The Vanuatu Intellectual Property Office (VanIPO) has confirmed that Starlink have registered its trademark in Vanuatu and are in the process to obtain its broadcasting licence.
Starlink will be now in contact with the relevant Government Agencies including Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC), Vanuatu Foreign Investment Promotion Authority (VFIPA) and the Department of Customs and Inland Revenue (DCIR), to ensure it complies with all relevant laws of the country.
Once these legal formalities are fulfilled by Starlink, the Telecommunications Radio Communications and Broadcasting Regulator (TRBR) will issue a licence that will permit Starlink’s operations in Vanuatu.
However, Vanuatu people are already using Starlink despite the company not being approved to operate and before they registered their trademark with VanIPO due to its faster, smoother web browsing.
The accelerated rates Ni-Vanuatu experience makes it possible to access websites and services more quickly, stream content in HD, and use applications with less lag time.
This is especially helpful for people who live in rural areas because they frequently lack access to high-speed internet, allowing them to fully enjoy all that the internet has to offer.
A few people have alerted the TRBR that they are Starlink users, and the TRBR has been collaborating closely with customs to check all incoming equipment.
With that, the TRBR have also warned that any of the company’s equipment brought into the country would be confiscated until it gets a licence.
According to Radio New Zealand, Starlink did not know how this could have happened and they have no idea of what’s going on or why people are bringing their devices to Vanuatu.
They believed people possess the devices from either New Zealand or Australia and it to Vanuatu.
During the aftermath of the two past cyclones Kevin and Judy, reports states that an Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) officer of the World Food Programme (WFP), pre-configured and activated 10 satellite connectivity terminals loaned to the government of Vanuatu by Starlink to facilitate communications in the emergency response.
The Pacific ETC officer also trained technical staff from the National Disaster Management Organisation (NDMO) on the configuration, activation, and maintenance of the terminals.
On April, the Pacific ETC Officer also travelled to Ambae and installed a Starlink terminal at the PENAMA Provincial Emergency Operation Centre (PPEOC), as well as in Tanna, which was prioritised by the NDMO.
The TBRB has clarified via a statement that their office is not mandated by law to restrict or block any international companies such as Starlink to enter Vanuatu’s market.
However, the TRBR Act mandates that any telecom companies interested to operate in Vanuatu must obtain a telecom licence from the TRBR office.
The licence can only be granted by the TRBR if the registration process for a business licence is completed and approvals are certified by the VFIPA, VFSC, and DCIR.
The TRBR office is not required by law to set a deadline for Starlink to complete its registration, nor in the position of Starlink or its Agent to provide an update of its registration with other Government Agencies. The question on when will Starlink will get its broadcasting from TRBR depends on its registration with VIFPA, VFSC, and the DCIR.