SpaceX doesn’t always get a warm reception when it expands Starlink. Reutersreports the Indian government has told Starlink to immediately stop “booking/rendering” satellite internet service in the country until it has a license to operate. The SpaceX division registered as a business in India on November 1st and has started pre-orders, but doesn’t yet have permission to run the service. Authorities have also discouraged would-be customers from signing up at this stage.
We’ve asked SpaceX for comment, although it initially declined Reuters‘ inquiries. The company hasn’t set a firm date for Starlink’s India debut, although it’s aiming for 200,000 connections in the country by the end of 2022. There were over 5,000 pre-orders as of November 1st.
Starlink is currently available in 21 countries in mostly public beta tests. However, SpaceX has a particularly strong incentive to serve India as soon as possible. India has a very large rural population (over 898 million, according to World Bank data). It’s a prime market for satellite broadband, and the Starlink team hopes 80 percent of devices sold in India by late 2022 will serve rural areas. However, it’s now clear India’s government doesn’t share that same enthusiasm.