The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has not yet granted a license to the satellite-based internet service provider “Starlink.” PTA said that the security of data is not the only concern regarding Starlink’s operations in Pakistan, but also its business model and technical arrangements which are yet to be addressed by the company. The telecom regulator is in continuous engagement with American-based satellite service providers to ensure that provision of satellite-based services should be in conformity with the applicable licensing regime, thus ensuring quality services to the users and protecting the rights of already licensed operators in Pakistan.
PTA sources have revealed that the expected price of the device of Starlink to access the network is approximately $700 and the company will charge a monthly subscription of $100 for a 100Mbps internet connection package in Pakistan. Hence, the device cost along with the first-month subscription income will be around Rs. 200,000 with a subsequent monthly package of Rs. 28,000, which will be the highest in comparison to any optical fiber or fixed line operator in Pakistan. In addition, the payment procedure of the company is followed now through credit cards which will further complicate the issue for Pakistani users living in far-flung, having little dependence on credit cards and financial services and looking for the internet.
The telecom regulator is also analyzing the regional countries which have strict satellite regulations and have yet not awarded licenses to Starlink, due to similar nature of concerns. However, discussions with the company are ongoing and efforts are being made to ensure the company abides by all codal formalities for the grant of license in a transparent manner, especially in relation to data hosting inside Pakistan, satellite-to-satellite communication thus bypassing terrestrial gateways, on which more technical details are being sought.
According to PTA officials, all relevant stakeholders are taken on board including MOIT to analyze the impact of utilizing Spectrum in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and refrained the company from booking any device orders from Pakistani customers through credit cards till granted the license by the PTA.
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