Musk’s Starlink Malaysia still has to comply with licensing conditions, says Fahmi

KUALA LUMPUR: Although the Elon Musk-linked Starlink Malaysia has been allowed to operate in the country as a 100% foreign-owned entity, it is still required to comply with the necessary licensing conditions under the law, says Fahmi Fadzil(pic).

The Communications and Digital Minister said any exception to equity ownership must be accompanied by clear and convincing justification for consideration by the ministry as well as the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

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"As a licensee under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588), Starlink Malaysia is still subject to and must comply with the licence conditions.

"(These include) the requirement to ensure the security of information, network reliability as well as its integrity by adhering to security standards, codes, directives, and the guidelines issued under relevant laws," he said in a parliamentary written reply to Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam).

Dr Wee had asked the ministry to provide the reason behind the easing of the foreign equity ownership requirement and the issuance of a 10-year operating licence to Starlink Malaysia.

He also wanted to know the impact on the country's national cybersecurity policy and the estimated cost for the utilisation of the Starlink project.

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Fahmi also noted that the same consideration had been given to three other companies operating with 100% foreign equity, namely NTT MSC Sdn Bhd, AT&T Worldwide Network Services (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd, and BT Systems (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

"These three companies also operate globally in several countries and still hold licences under Act 588 to date.

"Therefore, the approach of allowing 100% foreign equity ownership is not a new one and has been implemented since as early as 2010," added Fahmi.

He said several factors were considered before granting the licence to Starlink Malaysia, including addressing the internet coverage gap especially in rural areas.

"To ensure that the services provided by Starlink Malaysia do not compromise the country's economic sovereignty and support the inclusivity concept for all Malaysians in promoting the digital economy, engagement sessions have been conducted with the Defence Ministry, National Cyber Security Agency, Malaysian Space Agency, Home Ministry, Investment, Trade and Industry Ministry, and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority," said Fahmi.

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The government, through MCMC, will conduct a proof of concept (POC) for the installation of Starlink satellite devices in 40 selected locations nationwide.

"This aims to assess the feasibility of providing Starlink broadband services as an initial solution to address connectivity issues in areas... including schools, universities and remote locations," Fahmi added.

He said MCMC has obtained 10 units of High-Performance (HP) Starlink kit devices with a priority subscription package for one year from Starlink Malaysia, for the purpose of the POC at several initial locations.

"The Starlink HP device package with a priority subscription allows users to achieve a maximum download speed of up to 350Mbps and upload speed of up to 40Mbps.

"The acquisition cost for this Starlink satellite service is valued at RM190,841," he said.

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