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India says not to preorder Starlink until it obtains a license

India says not to preorder Starlink until it obtains a license


The Department of Telecommunications told Starlink to stop selling preorders

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An image showing a Starlink dish
Photo by Nilay Patel / The Verge

India has instructed the public not to preorder Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite-based internet service, according to a report from Reuters. As the report notes, the Indian government says that the company needs to obtain a license to operate in the country before it starts deploying its services.

“Public is advised not to subscribe to Starlink services being advertised,” a tweet from India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) reads. The DoT also says it asked Starlink to refrain from “booking / rendering the satellite internet services in India.” In other words, Starlink will have to put preorders on hold until it can get approval from the Indian government.

Starlink faced scrutiny from the Indian government in April, when the DoT began examining whether Starlink’s beta rollout broke any of India’s telecom laws (via Economic Times). As noted by Economic Times, the DoT’s move came as the Broadband India Forum (BIF), an independent policy forum that represents Big Tech companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, pushed the DoT to stop the presale of Starlink devices without a license.

Reuters states that since Starlink officially registered its business in India on November 1st, it has already seen over 5,000 preorders in the country. There’s no word on whether the existing preorders will be canceled, or if customers will just have to wait a little longer. Starlink plans to deploy 200,000 devices in India by 2022, with 80 percent located in rural areas (via Reuters).

Right now, Starlink has around 140,000 beta users in 20 different countries, as reported earlier this month by PCMag. Musk predicts that there will be over 500,000 Starlink customers within the next year.