The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) has sought the opinion of Pakistan’s space research authority, the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), the Aviation Division, and other stakeholders on whether Starlink should be licensed or not.
Sources in the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) have confirmed that US-based broadband service provider Starlink has applied for a license and but its provision is uncertain as the matter is with the MoITT.
Starlink is a US-based satellite internet constellation operated by Elon Musk’s spaceflight company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX). It comprises multiple satellites that orbit the planet much closer to Earth (at about 550 km) and cover the entire globe while providing speedy satellite internet service.
Sources within the ministry said that it has written a letter to SUPARCO, Aviation Division, and other stakeholders for consultation on the licensing, and a decision will be made after all stakeholders have been consulted.
They added that the issue of the license is linked to security concerns as an attacker can easily intercept such communication and even corrupt the transmitted data, which is why the ministry is being cautious. It reasoned that many countries are reluctant to license Starlink, a few have refused to license it, and some have even suspended the licenses due to security concerns.
Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, and other major countries have not issued licenses to Starlink, while India is undecided on the matter. France’s highest administrative court also recently revoked Starlink’s license in the country, citing monopolization concerns due to the size and scale of the company’s operations.
PTA had prohibited Starlink on 28 January from taking pre-order bookings from prospective Pakistani consumers as the latter was not licensed to provide internet services in Pakistan. According to the PTA, Starlink’s advance booking is closed and its name has been removed from the former’s website.