For anybody who is unable to get fibre internet or who is simply fed up with local internet service providers, there’s a new kid on the block. Technically it’s still arriving but we’ll get to that.
Starlink, the division of SpaceX that wants to beam internet to the ground via low Earth orbit satellites, is now available for pre-order in South Africa. Before you run off to sign up though, there are a few things to note.
When signing up you will be required to provide an email address and a physical address. This physical address is very important as Starlink explains.
“Starlink satellites are scheduled to send internet down to all users within a designated area on the ground. This designated area is referred to as a cell. our Starlink is assigned to a single cell. If you move your Starlink outside of its assigned cell, a satellite will not be scheduled to serve your Starlink and you will not receive internet. This is constrained by geometry and is not arbitrary geofencing,” Starlink explains in its FAQ section.
For the reason above, if Starlink is not available in your area, don’t try a different address (unless you live or work there) as you may end up wasting your money further down the line.
Once Starlink has checked whether your area will have coverage you will be sent to the pre-order page where you asked to make a deposit of $99 (~R`1 400) which is fully refundable.
And the fact the deposit is refundable is a good thing because paying a deposit does not “constitute an offer to sell or order Services or the Starlink Kit” according to Starlink’s payment terms. Hell, Starlink may never arrive in the country so at least you can get your deposit back.
With Starlink targeting coverage in our area in 2022, there’s still a bit of a wait before we know for certain that the ISP is coming to South Africa.
Should Starlink become available to use in South Africa, the firm will send you an offer. Here you will need to agree to the terms of service and complete your purchase.
That $99 deposit will be used to deduct from your monthly fee of $99, the hardware which costs $499 (~R7 344) and shipping fees according to Insider.
We should address the elephant in the room here – the cost.
At first shine R1 400 per month for internet is a lot but when you compare notes, Starlink has a tempting offer. Vodacom Business offers a satellite internet service that starts at R517.50 per month for 512kbps download and 128kbps upload with a 4GB data bundle. This goes up to R1 897.50 for a 4096kbps download and 512 upload with a 30GB cap. That solution also carries a R2 016.54 once-off installation fee.
By contrast, Starlink comes in cheaper than Vodacom’s most expensive solution and speeds range from 50Mbps to 150Mbps compared to Vodacom’s max of 4Mbps.
If all of this strikes your fancy then head to the Starlink website and place your pre-order.
[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]