PTA delays approval for Starlink in Pakistan over technical and business concerns
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is yet to grant a license to Starlink. It the satellite-based internet service provider founded by Elon Musk. Despite ongoing discussions with various stakeholders, the PTA has cited concerns over the security of data. It is also concern over company’s business model and technical arrangements as reasons for delaying approval. The regulator has emphasized that satellite-based services must conform with applicable licensing regulations. It is important to ensure quality services for users and protect the rights of already licensed operations in Pakistan.
According to PTA sources, Starlink’s device to access the network will cost approximately $700, with a monthly subscription of $100 for a 100Mbps internet connection package in Pakistan. The initial cost of the device and the first-month subscription income will be around RS200,000. With subsequent monthly packages costing RS 28,000. This is significantly higher to other internet service providers in Pakistan that use optical fiber or fixed lines. Additionally, the payment process currently requires credit cards, which may complicate matters for users living in remote areas with limited access to financial services.
The PTA is also looking into other countries in the region that have strict satellite regulations and have not yet granted a license to Starlink. The regulator is engage in ongoing discussions with the company to ensure it complies with all necessary requirements for transparent and lawful operations, particularly regarding data hosting inside Pakistan and satellite-to-satellite communication.
The PTA is working closely with all relevant stakeholders, including the Ministry of Information Technology, to analyze the impact of utilizing spectrum in Low Orbit and has advised Starlink not to book any device orders from Pakistani customers until a license has been granted by the PTA.
While discussions with Starlink continue, the PTA has not yet made a final decision on whether to grant the company a license to operate in Pakistan.