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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Fear of sanctions, Musk willing to provide Starlink services to Iran

Musk did not specify from which country Starlink would seek exemptions, but Iran faces broad based sanctions.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Monday that the company will ask for an exemption from sanctions against Iran to provide the firm’s Starlink satellite broadband service in the country.

Musk made the statement on Twitter at a time of widespread protests in Iran over the death of a woman in police custody. Some people on Twitter asked Musk to provide the satellite-based internet stations.

Access to social media and some content is tightly restricted in Iran and internet monitoring group NetBlocks reported “near-total” disruption to internet connectivity in the capital of the Kurdish region on Monday, linking it to the protests.

Iran’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology could not be immediately reached for comment. The foreign ministry, Iran’s mission to the United Nations and the United States Bureau of Industry and Security did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Musk did not specify from which country Starlink would seek exemptions, but Iran faces broad based sanctions.

Read more: Musk’s Starlink registers company in India, targets rural areas

SpaceX is aiming to rapidly expand Starlink, and it is racing rival satellite communications companies including OneWeb and Amazon.com Inc’s yet to launch Project Kuiper.

Competitors and their work

In 2019, Jeff Bezos and Amazon announced similar plans. It was reported that Amazon plans to release up to 3,236 satellites for worldwide access to the internet. However, their main focus was on providing internet to ‘unserved and underserved communities around the world’. Some reports reveal that Facebook is also in the works to build such a satellite.

A 2013 analysis found competing providers with latencies of around 638 milliseconds – 20 times slower than wired networks. They offer an average speed of 30 megabits per second, although rural Americans claim it can be much lower.

Read more: How Elon Musk’s starlink helped Ukraine restore its internet services?

Nonetheless, Elon Musk is the only one yet with concrete plans on SpaceX’s satellite broadband. Musk has impressive plans to launch up to 30,000 satellites dedicated to distributing internet access worldwide. Beyond offering eager consumers a sneak peek at the latest technology, Starlink’s beta test could answer the question of whether the plan will be a success.

Reuters with additional input by GVS News Desk