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Elon Musk’s SpaceX has confirmed Starlink is coming to Zimbabwe this year. South Africa’s date is still unknown

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.

Speed

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.

Setup cost

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?

20232024Unconfirmed launch window
Angola (Q2)Botswana
Algeria
BeninBurkina Faso
Chad
BurundiCameroonCentral African Republic
CongoCape Verde
Djibouti
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
ComorosEritrea
eSwatiniEgyptEthiopia
GabonGambiaEquatorial Guinea
Kenya (Q2)
GhanaGuinea
MalawiGuinea-Bissau
Lesotho
MauritaniaIvory Coast
Libya
MauritiusLiberiaMadagascar
Morocco
NamibiaMali
Mozambique (Q2)
São Tomé and Príncipe
Niger
NigeriaTunisia
Sierra Leone
Rwanda
Uganda Somalia
SenegalSouth Africa
SeychellesSouth Sudan
SomalilandSudan
Tanzania
Togo
Western Sahara
Zambia (Q2)
Zimbabwe

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33 thoughts on “Elon Musk’s SpaceX has confirmed Starlink is coming to Zimbabwe this year. South Africa’s date is still unknown

  1. But will government allow local internet providers to effectively be nudged out of business? Starlink can easily get a monopoly with this kind of pricing. Unless there are some other costs that they will have to incur (tax? royalties?) which will bring their prices in the range of local MNOs.

    1. I think they should let them compete in an open market. Some of these provider offer terrible service while charging an arm and a leg. Competition is good for the consumer

      1. It’s has to get a license , recruit Zimbabweans , pay 2%tax and 5% tax for telecoms, then Universal Service fee of 1.5% and regulatory fee of 2%, then Zimra Corporate Tax over 20% so if you add all these , then the price goes up to where everyone is

    2. As Zimbos we should understand that a lot of our services are overpriced. Before you think about local ISPs, ask yourself, “do they think about you?”

      VSAT used to be affordable to banks and NGOs mainly. New players is the VSAT arena helped bring those prices down.

    3. So many businesses will be created with good internet service. The govt can make a lot more money if they take a long term view that this will lead to wealth creation rather than the short sighted view that Zimbabweans should continue to be overcharged for what is now an essential service.

  2. What great news!! And thanks for reporting and updating us on this.
    Would you know if POTRAZ will be requiring a separate user fee for this service or do the current VSAT users require to obtain a separate permit?

    Also what would be ZIMRA duty rate apply for getting the ordered Starlink equipment?
    Thanks again for reporting on all relevant tech and digital news!

  3. Taxes also contribute to the very high tariffs. Cheap or free data should be made available as a tool for a country’s development. How much are people paying for the basic WhatsApp in the developed first world countries, what of in the developing and underdeveloped countries? People in most undeveloped countries are made dull and ignorant by design so they are subservient, and no data or exorbitant data charges siphoned these to where they are wanted to be. In addition to food aid, should there be NGOs who give data as aid? Data will become a right and will be free.

  4. Thank Space Daddy Musk! Its a shame we didn’t get the same sweet $99 deal for the kit as Nigeria, but those who can afford will be getting a service at the pinnacle of current quality

    1. Something must be going on the back end as Starlink is having to negotiate terms to operate in these countries, one of which will likely be a requirement to comply with ‘Lawful Orders’ from Gov.

    1. Don’t think Elon is big on remote work these days! All of the vacancies I saw are for specific sites where they have offices. If you’ve got the goods, some companies will help you out with the visas and stuff. Go to http://www.spacex.com/careers , select the relevant Starlink department from the “Browse Categories” menu, select a job, read the info and apply (some documentation may be required)

  5. I already have a terminal and tested it last week. Was getting about 2 mbps up and down. Probably just a test signal. Hoping I will be one of the distributors in Zimbabwe

  6. It’s has to get a license , recruit Zimbabweans , pay 2%tax and 5% tax for telecoms, then Universal Service fee of 1.5% and regulatory fee of 2%, then Zimra Corporate Tax over 20% so if you add all these , then the price goes up to where everyone is.

  7. This is not a game guys, Starlink is a military weapon, they’ll use this to threaten African leader’s in the future so that we abide to USAs evil acts and goals.
    We shouldn’t support anything from USA right now until further notice.

    1. Well, Silicon Valley has always been, and is still on the United States. It is because of the United States that we are able to use various devices, and you have communicated using technology that was developed from the US. Starlink is the South African born Elon Musk, he is also SpaceX and Twitter. He hustles just like most of us and there is no reason for some people to run away from their shadows.

    2. Ayaaah🤦such thinking mentality leaves us in the 1300 century. You just typed and sent your message using technology which was developed in the USA apa using a 4G or 3G technology apa the whole world. Go and live in a cave.

  8. Starlink should not officially launch in Zimbabwe,but they should setup base in S.A then will smuggle the equipment and setup here like how we use open view decoders and pay subscription DSTV in South Africa

    1. It would be nice, but we’ll have to see if it makes sense. If you order the home kit, you can enable Portability for an extra $25 on top of the $110 each month you need it, but if they detect that the dish hasn’t been at it’s registered (eg SA) address for 2 months, they will automatically update your account address to the current location. You can also get the RV kit (exact same hardware, different account parameters). It will work on the same continent as the registered address where there is coverage, but the subs are $135 and you get lower priority for connection speed. You can also pause billing, great when its cabbage time!

  9. Starlink should not only be compared to VSAT, it should be comparing to our current fibre setup. The price of Starlink is 1000 times cheaper than dedicated fibre MPLS, MPLS dedicated is as high as 400 USD / Mbps. The current state of Zimbabwe internet is like the early mobile sim days, where the price of a sim card was the same as buying a cow. The price of sim cards was close to 1000 times that of the rest of the world. The Speed for Starlink is way faster than our fibre packages, the highest home package we have is 100Mbps from Liquid, these speeds have not changed for close to a decade. In SA they are testing 10Gbps to the home. SA 1Gbps to the home is less than 100 USD. Starlink is going to cause local operators to reduce their prices as well as improve their speeds.

  10. A number of Zimbabweans are now working online as Affiliate Marketers, Forex Traders, e-commerce, remote workers etc.. It’s a game changer for our Country 👏

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