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Discussions between Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and SpaceX to allow Starlink satellite broadband services in the country have reportedly been postponed.

Starlink satellite broadband services in Thailand offer fast and reliable internet access, particularly benefiting rural areas with limited connectivity. They provide high-speed internet, quick deployment, and competition in the market, potentially improving service quality and pricing. Overall, Starlink's services have the potential to bridge the digital divide and drive economic growth in Thailand.

According to a report (citing sources familiar with the matter) SpaceX held several meetings with MIC officials in the second half of 2023 to discuss Starlink's entry into the Vietnamese market.

However, talks halted when the MIC made it clear that the government would not relax SpaceX's foreign ownership limits.

Vietnam's existing telecoms law, established in 2009, limits foreign ownership in telecom companies with network infrastructure to a maximum non-controlling stake of 50%. In November 2023, parliament approved a revised telecoms law that maintained the existing limits.

Earlier this month, a draft decree to implement the 2024 telecoms law in July included a requirement that foreign satellite service providers ensure that all traffic generated by satellite subscriber terminals in Vietnam passes through a local ground gateway connected to the public telecom network.

According to reports, the MIC expresses concern that cross-border satellite communications may pose a risk, with data from Vietnamese internet users potentially being collected abroad and used unlawfully.

Currently, it is unclear when talks between SpaceX and the MIC will resume.

During the talking period, Starlink was concurrently engaged in a pilot project with Vietnam's coast guard. This project leveraged Starlink satellites to guide drones patrolling crucial maritime regions such as the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. However, with the suspension of negotiations, the pilot project has also been halted.

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