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Chinese miner arrested in Zimbabwe for using Starlink

Zimbabwe , 26 Feb 2024
Elon Musk, Starlink founder.
Elon Musk, Starlink founder.

Last week, Zimbabwe penalised a Chinese mining business $700 for using the Starlink internet service, which Zimbabwe has yet to licence for use locally.

Authorities also confiscated the Starlink router and antenna, which were being used.

According to a statement issued by the National Prosecuting Authority, San He Mining Company paid the fine at the Bindura Magistrates Court for "wilfully possessing and or operating a radio station without a licence or authorisation from the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ)."

Prosecutors claimed POTRAZ informed police on 5 December last year that the company was using high-speed satellite-based Internet from the low-Earth orbit satellite company Starlink.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX company operates Starlink, which is currently registered to offer Internet services in over 60 countries. Starlink also has plans to launch mobile phone voice and data services in 2025.

POTRAZ, Zimbabwe's telecom regulator, has warned that individuals and businesses caught distributing and advertising Starlink Internet services' equipment could face arrest.

According to the local government-owned website H-Metro, authorities are launching state-wide operations to apprehend those using Starlink services.

The satellite company’s services have not yet received regulatory approval in Zimbabwe, but Internet service kits are being sold, notably on social media platforms like Facebook, which has annoyed officials.

Starlink is currently available in several African countries, including Nigeria, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, and Malawi. 

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