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SpaceX's Starlink gets approval for Korean business
US space firm’s internet service expected to launch in 2nd quarterBy Kan Hyeong-woo
Published : May 14, 2023 - 15:19
The Ministry of Science and ICT has completed the registration of Starlink Korea, a local subsidiary of US space company SpaceX, as a common telecommunications business.
According to the ministry on Friday, the government decided to grant the license to the US company after it reviewed its financial and technical capabilities, and plans to protect users, as part of the registration requirements under the Telecommunications Business Act.
SpaceX filed for business registration with the ministry in January to offer satellite internet services in Korea. The US firm established Starlink Korea in Seoul and appointed Ashley Dreyer, SpaceX's senior director of Starlink business operations, as its representative in March.
The ministry said SpaceX and Starlink Korea will sign a service supply agreement. Once the terms are set, the Korean government will carry out the approval process of the agreement. Starlink's website showed Sunday that its internet service is expected to launch in the local market in the second quarter of this year.
SpaceX began the Starlink service in 2020. The internet service is available in over 50 countries with the space firm operating about 4,000 low-orbit satellites. The number of active subscribers to the service surpassed 1 million in December 2022, according to SpaceX.
The impact of Starlink Korea on local established telecommunication carriers -- SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus -- is expected to be marginal as the three companies already have service networks reaching all parts of the country.
The price of Starlink could be an obstacle for residents here. In Japan, a monthly subscription costs 6,600 yen ($49) and the standard hardware costs 36,500 yen, according to its website. Korean companies’ internet services are offered between 20,000 won ($15) and 40,000 won.
Starlink Korea is expected to target the business-to-business market in the maritime and aviation sectors instead of focusing on individual subscribers.
Last month, industry sources said Starlink was seeking to work with local telecom giants by offering to sell its satellite internet service. No announcements on a partnership with the US firm have been made.
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