New VSAT provider Stargaze, targets rural communities with low prices

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StargazeAs Zimbabwe’s internet industry gets increasingly competitive, a new VSAT internet service provider, Stargaze, has launched services in the country. In his communication to us, Stargaze Managing Director Chris Catto, said they are looking at rural communities as a key growth area for their company.

Stargaze launched services in December 2012 and are a brand of a company called Afriglobal. According to Catto, their services are supported by the HYLAS 2 satellite which beams Ka-band services over East and Southern Africa among other regions globally.

The actual charges of data services by the company are quite competitive even for urban folk. Offers start from US $52 for 2GB at a download rate down of 512 Kbps for light users, and go all the way up to $930 for 30GB of data at a download speed of 5 Mbps. Top-up bundles of 1GB go for $25. You can check out all the plans here.

Like other fixed broadband services however, the challenge to have customer adopt the service will be on the setup costs. VSAT particularly is a pricey type of internet to setup. One local provider for example, ZOL, charges an unattractive US $1,800 setup fee, the bulk of which goes into the equipment being supplied the customer. Stargaze charges much less – about a thousand dollars – but it’s a huge cost nonetheless. But where there’s no other option, this may be cost that has to be faced.

Back to the target market; Catto says many rural communities have slow or no connectivity because fibre just hasn’t reached these areas. With satellite the company can provide “instant” connectivity without the need for terrestrial networks he explains. Catto also refers to research that has shown that more than half the population live beyond 25 km from a fibre network and have no access or limited access to the internet.

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“It is clear how Ka-band satellite can help to narrow the digital divide much faster than any other technology,” asserted Catto. The relatively new Ka-band, he says, is providing fast and affordable opportunities that didn’t exist with other satellite technologies; C-band and Ku-band that is.

“Zimbabwe has a significant addressable market and satellite broadband can make a genuine difference in empowering businesses and individuals. There is huge opportunity here and the benefits of satellite delivered Ka-band technology are ideal to meet these requirements,” explained Catto.

The company says it has signed up businesses, private individuals and schools since launch. They have also apparently had considerable interest from government organisations particularly around policing and crime prevention. Competition for the company is from about 15 licensed Internet Access Providers and other general internet providers, most of which offer VSAT service also. Stargaze’s low setup rates and significantly low data prices may be the company’s main advantage right now in competing with the other players.



19 Comments

  1. Joe Black says:

    Conspicuous by their lack of installation & hardware charges. Neeext

    1. me says:

      was charged $1100 for install, $50 for 6GB 512kb speed

  2. Rayavo says:

    Very awesome packages i must say. It is sad to note the unbalanced nature of reporting by the author of this article. I noticed that ZOL was the only competitor mentioned there as well as equipment pricing etc. It would have been informative if you had provided full details on all Vsat providers not only ZOL and Stargaze but al players.

    In as much as you provide us with Tech News, we wish that you perhaps move towards balanced reporting and not denigratory kind of reporting because thus far it seems you personally have an issue with ZOL. Needless to say what other benefits do the new players provide better than the current players? If at all you may shed more light and promote the new guys and not denigrate the experienced players so as to get free internet etc.

    1. sbl says:

      Back to work Rayavo ZOL only give you a one hour lunch break..lol

      0

      1. Rayavo says:

        You got it baby.

    2. Free internet? We buy our internet and we refuse to get it for free from anyone, unless specifically for a test/review, and even then.

      Costs of equipment with the other players that use Ku-band is probably the same or around the same that ZOL charges, however, the other players don’t show their prices on their websites like ZOL does. This makes these other players difficult to reference because we like linking to the information we reference.

      The end of the article does mention though that competition is really from the other 15 IAPs. If what you are referring to is a detail comparison of what each of the 15 charge for VSAT setup, that is a whole separate article.

  3. Zim is really a cash cow…$52 for 2GB…Lord have mercy!!!

    1. member says:

      apa kumusha. maboarding school arikurohwa cash kumisha uku. but i think thats business. tomorrow you guys want investors and these are the same people you approach and loath while they are making the same money where we think (out of our top notch analysis bith quantitaive and qualitative) there is no money

  4. Gator says:

    Have a look at http://www.gatorzw.co.uk for pricing, packages and out of peak time usage which does not go against your cap.

    1. Who is who guys? So many domains… afriglobal.com, gatorzw.com, gaterzw.co.uk and your “actual” name is Stargaze! Whats the story?

      1. Gator says:

        Gator is a reseller of Afriglobal services which include Stargaze their latest Ka-Band service offering

  5. Fourwallsinaroom says:

    Fair enough new competition. But for about $951 I can get a CIR 128Kbps/128Kbps unlimited from Liquid. These guys do not mention contention which i presume is probably close to 1:40. Thanks but no thanks….oh not to mention the fact that you will probably shape my data!

    1. dino says:

      And you are saying yours is a good deal?

      1. Fourwallsinaroom says:

        Yes because its unlimited! and the contention is 1:1 (CIR anyone)

  6. vaGudoguru says:

    The more the merrier!

  7. who in the rural areas has $1000 to spend on internet. look at the title of the story.

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