Starlink Shutting Off Roaming in South Africa End of April

Starlink is shutting down its roaming functionality in South Africa on April 30. The decision is likely to leave South Africans out of access to the service amid a dragging licensing process. The roaming option allowed the use of the service even in countries like South Africa Starlink is not licensed yet. 

“If you are operating your Starlink kit in an area other than areas designated as “Available” on the Starlink availability map, we would like to remind you that this is in violation of the Starlink terms and starting April 30th, 2024, you will be unable to connect to the internet,” the company said in an email to users.

The announcement by Starlink to disable roaming follows similar communication with Zimbabwe users last week. Starlink’s lengthy licensing process in SA has seen users turn to roaming to use the service in the country. With the ban on roaming, it means South Africans will have to wait out the licensing process to access Starlink.

Mozambique has been the preferred destination for users to buy and activate their Starlink devices, after which they would come back to use them in South Africa. So much demand was there for the service that resellers like Starsat, based in Mozambique have operations solely dedicated to offering the import and delivery of Starlink units to countries including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

Unlike in Zimbabwe, where Starlink’s decision to shut off roaming was a direct result of an instruction from the regulator, this does not seem to be the case in South Africa. Although the regulator the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has in the past publicly pushed back against Starlink use in the country, the move to shut off SA users from users seems to be coming from Starlink itself. Users in other countries like Cameroon also received the same communication yesterday, April 15.

Starlink continues to face an uncertain future in South Africa. Unlike other countries in the region like Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia where it is yet to be licensed but has an estimated launch date, in South Africa, the launch date is “unknown” on the availability map.  Although ICASA is yet to confirm this, reports state that South Africa’s law requiring Starlink to give away 30% of its holding company to a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) initiative seems to be the insurmountable stumbling block.

Previous Post Next Post