Tue. Sep 26th, 2023
Zimbabwe Receives Starlink’s Application for Satellite Internet Services

Zimbabwe has received an application from Starlink, the satellite internet venture of SpaceX, for a license to provide satellite internet services. The application is currently under review by the Postal & Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ). Information Minister Jenfan Muswere expressed optimism that the application will be approved. Muswere emphasized the need for satellite technology to ensure connectivity across the country, particularly in remote areas where installing fiber-optic cables is not feasible. Starlink, owned by Elon Musk, has a network of over 4,000 satellites in low earth orbit and has already rolled out services in several African countries.

However, regulatory approval is still pending in many other countries, including Zimbabwe. While Starlink has announced plans to launch services in Zimbabwe by the end of this year, the final approvals from POTRAZ are yet to be granted. Starlink’s technology is seen as a solution for areas with limited internet connectivity, where traditional infrastructure installation is costly or challenging. In Zimbabwe, where mobile phone companies find it uneconomic to install towers in remote regions, Starlink’s broadband signals can provide faster internet speeds compared to the current average of 30 megabits per second (Mbps). Starlink’s satellites can deliver speeds of up to 200Mbps, six times faster.

However, the cost of Starlink’s technology is a concern. In Nigeria, for example, the upfront cost of the Starlink kit and installation is approximately US$600, with a monthly subscription fee of around US$43. Given the average income of Zimbabwean workers, affordability is a challenge unless non-governmental organizations and the government invest in the technology to bring connectivity to underserved populations. Internet services in Zimbabwe are already expensive, and the hope is that Starlink’s entry into the market will lead to more competitive pricing.