SpaceX applies for a Nigerian telecom licence as it looks to deliver internet to rural areas. SpaceX wants to bring high-speed internet to the country via satellite. Starlink is the company’s capital-intensive project aiming to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites designed to deliver high-speed internet to Nigerians.

Broadband penetration of 70%, which covers 90% of the population, is the Federal Government’s target in its National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025. Elon Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company has applied for a licence from Nigerian Communications. As first reported by Nairametrics, SpaceX’s application for a telecommunications licence was disclosed by Mr Ryan Goodnight, SpaceX’s Starlink Market Access Director for Africa, in a meeting with NCC’s Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, on Friday, 7th of May 2021 in Abuja.

According to Ryan Goodnight, SpaceX is seeking a licence for its Starlink startup, which aims to leverage an extensive network of hundreds of low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites to all corners of the world, with Nigeria identified as a critical market in Africa. Ryan also disclosed that SpaceX has been in discussion with NCC virtually over the past several months to begin the process of pursuing all necessary licences to bring Starlink, its satellite-based broadband services, to Nigeria.

He added that the commission granted SpaceX’s request for a face-to-face discussion to understand the prospects better. SpaceX’s application has garnered some supportive submissions to the regulator after providing an overview of their plans, expectations, licensing requests and deployment phases. The NCC, however, noted the need to ensure healthy competition with other players in the telecoms space, especially with the introduction of new technologies.

“We have listened to your presentation, and we will review it vis-à-vis our regulatory direction of ensuring effective and a sustainable telecoms ecosystem where a licensee’s operational model does not dampen healthy competition among other licensees,” the NCC said in a statement.

The NCC further stated its interest in making necessary regulatory efforts to drive the broadband penetration of 70%, which covers 90% of the population in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025. This is also in line with its National Digital Economic Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2010-2030.

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