Starlink in Ghana? Yes, even though Elon Musk has shut down the Twitter Africa office in Ghana, his Starlink internet service is coming to more African countries.
Last year, Elon Musk announced that Starlink had received approval to launch in Nigeria and Mozambique. While its launch plan in Nigeria was silently delayed, users who pre-ordered began receiving their kit in December 2022.
This week, the internet service provider also announced plans to set up in Kenya.
Now, the service is coming to even more African countries. According to the service’s availability map, 20 more countries, including Zambia, Senegal, Morocco, and Angola are scheduled for a 2023 launch.
Sixteen countries—Uganda, Tunisia, Ghana and Egypt inclusive—are scheduled for a 2024 release while 18 more countries have unconfirmed launch windows.
Meanwhile, the question about the affordability of Starlink for Africans remain unanswered.
SpaceX started the launching of Starlink satellites in 2019. As of now, Starlink which is owned by Elon Musk consists of over 3,000 mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit which communicate with designated ground transceivers or “receivers”.
Starlink provides internet access to over 500,000 subscribers as of June 2022.
Technically a division within SpaceX, Starlink is also the name of the spaceflight company’s growing network of orbital satellites or “constellation.” The development of that network began in 2015, with the prototype satellites launched into orbit in 2018.
In the years since, SpaceX has deployed thousands of Starlink satellites into the constellation across dozens of successful launches, the most recent of which took place on Oct. 27 and delivered another 53 satellites into low-Earth orbit. That brings the total number of satellites in orbit to just over 3,200.
What speeds should you expect from Starlink’s internet service?
According to the internet speed-tracking site Ookla, which analyzed satellite internet performance during the third quarter of 2022, Starlink offered average download speeds of approximately 53Mbps in the US. That’s down significantly from the end of 2021 when Starlink had median download speeds of just over 100Mbps. Still, the results are nearly double those for satellite rival Viasat and just shy of triple the median numbers of HughesNet. Still, Starlink falls well shy of the numbers for the entire fixed broadband category, which includes satellite and other forms of delivering connectivity to peoples’ homes.
“Users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50 to 150 megabits per second and latency from 20 to 40 milliseconds in most locations over the next several months,” Starlink’s website says, while also warning of brief periods of no connectivity at all. “As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically.”
To that end, Musk tweeted in February of last year that he expected the service to double its top speeds to 300Mbps by the end of 2021. In 2022, such claims are difficult to evaluate, as speeds will vary depending on time and location. Significantly, Starlink recently announced plans to enact a data cap to try to mitigate some of the issues caused “by a small number of users consuming unusually high amounts of data,” Starlink said in an email to customers.
In 2021, CNET’s John Kim signed up for Starlink at his home in California and began testing it at various locations. At home, he averaged download speeds of around 78Mbps and latency of around 36ms. You can see more of his first impressions in this article’s video embedded higher above.
How much does Starlink cost?
Starlink is now accepting orders on a first-come, first-served basis, so you’ll need to request service, put down a $99 deposit, and then wait your way through the backlog. During its beta in 2021, Starlink said that some preorders could take as long as six months to fulfill — in some regions, Starlink now says that new orders may not be fulfilled until late in 2023.
The service was initially billed at $99 per month (plus taxes and fees) and an initial payment of $499 for the mountable satellite dish and router you’ll need to install at home. In March 2022, despite earlier predictions from SpaceX executives that the hardware costs would come down over time, SpaceX raised those prices to $110 per month and $599 upfront.
$110 per month is a lot for an internet connection, especially one that isn’t nearly as fast as a fiber connection. Still, Musk is betting that the cost will be worth it for people who have thus far lived without access to a reliable connection.
In April of 2021, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that Starlink wanted to keep pricing as simple and transparent as possible and had no plans to introduce service tiers into the mix. However, that approach changed in 2022 with the introduction of a new premium tier with a scan array that’s twice as big as the standard plan and with download speeds ranging from 150-500Mbps. That tier costs $500 per month, plus an initial payment of $2,500 for the equipment. Starlink is taking orders for that tier now and will launch the service shortly.
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