Elon Musk’s Starlink service is available in South Africa through international roaming.
- South Africans can already access Starlink’s internet services despite the fact that the company has not obtained a license to operate in the country.
- Thousands of South Africans already use Starlink, due to its global roaming feature.
- One local company, which operates as an offshore company importing kits and managing accounts on behalf of customers, says it receives 10 to 20 orders a day.
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While Starlink is not officially available in South Africa because it does not yet have local regulatory approval, thousands of people are already using the company’s satellite internet connection due to its international roaming feature.
Starlink is a satellite Internet provider owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, which provides worldwide satellite Internet access through its fleet of satellites in low Earth orbit.
In order for the customer to take advantage of his Internet, he must have a Starlink set, which provides an antenna for receiving a signal from satellites, as well as a Starlink Wi-fi router.
Starlink is not officially licensed to operate in SA, however, As first reported by MyBroadbandSouth Africans can use Starlink by getting a roaming package in a country where it is authorized to operate, and then simply making use of the services at home.
one company, IT Lec based in the Northern Capebegan importing and managing Starlink clusters on behalf of South Africa.
IT Lec principal and investor, Moritz Coetzee, told News24 that they have provided access to Starlink to about 1,700 customers so far and are receiving about 10 to 20 requests for blocks a day.
Coetzee said the company has tested importing the kits from many different countries but now gets most of them from the United States, where most of the inventory is located. This reduces waiting time.
The Company is not a provider of Starlink, but operates as a third-party company that imports and manages accounts on behalf of customers.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is responsible for regulating companies operating in the electronic communications services industry and is responsible for issuing operating licenses to these companies.
in April, ICASA confirmed to TechCentral It has met twice with SpaceX, but the company has not yet applied for a license.
News24 has reached out to ICASA to understand its current position regarding Starlink’s licensing, but the regulator had not responded as of the time this article was published.
But in other countries on the continent, including Rwanda, Nigeria and Mozambique, SpaceX operates under license, and earlier this yearSpaceX has launched a new roaming package that allows customers to take their connection anywhere.
This allows for portable use of the Starlink kit, which in theory means that the Starlink kit can be installed in a vehicle and used anywhere. The antenna provided to users with the roaming package is more powerful than the standard antenna.
There are regional roaming packages that allow users to use their Starlink groups on the continent as well as packages that enable users to access Starlink services worldwide.
Speed and spending
Coetzee said IT Lec charges R15,000 for the hardware, which includes taxes and courier costs, and then charges R1,799 a month after that. Infrastructure theft and the impact of load shedding on their towers in the Northern Cape prompted the decision to move some of their existing customers to Starlink, which Coetzee described as a “game-changer”.
“We’ve seen that this is the only way to get people back in touch because everything else is for nothing.”
He said the download speed South Africans get with Starlink is on average 50Mbps (megabits per second) and 200Mbps, although it fluctuates a lot.
He said the upload speed is more stable at around 15mbps to 20mbps.
James Coetzee, Co-founder of Quick Connect Wirelessreports similar speeds, and his company has a partner in the UK that provides Starlink roaming kits for people, some of which are used in SA.
He says the benefits of using the service are clear.
Starlink is a global satellite service and is not bandwidth-based, so if you have a ground station, you can connect to the network regardless of your location and local license.
“It’s plug-and-play so you can basically pull over in the middle of nowhere, turn on your satellite, point it skyward and you’ll have internet,” he said.