According to analysts, the entry of Elon Musk’s Starlink into the African Internet Service Providers (ISPs) space is expected to open up the rural economy widely, covering wide unserved areas.
Making its debut on the continent in Nigeria, Starlink will provide satellite Internet access coverage to rural areas after receiving two licenses - the International Gateway License and Internet Service Provider (ISP) from the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC ) last week.
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, providing satellite Internet access coverage to about 32 countries with an aim to cover the whole world. SpaceX started launching Starlink satellites in 2019 and as of May 2022, Starlink consists of over 2,400 mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), which communicate with designated ground transceivers.
In Nigeria, Starlink is asking consumers to order installation kits by making a $99 deposit. However, for a full kit that will include a terminal, mounting tripod, and Wi-Fi router, it will cost $599 and then $110 for preorder and monthly subscription. Its premium service costs about $2,500 for the full kit and $500 monthly.
The standard Starlink service costs offer up to 250Mbps with Starlink Premium offering a maximum of 500Mbps.
The big question now remains whether the targeted rural economy can afford this service. There is a big gap that Starlink is looking to occupy, on paper it makes a whole lot of sense, but when you start seeing those wonders you realize this might not be our unicorn.
Starlink costs $99. At least 40% of people in Nigeria barely make $1/day. Are there plans for a future concessions for low income countries? (Otherwise people in top 20%) are able to afford; which defeats the purpose of affordable Internet or all.
— Akinyemi M.A. (@theprincelyx) May 27, 2022
Regular folk like me will probably not afford the service, however, it is still a welcome opportunity for other startups and bigger companies who are targeting or based in the same rural market struggling with connectivity. Perhaps they can then redistribute the internet connection to the low-income earners in the locations.
Sometime between July and September this year, Starlink expects to go live in Mozambique as well.