The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has granted an operational license to Starlink, a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, providing satellite internet access coverage to 32 countries. The licence came after the company’s staff visited Nigeria in May of last year.
Elon Musk took to his Twitter handle to announce the development and the NCC has also included Starlink among licensees in Nigeria on its website.
The company received two licences; the international gateway licence and Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence, and will be trading as Starlink Internet Services Nigeria Ltd.
The international gateway licence has 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, according to the NCC.
Starlink enables video chats, online gaming, streaming, and other high-data-rate activities that had previously been impossible with satellite internet, thanks to high speeds and low latency as low as 20 minutes in most regions.
Ryan Goodnight, Starlink’s Market Access Director for Africa, and Levin Born, a SpaceX consultant, paid a visit to the NCC in May of last year, expressing interest in obtaining a license to operate satellite internet in the country.
Prior to the visit, the NCC and the space industry had been digitally debating the issue until the NCC gave permission for a physical meeting.
After SpaceX representatives presented an overview of the company’s plans, expectations, licensing requests, and deployment phases, NCC Executive Vice-Chairman Prof. Umar Danbatta, represented by NCC Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Ubale Maska, promised that the NCC would work on necessary modalities to ensure that it balanced the need for healthy competition with the entry of new technologies, protecting 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.”