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Cameroon’s Starlink Crackdown Continues After Service Suspension

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Tensions remain high in Cameroon following the suspension of Starlink internet services in the country on April 30th. Despite the discontinuation, Cameroonian authorities have continued their crackdown, seizing Starlink kits at the borders as the satellite internet provider lacks the necessary licensing to operate within the nation.

The ongoing seizures come amidst concerns from Cameroonian officials that Starlink’s entry into the market could pose a threat to the country’s national telecommunications and internet service provider, Camtel. Fongod Edwin Nuvaga, the Director General of Cameroon Customs, had previously issued a notice stating that the confiscation of Starlink equipment would persist until the telecoms regulator grants the necessary licenses and oversight.

“This type of technology, which allows for an unrestricted, ultra-fast internet connection, is not subject to the Telecommunications Regulatory Board’s oversight and thus poses a threat to national security,” Nuvaga’s notice read.

In addition to concerns over unfair competition, Cameroonian authorities have raised issues regarding fraudulent commercial activities, exploitation of Starlink terminals, and potential risks to personal data.

Starlink, on its part, had maintained that its regional and global roaming plans were intended for temporary use by customers who were traveling, not for permanent use in unauthorized areas. The company had warned that using a Starlink kit in an unauthorized region violated its Terms & Conditions, and subscribers who had been away from authorized locations for more than two months were required to either relocate or update their account country to avoid being disconnected.

The standoff in Cameroon mirrors the challenges Starlink has faced in various African countries, where regulators have imposed bans or restrictions citing licensing and regulatory compliance issues. While some nations, like Ghana, have recently approved Starlink’s operation, others, such as Zimbabwe, have threatened legal action against distributors and users found in the country.

As the dust settles from the April 30th service suspension, the ongoing crackdown in Cameroon highlights the persistent tensions between the desire for accessible internet connectivity and the regulatory frameworks governing telecommunications industries across the continent.

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