ICASA warns against ‘illegal’ Starlink use

18 December 2023

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has warned companies that are reportedly importing and selling Starlink satellite internet terminals in South Africa, calling the practice ‘illegal’ and warning that fines could be imposed.

ICASA had noted recent developments on the alleged provision of satellite internet services through Starlink terminals in South Africa, and of some entities distributing Starlink products from within the country and from neighbouring countries.

“The Authority has indicated previously, through numerous media engagements, that Starlink does not hold any licence issued by the Authority to provide electronic communications, electronic communications network or broadcasting services in South Africa,” said ICASA acting chairperson Yolisa Kedama. “No person may provide a service (i.e. broadcasting, electronic communications and electronic communications network services) without a licence.”

Any person who provides a service without a license ‘is guilty of an offence’ and liable to a fine of up to R5 million or 10% of the person or licensee’s annual turnover for every day or part thereof during which the offence continued.

Because Starlink is not licensed locally, South Africans cannot order kits directly from the company’s website. But some have reportedly found ways to purchase equipment and use the satellite tech via optional regional and international roaming features.