketing ministry’s offer of a carrier-to-carrier partnership contract. The American company prefers to deal with the logistics and commercial side itself after obtaining a license.
According to what we have been able to obtain as information, the text of this special license should be ready in the near future, and then submitted for approval to various interested parties.
Several countries are in the same situation as Tunisia, since the rules regarding this technology (internet via non-geostationary satellite) were only approved at the last World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) in 2019.