Elon Musk-owned SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service is expected to launch in Nepal in 2023. The company has talked with the regulator Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA). However, it appears that Nepal’s existing law will prove a major hurdle for the US-based company on its road to expanding its satellite broadband here.
Starlink reached out to NTA via a virtual dialogue earlier this week, NTA Chairman Purushottam Khanal has revealed. During the conversation, the company’s senior management team asked about the possibility of a hundred percent foreign investment in the project. Mr. Khanal said that the team said they would enter Nepal only on condition that they could make a total investment in the satellite internet service.
The Elon-Musk-inspired venture wants full investment for its service in Nepal for it wants complete control over its operation. Having a local investor or an investing company would necessitate a member on its board which could cause conflict in decision-making for the company. In states where it has expanded services, the company has boasted its own authority.
Due to the condition, it’s possible that Starlink satellite won’t switch on its internet service in Nepal. However, Mr. Khanal is in favor of the technology. He says that in countries with irregular geography such as Nepal, satellite internet would be a great advantage. He even said that he requested the company to prepare a proposal that adheres to Nepal’s prevailing laws and would submit it to the government.
Starlink will require only its infrastructure to start its broadband service in Nepal. It won’t even have to have an office in Nepal. It will only require having a contact person and feeding the necessary information.
Starlink has a plan
The company’s coverage map released last year highlighted its expansion plans including in South Asia. Nepal is included in the category where the US company has plans to launch the service. As of now, Starlink internet is available in 50 countries.
On the map, the company has divided its coverage into three categories – Available, Coming Soon, and Wish List. It shows that a large share of the US, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and South America have coverage. The company tweeted that countries marked “Available” will have the equipment “shipped immediately.”
Likewise, the map shows countries where SpaceX will soon roll out its satellite broadband service. This includes an entire African continent, parts of the US, India, and others. Nepal is in this same category. As per the company, these countries will get the Starlink connection beginning in 2023. Also read: Starlink Internet Active in Ukraine, Says Elon Musk
A report by the Rest of the World in April 2022 had shown that Starlink services are widely limited to the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. However, the company is working on its expansion plan and the map highlights its expansion plans.
As SpaceX mulls over its plan for Nepal, private company Kacific has already launched Nepal’s first-ever satellite internet service.
Satellite broadband internet is good for Nepal
Satellite internet is ideal in areas where fixed-line fiber internet can’t expand such as the remote Himalayas, and hilly regions in Nepal. But it seems Starlink’s plan could take time to launch its satellite internet in Nepal. It is working on launching a service in India while there are no tangible plans for it in China.
SpaceX provides satellite internet through its constellation of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. As of February 2023, there are over 3500 small fast-moving satellites providing satellite broadband service.
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