Pakistan is set to halt Starlink pre-orders


TAMPA, Fla. — Pakistan has followed India in ordering SpaceX to stop taking pre-orders for Starlink broadband services within its unlicensed borders.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) said in a Press release of January 19 that “Starlink has neither sought nor obtained a license from the PTA to operate and provide Internet services” in the country.

The telecommunications regulator has advised the general public to refrain from pre-booking the service in Pakistan through Starlink or related websites.

“The instructions came following reports that Starlink, through its website, is asking potential subscribers to pay a $99 (refundable) deposit to pre-order equipment/services,” PTA said.

“PTA has already taken up the matter with Starlink to stop taking pre-order reservations from the targeted consumers with immediate effect, as the company has not been granted any license to provide internet services in Pakistan.”

SpaceX, which did not respond to an email seeking comment, still appeared to be accepting pre-order deposits for addresses in Pakistan through the Starlink website since January 19.

The website appeared to remain open to Indian addresses in the days following a similar public announcement on Nov. 26 from the Indian government, which also called on the company to stop taking pre-orders until Starlink has a license to operate in the country.

However, addresses in India are now telling potential subscribers that Starlink is unavailable “due to pending regulatory approval” instead of processing a pre-order.

The chief executive of Starlink in India announced on January 4 that he had resigned for personal reasons, hours later Reuters, Tech Crunch and others reported that SpaceX emailed customers in India telling them that pre-order deposits would be refunded until Starlink was cleared to operate there.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is pursuing an aggressive deployment schedule to develop global coverage, launching Jan. 18. a batch of 49 Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket in low Earth orbit (LEO).

According to statistics kept by astrophysicist and spaceflight analyst Jonathan McDowell, the launch means SpaceX operates 1,879 Starlink satellites in LEO. The company is licensed to operate 4,408 satellites approximately 550 kilometers away.

More than 750,000 people worldwide have pre-ordered satellite internet services, according to Starlink.

Separately, SpaceX is seeking approval from the US Federal Communications Commission for a second-generation network of nearly 30,000 satellites to enhance Starlink’s services.

The launches of this second generation could begin from March following regulatory approvals, according to a SpaceX attorney, including the clearance the company needs to fly the Starship vehicle it is developing from Boca Chica, Texas.

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