Another company in Zimbabwe fined for illegally using Starlink


VICTORIA FALLS – Zambezi Boutique Private Limited, a Victoria Falls-based company, was fined US$500 for unauthorized use of Starlink internet services, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said.

Companies in Zimbabwe fined for illegal Starlink use
Companies in Zimbabwe are facing fines for the illegal use of Starlink internet services, as government remains ambivalent on updating regulatory frameworks. 

The company was found guilty by a Victoria Falls magistrate of violating the Postal and Telecommunications Act Chapter 12:05, which prohibits the "possession, control or operation of a radio station without a radio station license."

The NPA disclosed that in September 2023, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), the country's telecom regulatory authority, acted on a tip-off about the company's possession of Starlink terminals. 

"Acting on the tip-off a team from POTRAZ together with the Police proceeded to the company premises where they were led to the terminal connection located at the reception area," the NPA stated.

The company's general manager was unable to provide a license authorizing the possession, control, or operation of the equipment. Consequently, the company was fined US$500, and the Starlink equipment was seized by the state.

This incident follows a similar case last month when San He Mining, a Chinese company operating in Mashonaland Central Province, was fined US$700 by a Bindura Magistrate for contravening the same act. The company's router and antenna were confiscated.

Despite the high-speed broadband services offered by Elon Musk's SpaceX-operated Starlink in over 60 countries, Zimbabwe is yet to license the satellite internet network for local use. 

POTRAZ has issued stern warnings of potential arrests for individuals and businesses found distributing and advertising Starlink Internet services' equipment.

While Starlink's services have not yet received regulatory approval in Zimbabwe, Internet service kits are being sold, notably on social media platforms like Facebook, causing annoyance among officials. 

Vengesai Magadzire, POTRAZ's deputy director of economic tariffs and competition, stated last week, "As the regulator, POTRAZ is mandated to license operators in Zimbabwe but now Starlink has not submitted its application for the licence. We are waiting to hear from it and once it submits Potraz will do what is required." 

This statement contradicts claims made in September 2023 by Jenfan Muswere, the current information minister and former ICT minister, who stated that Zimbabwe received Starlink's application for a licence and that it was under review. 

"What I remember (from my time as ICT minister) is that they [Starlink] submitted their application for licencing and POTRAZ was still going through that application… Of course we want to see it approved," he said then. 

In December 2023, it was reported that Starlink was coming to Zimbabwe through a partnership with Dandemutande, a local internet services and ICT solutions provider, but the progress of this remains blurry given POTRAZ's intransigence on the matter.  

The demand for Starlink kits in Zimbabwe has surged due to dissatisfaction with local internet service providers, citing poor service and high cost of data packages. The demand has been so high that it has led to a backlog in supply.

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