Starlink setback in South Africa


South Africans who have pre-ordered SpaceX’s Starlink will have to wait another year before they can access the much-hyped satellite Internet service.

Multiple MyBroadband forum members have said the estimated availability date of their orders had changed from 2022 to 2023 during the past week.

“This appears to have changed in the last day or so. My ETA was 2022 when I checked a week ago. This morning I received a general update email from Starlink, I checked my account, and it now states: Starlink expects to expand service in your area in 2023,” one user said.

“Seems the pre-order dates were changed last night, only targeting South Africa in 2023 now on all existing pre-orders as well,” another stated.

MyBroadband confirmed that the expected service expansion date for Starlink on our own pre-order was also 2023, after previously being 2022.

Below is the current message on the account portal page of existing Starlink pre-orders in South Africa.

The switch to 2023 from 2022 previously only seemed to apply to new pre-orders for Starlink from early November 2021.

One MyBroadband forum member said he had pre-ordered on 10 February 2021, the same day the pre-orders opened, and his account was now also showing availability in 2023.

Some have speculated the delay could be due to issues in securing regulatory approval from Icasa, which has to issue Starlink with Electronic Communications Service and Electronic Communication Network Services licences, in addition to a radio frequency spectrum licence, to operate its service in South Africa.

However, this is unlikely to be the case as the service has also been delayed in other parts of the world, including specific locations in the US.

Starlink’s explanation for the delays was provided in an email sent to customers earlier this week, following numerous complaints about a lack of communication from the company.

“Silicon shortages over the last six months have slowed our expected production rate and impacted our ability to fulfil many Starlink orders this year,” it stated.

“We apologise for the delay and are working hard across our engineering, supply chain, and production teams to improve and streamline our product and factory to increase our production rate.”

Starlink currently serves around 140,000 customers in more than 20 countries across the world. It expects to expand to an additional 45 countries by the end of 2022. South Africa now appears not to be on that list.

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