SpaceX Starlink Yet to Obtain Approval in Pakistan

SpaceX’s high-speed satellite broadband service, Starlink, has still not received approval to launch in Pakistan — reports ProPakistani.

Reports of SpaceX reaching an understanding with the Pakistani government to roll out Starlink service in the South Asian country first surfaced in December 2021. At the time, Starlink had already registered a local subsidiary and was expected to imminently open its first physical office in the country.

However, well over a year later, Starlink is yet to be granted an operating license from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). In addition to concerns over data security, the broadcast and telecom regulator said it also has reservations regarding Starlink’s business model and technical arrangements, which SpaceX is yet to address.

For starters, sources at the PTA told ProPakistani that the government expects Starlink to cost about $700 USD (PKR 195,500) upfront for the required hardware, and $100 USD (PKR 27,900) per month for service. That’s much higher than terrestrial broadband in the region.

In the U.S., Starlink currently costs $110 per month with a one-time hardware fee of $599. That said, SpaceX last year dropped Starlink pricing in many countries to account for “local market conditions,” and the company could come up with a similar arrangement for Pakistan.

According to PTA officials, SpaceX has been barred from accepting Starlink pre-orders from Pakistan until the company obtains the appropriate licenses.

Discussions between SpaceX and Pakistani authorities are reportedly still ongoing, though, with efforts being made to make sure the company complies with all of the regulations necessary for the grant of a license. Starlink was also supposed to launch in the neighboring country of India, but those plans are also in limbo as SpaceX attempts to acquire the necessary permits.