Liquid Intelligent Technologies Enters Satellite Internet Market as Starlink Struggles With Licensing

Liquid Intelligent Technologies, the South African tech firm present in 25 African markets, has partnered with Eutelsat Group to launch low earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet service. 

Unlike SpaceX’s Starlink which is available for residential and enterprise use, Liquid Intelligent Technologies’ service will only be available to businesses at launch. Eutelsat will act as a distributor of the service in Africa.

“Our collaboration with Eutelsat signifies a milestone in bringing cutting-edge LEO services to our customers across multiple countries in Africa, empowering them with high-speed solutions and unlocking new possibilities for connectivity,” said Ahmed El Beheiry, Liquids CEO.

Liquid Intelligent Technologies’s timing for the market entry comes when Starlink, the global LEO satellite internet service provider, is struggling to secure operating licenses in a number of African markets. In 2023, Amazon and Vodafone also announced that they would launch Project Kuiper, another LEO satellite internet service, in Africa.

Starlink is currently available in Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda, Benin, Eswatini and Mauritius. In Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, and Ghana, the company is struggling with regulatory requirements.

For instance, South Africa’s Electronic Communications Act requires that at least a 30% stake in telcos or internet service providers be allocated to disadvantaged groups. Meanwhile in Botswana, the government has banned the import and use of Starlink devices, citing a lack of licensing.

Satellite technology has been touted as the solution to Africa’s low internet coverage, and could offer faster speeds and lower latency. According to GSMA, global mobile network operators, only 22% of sub-Saharan Africa’s 1.2 billion people have internet access. This is mostly attributed to lack of infrastructure and the high cost of services in the region.

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