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Zimbabwe cracks down on Starlink users

By , ITWeb
Zimbabwe , 24 Jan 2024
Elon Musk, Starlink founder.
Elon Musk, Starlink founder.

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), Zimbabwe's telecom regulator, has warned that individuals and businesses discovered distributing and advertising equipment to access Starlink Internet services may face arrest.

According to local website H-Metro, which is government-owned, POTRAZ is conducting nationwide raids to arrest those utilising Elon Musk's Starlink.

Starlink has yet to be formally registered in Zimbabwe, but some have been advertising the internet services kits, particularly on social media sites such as Facebook, which has irritated the authorities.

Starlink, a satellite internet system that covers more than 60 countries, is operated by SpaceX. Satellites for the service began launching in 2019, and a mobile phone service is expected to start this year, albeit, only text services. Voice and data to cellphones are expected to start in 2025.

According to H-Metro, a POTRAZ official is cited as saying: "It is illegal to sell or use Starlink in Zimbabwe, and police will conduct raids and arrests shortly.

"All people who advertise the gadgets are placing themselves at risk, and they are advised to stop selling and using them.”

The official said that police raids would soon take place in Harare. The nature of the arrests would centre on the fact that Starlink services have not been granted licences to operate in the country.

"The use of unlicensed telecommunication is prohibited. The service should wait for permission; the telecommunications process requires that they not interfere with other services,” the spokesperson is quoted as saying.

"Their clearance is critical to ensuring that frequencies do not conflict with one another.

"Starlink is still in the process of applying for a licence; they are not already licenced.”

The report also notes that the POTRAZ official says arrests have already been made.

"So far, two persons have been arrested in Vic Falls and Bulawayo, and their cases are in court.”

Starlink is currently being officially offered in various African nations, including Nigeria, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, and Malawi. 

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