Starlink, a satellite internet service by SpaceX (founded by Elon Musk), plans to launch and provide coverage in Africa by late 2021 and 2022.
Only Nigeria can expect the late 2021 launch, while other African countries should have access to Starlink satellite internet service in 2022. Tough to be part of the early users, you have to join the “Better Than Nothing” beta programme because it takes about six months to fulfil a pre-order. You can pre-order on the Starlink website for a refundable $99. The Starlink kit, which includes a mounting tripod, WiFi router, and terminal to connect to the satellites, costs $499.
It is also quite important to remember that coverage across countries would vary. Given that only about 1,300 satellites launched as of February, “users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50 Megabit per second to 150Mbps and latency from 20 milliseconds to 40ms… There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all”, Starlink annouced on its website.
The founder of SpaceX (the parent company of Starlink) Elon Musk, said that speed will double to ~300Mbps, and latency will drop to 20ms later this year. He added that Starlink targets most of the populated Earth by the end of 2021 and total coverage by 2022. Thereafter, it would be “about densifying coverage.”
It is Starlink’s goal to have about 42,000 satellites constellation in orbit by 2027. But the Federal Communications Commission and the International Telecommunication Union have approved only 12,000 of its satellites.
Satellite internet is best for low to medium population density areas. It can also provide internet access to areas where broadband is unreliable or unavailable. However, Starlink is currently too expensive for Africans with a monthly subscription of $99 (that’s about ₦37,000, which is more than the ₦30,000 minimum wage) and $499 (~₦190,000) for the Starlink kit. It will need regional price adjustments so that most Africans can afford it.