Starlink, the satellite internet provider launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is highly anticipated in French Polynesia. A petition has even been launched in favor of its implementation in the islands.
Starlink operates through a constellation of thousands of low Earth orbit satellites, providing reduced latency and high-speed internet to subscribers. It aims to meet the growing demand for bandwidth for streaming and gaming.
When you subscribe to Starlink, you receive a kit containing an antenna, modem, and cables, allowing you to assemble and access internet via satellite.
Although Starlink is eagerly awaited in French Polynesia to provide internet access to the most remote islands, it requires authorization. This authorization has been obtained in mainland France through the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal Services (ARCEP). Starlink has been officially available in France since May 10, 2021. It is also authorized in several Pacific countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and the state of Hawaii.
In Wallis and Futuna, a French territory, the population is rushing to get kits from the American operator, as reported by Le Monde. However, Starlink is not yet officially authorized in these islands.
Moetai Brotherson, the President of French Polynesia responsible for digital affairs, emphasizes the need to be cautious and regulate Starlink’s arrival to ensure fair competition. The concern arises from the potential competition Starlink poses to the local internet service provider, OPT, which is already facing challenges.
Christophe Bergues, Director of OPT, argues that French Polynesia is not behind schedule in deploying fiber optic infrastructure, with 64,900 out of 80,000 households currently equipped with fiber. However, discussions are ongoing with Starlink and its European competitor, OneWeb, to distribute high-speed internet in areas where direct or indirect cable connections are not available.
If Starlink successfully establishes its presence, the pricing of subscriptions will still need to be addressed, as it can vary depending on the region. In mainland France, there are currently 10,000 subscribers, with the cheapest subscription costing 40 euros (approximately 4,800 FCFP) when purchasing the kit for 450 euros (around 54,000 FCFP), or 50 euros (about 6,000 FCFP) per month for rental.
Overall, Starlink’s arrival in French Polynesia has the potential to provide improved internet access to remote areas, but careful regulation and competition considerations need to be taken into account to ensure an equitable and viable solution.