Malaysia has issued a licence to Starlink, the satellite communications service started by tech billionaire Elon Musk, to provide Internet services in the country, particularly in rural areas, according to Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

“I have recently handed over the license for facilities and network services to a representative from Starlink. This allows Starlink to provide satellite Internet services in Malaysia, especially in rural areas,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.

According to the minister, currently, 97 percent of populated areas in Malaysia have Internet access. However, the remaining 3 percent face challenges due to geographical locations, such as remote rural areas or isolated islands, making network infrastructure development difficult.

Therefore, Fahmi said the government is willing to collaborate with satellite internet service providers, including Starlink, to achieve 100 percent internet access in populated areas.

Hopefully, Starlink will begin their services in higher learning institutions and schools first, as announced by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim last week, he added.

The announcement comes after the virtual meeting between Anwar and Musk last week which included discussions about Starlink and Tesla.

Starlink, a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, provides high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe. Founded in 2002 by Musk, SpaceX is a spacecraft engineering company which designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft in a bid to “revolutionize” space technology.

With Starlink, users can engage in activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet, information from SpaceX’s website showed.

Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency service is made possible via the world’s largest constellation of highly advanced satellites operating in a low orbit around the Earth, the company claimed.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Musk’s electric vehicle maker Tesla has unveiled its sport utility electric vehicle, Model Y, in Kuala Lumpur, with deliveries to Malaysia to begin next year. Tesla said it will establish its head office and service centre in Cyberjaya, Selangor, Malaysia, which will serve as the central hub for all corporate operations, marketing, training, customer support activities and vehicle services.

Tesla will also establish its experience centers in key metropolitan areas across Malaysia, where customers can explore and experience the latest electric vehicle models first hand. It will also invest in setting up a network of fast-charging and regular-charging stations across strategic locations in Malaysia.

The government earlier this year approved Tesla’s application to import battery-run EVs into the country.

Malaysia PM Anwar Ibrahim discusses Starlink satellite service with Elon Musk