Samoa bans Starlink kit imports as SpaceX awaits licence approval

Samoa bans Starlink kit imports as SpaceX awaits licence approval

Samoa’s Office of the Regulator (OOTR) has reportedly placed a temporary ban on imports of Starlink kits until SpaceX’s application for a licence to offer LEO satellite broadband services to consumers in Samoa is approved.

According to a report in the Samoa Observer, the OOTR issued the ban following reports that a number of residents have purchased Starlink services via overseas markets like Australia and New Zealand, and brought Starlink kits into Samoa to use the service at home or at their business.

People who import Starlink units generally say they do so because it’s cheaper, faster and available compared to local broadband services, the report said.

Regulator Lematua Gisa Fuatai Purcell said that anyone found to be bringing Starlink kits into Samoa will have their equipment confiscated at the border. For people who imported Starlink kits prior to the ban for business purposes, they will be required to bring them to the OOTR for type approval, after which they’ll be given a licence to use the kit for business for a period of 12 months, the report said.

Part of the problem also lies in last month’s news that Starlink received clearance from the cabinet last month to operate in the country.

According to another report from Talamua Online News, OOTR held a public forum earlier this week clarifying that Starlink’s clearance from the cabinet to operate in Samoa is only to provide connectivity for healthcare and education facilities via a partnership with local service provider Bluwave Wireless.

Purcell confirmed that SpaceX has submitted an application for a license to operate in Samoa, and that the application is being processed and likely to be approved, the report added. She also said Starlink had selected Bluwave as its local agent for other satellite services beyond the healthcare and education sector.

Until that happens, use of Starlink services by individuals remains illegal in Samoa. Anyone who doesn’t being their kits in for type approval and continues to use them before Starlink is officially licenced to offer services in Samoa will face prosecution, the report said.

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