Thursday, April 18, 2024

ARGENTINA | 27-02-2024 12:13

Argentina authorises Elon Musk's satellite internet Starlink, rival Amazon Kuiper

President Javier Milei's government grants authorisation to Elon Musk's Starlink and two other competitors as rumours billionaire businessman will visit Buenos Aires ramp up.

Argentina's government on Monday gave authorisation for the deployment of Starlink, the satellite Internet service of billionaire businessman Elon Musk – a self-proclaimed fan of President Javier Milei.

In a decision published in the Official Gazette, Argentina's ENACOM telecommunications authority authorised Starlink but also its new competitor from Amazon, Project Kuiper, which is due to launch this year, and the London-headquartered OneWeb.

"This means... greater freedom, greater investment and greater competition in everything related to the satellite Internet market," Presidential Spokesman Manuel Adorni told reporters in Buenos Aires.

"In line with our openness to the world, the president decided through ENACOM to authorise the arrival in Argentina of the US companies Starlink and Amazon Kuiper, and the British company OneWeb," Presidential Spokesman Manuel Adorni told reporters in Buenos Aires.

"This means... greater freedom, greater investment and greater competition in everything related to the satellite Internet market," he added.

Adorni said the move would bring internet connectivity to "companies and people for whom, for whatever reason, other technologies don't allow" such access.

In a post on social media network X – which is owned by Musk – President Milei indicated the move would anger Grupo Clarín, a major telecommunications player and Argentina's largest media conglomerate.

According to the Starlink website, its satellite Internet service will be available in Argentina in the second quarter of 2024.

The news comes amid growing rumours that Musk intends to visit Milei in Buenos Aires next month.

Musk congratulated Milei on his election last November, saying on his social media platform X that "prosperity is ahead for Argentina."

Milei, after a telephone conversation with the billionaire in December, said he had thanked the billionaire for "defending the ideas of freedom."

An outsider elected on a wave of fury over the country's economic decline, Milei – a self-described libertarian "anarcho-capitalist" – has devalued the peso by over 50 percent, cut tens of thousands of public jobs and halved the number of government ministries since coming to office.

He has vowed to restore economic stability but has warned people that things will get worse before they get better.

Musk in Argentina

Musk, the South African-born founder of SpaceX and Tesla, is planning a visit to Buenos Aires in March, according to reports.

The billionaire has been invited to attend a masterclass about digital technology reportedly named “Líderes TECH.”

On social media networks, Musk has previously expressed his interest in visiting Salta Province, where he plans to invest in lithium exploration via a “mega factory.” The owner of X (formerly Twitter) is interested in lithium because of its prominent use in electric cars made by Tesla. 

Considered by Forbes to be the wealthiest and most powerful man in the world, Musk's relationship with Milei has developed in recent months.

In a sweeping mega-reform package that changed or repealed more than 300 regulations, released within days of taking office, Milei specifically name-checked Starlink in a Decree of Necessity and Urgency (DNU) announcing the liberalisation of rules for satellite Internet services. Milei mentioned the private foreign company as part of the justification for the presidential decree.

Starlink has been in operation across a large part of South America for several years. Most recently, the company launched in neighbouring Paraguay. Musk himself posted a message his X account to mark the occasion, announcing that “Starlink is now available in Paraguay!”

Starlink provides high-speed, low-latency Internet from space. The company provides connection speeds of between 150 and 500 megabits per second. It boasts an excellent signal from any point in its covered territories, no matter how inhospitable they may be, the company claims.

In the United States, a basic service has a one-time cost of US$599 for antenna installation and a monthly service charge of US$120. Estimated costs in Argentina are projected to be much lower. In Brazil, Starlink’s monthly charge is US$58 and US$612 for installation. Chile’s monthly fee stands at US$57 with an installation fee of US$570. 



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