Ok. So the question of whether or not Starlink will work in Zimbabwe even though it’s not officially available yet has been answered. It works and the speeds are pretty good. Now the question is how does one buy it and use it in the motherland. In this piece, I will be giving you all the essential details you need to know before parting with your dollars.
Where and how do I buy it?
The best place to buy your Starlink kit is on the Starlink website or through any of their authorized resellers if you wish to buy it from a physical store. You can click here for a list of all the Starlink Authorized resellers. The more relevant ones for Zimbabweans are resellers with an African presence which include:
- Marlink who has a presence in Nigeria under the name ICT Global Nigeria
- Speedcast has a presence in Algeria, Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa.
How much is it?
The kit will cost the equivalent of US$583.49 in Nigeria and US$515.45 in Rwanda. This excludes any transaction charges of your preferred mode of payment, Shipping costs for the kit to be delivered to the Nigeria or Rwanda address, and shipping and duty costs to deliver this kit to Zimbabwe.
The monthly subscription for the Roaming service will be the equivalent of US$52.52 in Nigeria and US$52.99 in Rwanda and subscriptions will be deducted from the bank account used to purchase the kit. So just like your Netflix subscription, you will need a card that can work online for you to purchase the kit and pay the monthly subscriptions.
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How do I get the kit to Zimbabwe?
You can use a courier service like FedEx, DHL, or UPS to get it from Nigeria or Rwanda to Zimbabwe.
If you have someone who frequents Rwanda or Nigeria they can buy it, set it up, and bring it for you. Knowing Zimbabwe there is probably someone working on a business venture to make this process easier.
What do I do so it works in Zimbabwe?
When buying your kit I would recommend that you use the Starlink portal to purchase your kit. From there you must ensure that:
- You select Roam
- You select either a Rwandan or Nigerian address
- Make sure you initially set it up in either Rwanda or Nigeria before bringing it to Zimbabwe.
- Check your account to ensure you are on the Roam package before bringing the kit to Zimbabwe
It is very important to note that Starlink’s roaming service will only allow you to use the kit in a different country than the one it was activated in for TWO MONTHS. After these 2 months, the service will be disabled and you will need to send the kit back to the country where it was activated and use it there for you to get the 2-month roaming access renewed. You don’t pay any additional fees on top of your monthly subscription for this renewal.
If you use Starlink Roaming Services for more than two months in a country that is different than your shipping address, Starlink may require you to move your registered address to your new location. Starlink does not guarantee when or where Starlink Roaming Services will be available. Starlink Roaming Services are dependent on many factors, including obtaining or maintaining the necessary regulatory approvals which are subject to change.Starlink Roam terms of service
How many users does Starlink support?
The bundled router that comes with the kit supports up to 128 devices connected to it. However, it is a terminal and so if you require more users for applications in an office or school setup you can just expand the network to allow for as many devices/users as you desire.
Ordinarily, such large-scale applications are better served with the Starlink Business package however Roaming is not available on Business packages so as much as Roaming can work for an office or school, it’s not really geared towards that. Some performance issues will be faced when the number of connected devices exceeds 128.
Service coverage and performance
Starlink is a VSAT service meaning the service coverage is 100% of Zimbabwe. There is no area too remote for it to work. The download speeds are amazing and in the region of 100+Mbps according to tests done in Zimbabwe. However, the upload speeds are not at all great. The best we have seen so far is 6.5Mbps. So if you frequently upload large files or make frequent backups of large files to the cloud, Starlink is not ideal for that. You are still better off with fiber.
Starlink has a Fair Usage Policy for roaming. The first is that the roaming service is Best Effort meaning they will not guarantee consistent download speeds. In their terms of service, they quote 5-50Mbps download speeds and 2-10Mbps Upload speeds. How we are getting 100+Mbps download speeds is still a mystery.
The other is that there is a 1TB data cap. After this, you will start experiencing slow speeds similar to what Liquid Home unlimited subscribers experience. On standard and business packages you can purchase additional data at US$0.25 per GB to get the regular speeds back. This is however not possible on roaming packages that you will be on for those outside of the countries where Starlink is active.
Will Starlink send ISPs out of business?
Starlink is a fixed internet service that is going to complement the already existing Fiber, ADSL, and Fixed LTE service providers we have available. MNOs are not at all affected since you cannot use Starlink whilst in motion unless you are not on land and on the Maritine package.
As good as the download speeds are, the upload speeds are terrible and so if your requirements are predominantly packing up files to the cloud or uploading content to the internet. These applications are still better served by Fiber or LTE/5G which have much better upload speeds.
It is also affected by weather and obstructions so if the cloud cover is heavy or it is raining, you will experience a degradation in service the same way you do with DStv. Both use similar methods of operation.