Starlink applies for an ISP license in Indonesia

According to Indonesia's communications ministry, Starlink has also obtained the necessary VSAT permit to run the VSAT hub and station equipment that it already built in the country.

Gigi Onag, Senior Editor, APAC

April 5, 2024

3 Min Read
Facade of Starlink building in Redmond, WA
(Source: Ian Dewar/Alamy Stock Photo)

SpaceX has applied for an Internet service provider (ISP) permit for its Starlink satellite unit from the Indonesian government, with Starlink set to conduct Internet service trials at the new capital city Nusantara, which is scheduled to be inaugurated later this year.

Local media reported yesterday that the country's communications ministry expects Starlink will soon be able to offer business-to-consumer Internet services in Indonesia once the company has complied with other regulatory requirements. The company has had a local base of operations in the archipelago since 2022.

The Indonesian government earlier removed the restriction that barred foreign-owned companies from investing in the country's satellite-based telecom services. It now allows foreign companies like Starlink to own 100% of the shares in companies active in this sector.

Besides applying for a license to operate as an ISP, the communications ministry said that Starlink has already obtained the necessary VSAT permit to run the VSAT hub and station equipment that it already built in the country.

According to Wayan Toni Supriyanto, director general of Post and Informatics at Indonesia's Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo), as a condition of obtaining the two permits Starlink has to perform operational testing at the new capital city of Nasutra within the year.

Wayan estimates that the entire trial could be completed this year, allowing Starlink to soon deliver satellite-based Internet services to local users.

Focus on remote areas

Meanwhile, Communications and Information Minister Budi Arie Setiadi reiterated the government's commitment to business equality among players in the telecom industry.

"Therefore, when the Starlink satellite telecommunications service starts selling to retail customers in Indonesia, Kominfo will monitor its operation," Budi told local media.

Wayan pointed out that while Starlink will be joining a level playing field, its existence will not be a threat to local mobile operators because its services would be largely targeted at remote areas of the country.

"Perhaps, the Starlink satellite telecommunication service for retail will compete on an equal footing with local Internet service providers. The selling prices may be the same. The distribution of Starlink satellite telecommunication services is more suitable for remote areas and industries, especially the mining industry," said Wayan.

Expansion into Southeast Asia

Starlink established a presence in Indonesia nearly two years ago through its local unit PT Starlink Services Indonesia, which has an ongoing partnership with Telkomsat. The company provides backhaul services in the operation of a closed fixed network of PT and Telkom Satelit Indonesia.

By providing backhaul services, Starlink supports the provision of 4G cellular services, especially in rural areas that are not yet connected directly with fiber-optic cables.

In applying for an ISP permit in Indonesia, Starlink further cemented its expansion into Southeast Asia.

In July 2023 Malaysia approved Starlink to operate in the country and connect remote locations, while SpaceX signed an agreement with a local partner in December 2022 for Starlink to provide satellite broadband service to businesses and the government in the Philippines.

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About the Author(s)

Gigi Onag

Senior Editor, APAC, Light Reading

Gigi Onag is Senior Editor, APAC, Light Reading. She has been a technology journalist for more than 15 years, covering various aspects of enterprise IT across Asia Pacific.

She started with regional IT publications under CMP Asia (now Informa), including Asia Computer Weekly, Intelligent Enterprise Asia and Network Computing Asia and Teledotcom Asia. This was followed by stints with Computerworld Hong Kong and sister publications FutureIoT and FutureCIO. She had contributed articles to South China Morning Post, TechTarget and PC Market among others.

She interspersed her career as a technology editor with a brief sojourn into public relations before returning to journalism joining the editorial team of Mix Magazine, a MICE publication and its sister publication Business Traveller Asia Pacific.

Gigi is based in Hong Kong and is keen to delve deeper into the region’s wide wild world of telecoms.

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