POTRAZ tough stance on innovative SpaceX losing relevance

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By Alois Vinga

THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ)’s tough stance on the usage of Starlink internet continues to lose relevance on the back of calls for authorities to consider a policy shift.

While authorities have not banned the usage of SpaceX internet Starlink per se as they insist that the service provider must approach the regulator and apply for licensing just like any other entity in the sector.

As a result, the usage of Starlink internet in Zimbabwe remains forbidden with those found illegally accessing the network facing prosecution.

However, the spate of fines imposed by the regulator in the recent past indicates that more people in Zimbabwe could be accessing the super-charged internet signal.

A recent announcement by SpaceX further complicates the Southern Africa nation’s stance.

Starlink indicating that the satellites have been able to communicate with multiple models of unmodified Samsung, Apple, and Google devices using (T-Mobile’s) PCS G Block spectrum, including in urban and rural areas, indoors and outdoors, and in clear sky and under tree cover.

Specifically, SpaceX used unmodified phone models from the Galaxy, iPhone, and Pixel lineups.

“These devices have properly communicated for the duration of the satellite pass and did not experience harmful interference from adjacent-band devices,” the company says.

To power the service, the company plans on launching over 800 Direct-to-Cell satellites in the coming months.

The developments on the technology arena have seen market watchers warning POTRAZ to be more receptive and accept the SpaceX technology, which is fast becoming unavoidable.

“Refusing to accept the aggressive nature of StarLink internet is fast becoming a risk for our local regulators. Very soon they will not be able to detect which smart phone is on Starlink connection.

“These guys need to move with speed and accept that they can’t really gate-keep the landscape before it’s too late and take the first step to bring the technology home because it will still come anyhow,” one technology expert said.

Contacted for comment POTRAZ director general, Gift Machengete, neither answered calls nor responded to WhatsApp messages.