Satellite internet access provider updates regulatory authority on plans to connect Pakistan to its global network
The chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Monday assured support to officials of satellite internet access provider Starlink “in line with regulatory framework” for the organization’s future plans in the country.
According to a statement issued by the PTA, Chairman Maj. Gen. (retd.) Amir Azeem Bajwa and the executive director of the Frequency Allocation Board met Starlink Middle East and Asia Director Ryan Goodnight and Head of Global Site Acquisition Ben Macwilliam at the regulator’s headquarters in Islamabad. It said that the two sides exchanged views on the provision of satellite broadband connectivity in Pakistan, and Starlink’s future plans to connect Pakistan to its global network.
“The [PTA chairman] apprised Starlink’s representatives about [Prime Minister Imran Khan]’s vision of Digital Pakistan and the prospects in Pakistan’s evolving market for quality broadband internet,” it said, adding that the organization was assured of the PTA’s support “in line with regulatory framework” for Starlink’s operations in Pakistan.
Starlink, operated by SpaceX, provides satellite internet access through over 1,600 satellites in low Earth orbit. While it is technically feasible to offer the service globally, actual service can be delivered only in countries that have licensed SpaceX to provide service within their specific national jurisdiction. As of November 2021, the beta service offering is available in 21 countries, with plans for further expansion.
In addition to plans to expand to Pakistan, Starlink is also aiming to start offering its services—over the next year—to India, Japan, Philippines and Nigeria. This is in line with SpaceX’s stated objective of offering internet services to underserved areas of the planet, as well as competitively priced services in urbanized areas.
On Tuesday, after their meeting with the PTA chairman, Starlink’s Goodnight and Macwilliam met Information Technology Minister Syed Aminul Haque and I.T. Secretary Sohail Rajput. According to a statement, they discussed the facilitation available to the private sector for investment in Pakistan and also acknowledged that Pakistan needed strong satellite-based broadband in areas that could not be reached by fiber-optic cables.
Starlink Pakistan has already been registered in the country, and expected to open an office in the country shortly.
The statement said that the I.T. minister had noted that demand for broadband internet was on the rise in Pakistan due to over 40,000 schools, and small and medium enterprises scaling up their digital presence. It said that the Starlink delegation was briefed on the Balanced Space Satellite Regime of Pakistan, which will facilitate the satellite services.