Vodacom Tanzania has welcomed Starlink, the world-famous internet service provider, saying it is not, at all, an enemy or threat to them, but rather offers an opportunity for partnership.
Starlink’s services are set to be available in Tanzania during the current first quarter of 2023, with the company’s owner Mr Elon Musk saying they are just waiting for the government’s approval.
Operated by SpaceX the satellite internet constellation has been providing internet connectivity using thousands of satellites in space that communicates with designated ground transceivers. Vodacom’s network director Andrew Lupembe said last week, “This is a positive development that sets a stage for partnership.”
“What we mean is that these are different use cases, they will provide broadband internet, while Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s) provide a variety of services from broadband internet, voice, SMS, mobile money and so on.”
Mr Lupembe was reacting to Mr Mike Coudrey, big entrepreneur and investor in the US. In his tweet a few days ago Mr Coudrey said, “the lobbyists and major internet and phone providers are doing all they can to hinder Starlink’s approval in Tanzania because that would mean consumers would switch to the better service.”
But the claims were played down by Mr Lupembe, saying Starlink is coming to do business in the country whereby they in some cases may need to partner with local service providers as they might not be able to deploy everything on their own. “They will need either MNO’s or Internet Service Providers as partners to help them reach whatever place or audience they are targeting,” he added.
It is on those grounds that Vodacom is saying for them it will be an opportunity to have Starlink in the country, because they can also partner with them as they have done with Eutelsat, a French Satellite Internet provider to reach the underserved areas.
Mr Lupembe cited some areas that they made it to serve through partnership with Eutelsat as tourism camps within the National parks and Game reserves where without these satellite operators, maybe we wouldn’t have our presence.
On the other hand, last year Vodacom launched the country’s first 5G network which is in line with their ambitions to further expand their network coverage and support the country’s agenda to build a digital society. Right now, according to Mr Lupembe, the company is busy making sure that the fastest 5G internet reaches every part of this country.
“Players like Starlink will be a key component in achieving 80 percent broadband coverage by 2025 as per the government’s ambitions,” he concluded.
The government, for its part, wants Musk’s broadband provider Starlink to meet the remaining requirements before it is allowed to operate in the country.