For those that are unaware, Starlink is a SpaceX project providing internet all over the globe. It works in the same way as VSAT in that you buy a piece of equipment that faces the sky and connects you to the internet via a satellite above you in space.
Starlink service will be available in Zimbabwe in 2023 with Zimbabwean neighbors Zambia and Mozambique getting it by the end of Q2 2023. Surprisingly there is no word on availability in South Africa yet and My Broadband reports that the delay could be related to a condition that to obtain an operating license in their borders, the business needs to have at least 30% black ownership.
South Africa’s telecoms regulator — the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) — previously told MyBroadband it would not issue any new licences to companies that are not 30% black owned, in line with new legislation for Internet service providers (ISPs).My Broadband
How does it compare to VSAT in Zimbabwe?
Starlink is another satellite-based internet service provider just like Zodsat, Utande, and Telco. The only difference is that all VSAT providers in Zimbabwe are using a 3rd party satellite provider, predominantly Eutelsat and Avanti. Starlink on the other hand is actually launching its own satellites into space which in essence means they are involved in the process end to end. Of course and some point the Starlink satellites will need to connect to a ground station to efficiently route the data, something regular VSAT also does.
In terms of speeds, you can get 50 to 250Mbps on Starlink Internet and Starlink RV (Mobile home) and 150 to 500Mbps on Starlink Business with all 3 variants having unlimited internet. For comparison, the fastest VSAT speed you can get from Zimbabwean providers is 25Mbps with upload speeds going as high as 6Mbps.
Monthly package costs
As for pricing, Starlink Internet is US$110 per month, Starlink RV is US$135 per month and Starlink Business is US$500 per month. Comparing it with the highest-spec VSAT packages available in Zimbabwe, it’s actually quite reasonable. Utande’s 120GB package is US$363, Liquid Home’s Unlimited package is US$554 (Using today’s interbank rate), TelOne’s Unlimited package (650GB) is US$600, Zodsat’s Unlimited package is US$455. On unlimited packages alone, Starlink looks like the best deal.
Equipment cost is where it gets interesting. It’s US$599 for Starlink Internet and Starlink RV and US$2,500 for Starlink Business. And these prices exclude shipping and duty. Comparing this to local providers:
- Utande – US$183 (Equipment hire) US$487 (US$350 equipment only)
- Liquid Home – US$1440
- Telco – US$700 (US$600 equipment only)
- TelOne – US$580 to US$1360
- Zodsat – US$450
Starlink setup is pretty easy and can be user-installed. It’s got a built-in motor in the antenna so it can automatically lock onto a satellite on its own. Those interested can pre-order by clicking here but be ready to pay a US$99 deposit.
When will Starlink be available in Africa?
|2023||2024||Unconfirmed launch window|
|Burundi||Cameroon||Central African Republic
|Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)||Comoros||Eritrea|
|Mozambique (Q2)||São Tomé and Príncipe||Niger|