American space company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is in advanced talks with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to bring its Starlink satellite internet into Nigeria.
Starlink’s Market Access Director for Africa, Ryan Goodnight along with SpaceX consultant, Levin paid a visit to the NCC where they discussed the possibility and process of obtaining licenses to operate the satellite internet in the country.
SpaceX is launching a low-earth orbiting (LOE) constellation of satellites to provide low latency, high bandwidths Internet to all corners of the world. The company has identified Nigeria as a critical market in Africa.
Nigeria’s internet penetration currently stands at 50%. With the federal government targeting 70% penetration by 2025, the country needs every help it can get. With regular telcos still battling with states over Right of Way (RoW), Starlink’s low latency, high bandwidths satellite internet could present a very viable alternative.
There are about 1,500 Starlink satellites in orbit today. In 2021 alone, the company has launched 610 satellites into orbit. Following the American communications regulator’s approval of a license modification for SpaceX in April, SpaceX is now looking to increase the number of its satellites to 2,814.
Coming to Nigeria
The space company has been in virtual discussions with the Nigerian regulator, the NCC, over the past several months with the aim of kickstarting the process of pursuing all necessary licenses to bring Starlink broadband services to Nigeria.
With substantial progress been made in the discussion, the Commission granted SpaceX’s request for a face-to-face discussion to gain better insights on the prospects of their proposal.
At the meeting, SpaceX representatives provided an overview of its plans, expectations, licensing requests and deployment phases. However, the NCC noted the need to ensure there’s healthy competition to protect other players in the telecoms space especially with the introduction of new technologies.
“We have listened to your presentation and we will review it vis-à-vis our regulatory direction of ensuring effective and a sustainable telecoms ecosystem where a licensee’s operational model does not dampen healthy competition among other licensees,”NCC to SpaceX
The NCC further stated its interest in making necessary regulatory efforts to drive the coverage of rural, unserved and underserved areas of the country through the accomplishments of the lofty targets contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025.