The world’s richest man, Elon Musk has revealed that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has issued its firm, Starlink Internet Limited, with two licences to operate in Nigeria.
Starlink Internet Limited, which is operated by SpaceX, will be trading as Starlink Internet Services Nigeria Limited.
The company received the two licences, which include the International Gateway licence and Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence, after months of negotiations with the NCC.
However, the Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, could not be reached by telephone to confirm it, and he did not respond to WhatsApp chat, which THISDAY sent to him for confirmation.
However, a reliable source at NCC, who confirmed it, told THISDAY that Starlink applied for three licences last year, while the NCC considered two of the licences as of last week after Starlink met certain requirements.
The source, however, said NCC would issue an official statement when it concludes the approval process for the two licences.
But Musk, via his Twitter handle, said NCC had confirmed and approved the two licences, before issuing Starlink the operational.
The licensing followed a visit to Nigeria by the company’s team in May last year.
Starlink offers satellite internet access coverage to 32 countries where its use has been licensed. It also provides high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe.
Within each coverage area, orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis.
THISDAY gathered that the International Gateway licence has a 10-year tenure while the ISP licence is to last for five years. Both licences take effect from May 2022 and may be renewed after the expiration.
With high speeds and latency as low as 20 minutes in most locations, Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet.
Users also have the option to take Starlink with them via the Portability feature or Starlink.
In May last year, Starlink’s Market Access Director for Africa, Ryan Goodnight along with SpaceX consultant, Levin Born, had paid a visit to the NCC where they expressed interest to obtain a licence to operate the satellite internet in the country.
Prior to the visit, the NCC and the space company had been discussing the issue virtually before approval for a physical meeting was granted by the NCC.
After SpaceX representatives provided an overview of its plans, expectations, licensing requests, and deployment phases, the Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, represented by the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC, Ubale Maska, had promised that the NCC would work on necessary modalities to ensure that it balanced the need for healthy competition vis-a-vis the entry of new technologies, to protect all industry stakeholders.
He had said, “as the regulator of a highly dynamic sector in Nigeria, the commission is conscious of the need to ensure that our regulatory actions are anchored on national interest.
“We have listened to your presentation and we will review it vis-à-vis our regulatory direction of ensuring an effective and sustainable telecoms ecosystem where a licensee’s operational model does not dampen healthy competition among other licensees.”
Maska further stated that the commission was interested in making necessary regulatory efforts to drive the coverage of rural, unserved, and underserved areas of the country through the accomplishments of the targets contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan, 2020-2025