Starlink is a satellite internet byservice that is revolutionizing internet access in Zambia and other parts of Africa. Starlink uses a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites to provide high-speed, uncapped, and affordable internet to areas that are often underserved by traditional internet infrastructure. Starlink is particularly well-suited for rural and remote areas where fiber optic cables, cell towers, or other terrestrial solutions are not feasible or cost-effective.
Starlink launched in Zambia on October 5, 2023, making it the sixth country in Africa to receive the service. The other countries are Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Malawi. Starlink’s entry into Zambia was welcomed by the country’s president, Hakainde Hichilema, who tweeted that access to technology and information is no longer a luxury for the people of Zambia. Starlink could help bridge the digital divide and provide millions of Zambians with high-speed internet for the first time, opening up new opportunities for education, business, and social connectivity.
According to the Starlink website, the service costs 10,744 Zambian kwacha ($505) for the hardware and 507 Zambian kwacha ($24) for the monthly subscription. Users can order their Starlink kits directly from the company’s website and install them themselves. The kit includes a satellite dish, a router, a power supply, and a tripod mount. The dish automatically connects to the nearest satellite and provides internet access via Wi-Fi.
Starlink claims that its service offers download speeds of up to 150 Mbps, which is significantly faster than most of the existing internet options in Zambia. However, Starlink also warns that its service is still in beta testing and that users may experience intermittent latency or outages. Starlink says that its service will improve dramatically over the next year as more satellites are launched and more ground stations are built.
Starlink’s expansion in Africa is part of its ambitious goal to provide global internet coverage by 2024. Starlink plans to launch thousands of satellites into orbit and eventually serve millions of customers around the world. Starlink hopes to democratize internet access and enable social and economic development in regions that have been left behind by the digital revolution.
Starlink’s comparison to other satellite internet services in Zambia.
Starlink is a new satellite internet service that aims to provide faster, more reliable, and more affordable internet than other satellite internet providers. Starlink uses a constellation of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites that are closer to the Earth than traditional geostationary (GEO) satellites. This reduces the latency, or the time it takes for data to travel between the satellite and the user, and increases the bandwidth, or the amount of data that can be transmitted per second.
Starlink has several advantages over other satellite internet services
Some of these advantages are:
Starlink promises speeds up to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps), which is much faster than HughesNet’s maximum speed of 25 Mbps and Viasat’s maximum speed of 100 Mbps. Starlink’s projected average speed is around 900 Mbps, which is comparable to some of the best cable and fiber internet providers.
Starlink does not have any data caps or throttling, which means that users can enjoy unlimited internet without worrying about running out of data or having their speeds reduced. HughesNet and Viasat have data caps ranging from 12 GB to 150 GB per month, depending on the plan. If users exceed their data limit, they may experience slower speeds or have to pay extra fees.
Starlink offers a flat monthly fee of $99 for its service, which is cheaper than some of the plans offered by HughesNet and Viasat. Starlink also charges a one-time fee of $499 for the equipment, which includes a satellite dish, a router, a power supply, and a tripod mount. HughesNet and Viasat charge similar fees for their equipment, but they may also charge additional fees for installation, activation, or leasing.
Starlink has a superior network performance and reliability than other satellite internet services, thanks to its LEO satellites that have less interference and signal loss than GEO satellites. Starlink also has more satellites in orbit than HughesNet and Viasat combined, which means that users have more coverage and availability. Starlink plans to launch thousands more satellites in the future to improve its service even further.
However, Starlink also has some drawbacks and challenges that may affect its quality and accessibility.
Some of these are:
Starlink is still in beta testing and is not widely available yet. Users have to sign up for an invitation on the Starlink website and wait for their area to be eligible for service. Starlink is currently available in some parts of North America, Europe, and Australia, but it plans to expand to more regions and countries by 2024.
Starlink may experience intermittent latency or outages due to weather conditions, atmospheric changes, or orbital adjustments. Starlink warns that its service may vary depending on the location and time of day and that users may need to adjust their dish or router settings to optimize their connection.
Starlink requires a clear view of the sky for reception, which means that users have to install their dish in an open area without any trees, buildings, or other obstructions blocking the signal. Users also have to make sure that their dish is not damaged or tampered with by animals, people, or natural events.
Starlink may face regulatory hurdles or legal disputes from governments, competitors, or other stakeholders who may oppose its operations or challenge its rights to use certain frequencies or orbital slots. Starlink may also have to deal with environmental or ethical concerns about the potential impact of its satellites on the space debris problem or the night sky visibility.
Starlink is a promising satellite internet service that offers faster speeds, lower costs, and better reliability than other satellite internet services. However, it is still in development and has some limitations and risks that may affect its performance and availability. Zimbabweans who are interested in Starlink should do their own research and compare it with other internet options before deciding whether to sign up for it or not, Techbooky Africa reports.