The ambition of Elon Musk’s global satellite Internet service Starlink is to be available worldwide, said Starlink enterprise sales director Phillip van Essen at the Dwyka Tech*Carnival this week when questioned about the high-speed, low-latency broadband Internet service provider’s presence, or lack thereof, in South Africa.
“We prioritise the countries that make it easy for us to do business there, open entities and get regulatory approvals. We respect that every country has their own process . . . and have a dedicated team that is focused on regulatory efforts globally, including South Africa. We’re hopeful that we can resolve the issues and start service here soon, as well as in other [African countries].”
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa revealed last month that it had met with SpaceX officials over the possible launch of Starlink in South Africa, but the regulatory body said it had not received a formal licence application from the company.
Van Essen highlighted that, over two years, Starlink’s customer base had grown to 1.5-million in more than 50 countries globally, with 4 000 satellites deployed in space.
“We are online in Nigeria, Rwanda and Mozambique, with many more countries in the works. You’ll see those come online, as soon as we clear the hurdles in each country. As far as industrial applications go, we have a large interest in Nigeria, for example, in equipping trains with continuous Internet access.”
“So, if you think about the advantage of being able to deploy connectivity, in a matter of minutes, versus having to wait three or five months to get fibre installed, that allows you to open that business location a lot earlier and generate revenue sooner.”
Starlink’s satellite Internet service can also be used from a business continuity insurance perspective, providing a failsafe should a company’s fibre go down, to avoid issues with connectivity. The company’s terminals are also built to withstand all types of environmental challenges.
“We really focus on making a great product that provides [reliable] connectivity and allows our customers and partners, such as Dwyka, to integrate this into other solutions that they sell into specific industries or other more niche markets.”
The continuous challenge around leveraging local or remote metering to deliver real-time data for safety purposes, owing to connectivity issues at remotely located mining sites, was highlighted during a panel discussion on day one of the Dwyka Tech*Carnival by mining technology advocate for human-plus-machine solutions Dwyka Mining Services MD Jamie van Schoor.
The mining technology festival, hosted at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Gauteng, on May 17 and 18, was introduced by Dwyka to provide a platform where the mining industry could gather to talk about and engage with relevant technology through a fun carnival atmosphere.