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Elon Musk’s Starlink Working Well In Zimbabwe

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Starlink is working well in Harare, Zimbabwe with impressive speeds of 131Mbps download and 2.83Mbps upload (although upload speeds are generally poor for all VSAT connections), according to Techzim.

Starlink is an Internet and high-speed connectivity service offered by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the spacecraft manufacturer and satellite communications company.

How Starlink works
Starlink operates a network of satellites at an altitude of 550km that provide worldwide coverage, with service divided into continental regions.

Africa has good Starlink satellite coverage, with Zimbabwe having up to four satellites passing over it at times, offering download speeds of over 100Mbps. However, the Starlink kit is region-locked, meaning that if purchased in the USA, UK, Nigeria, or Rwanda, it will only function in the respective country of purchase until activated for roaming.

Getting it to work in Zim

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The Starlink kit that was tested in Zimbabwe was purchased in the UK, set up there, and had global roaming activated before being shipped to Zimbabwe. Upon arrival, it was a simple process of connecting everything, setting up the wifi name, and allowing the kit to connect to a satellite – essentially a plug-and-play setup. Here is the process:

Purchase Starlink Roaming from a country where Starlink is available (A country from the same continent is highly recommended)
Select Regional roaming on the roaming option (Only if the country of origin is on the same continent as the destination country)
Set it up in this country of origin and run any updates needed.
In your account settings ensure roaming is active.
Ship it to the destination country (In this case Zim)
Set it up and run any updates.
The catch. Roaming is not cheap

Regional and Global Roaming for Starlink is similar to the roaming feature on mobile devices. Regional Roaming refers to the ability to use the service on the same continent, while Global Roaming allows access from anywhere in the world. However, roaming can be expensive, with monthly subscription costs varying based on the region.

The kit cost is the same at approximately US$599, but the monthly subscription fees differ. Below are the costs of the kit and roaming for select regions.

Country … Equipment cost … Standard subscription P/M … Regional roaming subscription … P/M Global roaming subscription P/M

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  • Nigeria … US$583.49 ………………….US$41.82 …………………….US$52.52 …………………………………………….. US$218.34 
  • Rwanda … US$515.45 ……………….. US$43.25 …………………….. US$52.99 …………………………………………….US$220.78
  • UK …… US$373.05* (US$572.01) …US$93.26 ………………… US$105.70 ………………………………………………US$248.70
  • USA …….. US$599 ………………. US$120 ……………………………. US$150 …………………………………………………US$200

*Currently there is a promotion in the UK where the equipment is discounted from the standard £460 to £300

The table indicates that subscriptions for Africa are a lot cheaper than those for the USA and the UK. Availability of Starlink is in a lot more countries than just these four but these are the ones most Zimbabweans will be interested in.

Roaming access lasts for 2 months
Starlink’s roaming service permits use outside of its registered country for a maximum of two months. Thereafter, the kit must return to its home country in order to reset the roaming and gain another two months. This indicates that, currently, the service is not a permanent solution for accessing Starlink in Zimbabwe or other countries where the service is not yet available.

US$53 for over 100Mbps of unlimited internet
If you are in Zimbabwe, it is recommended to purchase the Starlink kit from Nigeria or Rwanda, with Rwanda being the cheaper option. This is because Zimbabwe and these countries are in the same region, allowing for the Regional Roaming package with a monthly subscription of around US$53 for unlimited internet with download speeds above 100Mbps. In comparison, the cheapest unlimited internet package in Zimbabwe costs around US$241 from Liquid Home, with speeds at best up to 20Mbps or 20% of Starlink’s speeds. Buying the kit from countries outside of Africa will be more expensive due to the Global Roaming subscription, which starts at US$200.

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