Elon Musk’s SpaceX finally secures licence to storm Nigeria with satellite broadband services
Existing competition in the Nigerian telecommunications sector is about to get tougher as Elon Musk secured licence for SpaceX, his satellite company to provide broadband services in the country.
It is exclusively reported today that federal government of Nigeria has issued the American aerospace company a six-year operating licence to provide internet services.
The permit will enable SpaceX to offer Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) in Nigerian for the company’s full constellation of 4408 satellites that will be launched in space.
Through its subsidiary, Starlink, SpaceX will deliver a low latency, broadband Internet system to meet the needs of consumers in Nigeria and other countries.
A source within the country’s telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) revealed that “the commission has authorised Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) Satellite Constellation for its full constellation of 4408 satellites and issued a Landing Permit with a duration of six (6) years to SpaceX’s 893 satellites launched at time of application to the Commission,” the NCC said on its website.
“The satellite constellation can beam their signals till November 2026 over Nigerian territory. This Landing Permit is subject to review and extension pending SpaceX’s launching of its full constellation of 4408 satellites.”
The licence, according to the commission, became operational on January 7, 2021.
The licence acquisition is a culmination of earlier engagements between the company and Nigeria’s telecoms regulator.
Just last month, Business Metrics reported that NCC had been in discussion with SpaceX virtually over the past several months and then a delegation from the satellite company visited Nigeria to conclude the process for acquiring necessary licenses to bring Starlink broadband services to the country.
During the meeting with the SpaceX delegation led by the Market Access Director for Africa, Ryan Goodnight, NCC, promised to ensure healthy competition with 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,” the NCC said.
According NCC Space segment providers, like Starlink, cannot provide direct broadband services to last-mile users but can provide services to local telecom operators licensed to provide services to last-mile users.
NCC had reiterated in the light of disruption in the technology world, it is keen on balancing healthy competition with entry of disruptive technologies to ensure sustainable telecoms industry growth and development in Nigeria.
“As the regulator of a highly dynamic sector in Nigeria, the Commission is conscious of the need to ensure that our regulatory actions are anchored on national interest.
“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’s executive commissioner, Technical Services, Engr, Ubale Maska has told the SpaceX team last month.
He added that Nigeria’s target of 70 per cent broadband penetration target, covering 90 per cent of the population by 2025 is also in line with government expectations in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2010-2030.
SpaceX is in the process of launching a low-earth orbiting (LOE) constellation of satellites to provide low latency, high bandwidths Internet to all corners of the globe and has identified Nigeria as a critical market.
The aerospace company is leveraging its experience in building rockets and spacecraft to deploy the world’s most advanced broadband Internet system.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched a group of Starlink satellites on May 15, delivering 52 satellites to space and bringing the total number of Starlink satellites in orbit to more than 1,600.