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Starlink gives different prices and download speeds to different markets

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Starlink
Starlink

GSMA has revealed that downloads on Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service is not the same for all markets and that explains why prices differ significantly across markets, including Africa.

For one, Starlink packages is most expensive in the US and cheapest in Zambia and a few other countries simply because the download speeds differ in all the different markets.

The standard plan on Starlink, which is meant for residential customers, is standard in name only as far as different regions of the world are concerned.

For example, the monthly service cost for Starlink’s standard plan in Zambia is R666, R1 604 cheaper than the same package in the US. Differences in upload and download speeds as well as latency add some complexity to a direct price comparison.

“Starlink has median download speeds greater than 100Mbit/s in 14 countries, greater than 90Mbit/s in 20 countries and greater than 80Mbit/s in 24 countries — with only three countries failing to reach 70Mbit/s,” said the GSMA, the global mobile telecommunications industry association, in a blog post.

This means users from different countries are not getting exactly the same service, which suggests they should not be paying the same price either.

TechCentral has therefore put together a table, which shows that countries that are geographically close to each have similar pricing – for example, Malaysia and the Philippines at R872 and R897 each, respectively.

However, individual pricing is not as interesting until compared to the average cost of internet in a particular country. The average cost of internet used in the table, supplied by a company called Numbeo, is based on a 60Mbit/s service with unlimited data.

In the US, Starlink users can expect to pay close to R1 000/month more than they do for fibre. By contrast, the difference in Italy is just over R200 while it is less than R150 in Germany.

Starlink could capture more mass market clients in these countries because their service is so closely matched with more traditional internet providers.

In other regions, however, higher prices are likely to push those with options away, attracting only those in remote areas where there are no other services available.

Country Hardware Hardware Service (/month) Service (/month) Average cost of internet (/month)
North America
US US$599 R11 332 US$120 R2 270 R1 337
Canada C$499 R6 827 CA$140 R1 915 R1 173
Mexico MX$8 300 R8 650 MX$1 100 R1 140 R539
Europe
UK £499 R11 441 £75 R1 719 R691
Germany €299 R5 969 € 50 R998 R858
France €450 R8 983 € 40 R799 R590
Italy €450 R8 983 € 50 R998 R550
Portugal €450 R8 983 € 65 R1 298 R708
Spain €450 R8 983 € 65 R1 298 R648
Asia
Japan ¥55 000 R6 937 JP¥6 600 R832 R598
Philippines PHP28 000 R9 299 PHP2700 R897 R631
Malaysia MYR2 300 R9 116 MYR220 R872 R472
South America
Brazil R$2 000 R7 596 R$184 R699 R385
Peru PEN875 R4 282 PEN 193 R940 R540
Colombia COP1 320 000 R5 982 COP210 000 R952 R446
Australia
Australia A$599 R7 189 A$ 139 R1 688 R1 040
Africa
Nigeria N299 500 R7 193 ₦38 000 R913 No data
Kenya KSh89 000 R11 196 KSh6 500 R818 R672
Malawi MK655 000 R10 707 MK52 000 R849 No data
Zambia ZW10 744 R9 285 ZW 771 R666 No data
Mozambique MT40 492 R14 519 MT3 000 R1 075 No data
Rwanda RWF485 000 R7 507 RWF48 000 R743 No data
Reunion €450 R8 993 €70 R1 399 No data

 It comes as no surprise that Starlink is more expensive than the average cost of internet in most of the regions where the SpaceX subsidiary operates.

This is because Starlink does not aim for the mass market, where providers of terrestrial internet services have established economies of scale that have helped push prices down.

Instead, Starlink aims to fill gaps where terrestrial internet infrastructure such as fibre and mobile broadband networks cannot reach. Often these are isolated regions where the cost of rolling out terrestrial internet is higher than the return on investment.

Ghana

Starlink has announced on its website that it will go live in Ghana this quarter, but regulators say they are still engaging the company and that the coast is not yet clear for Starlink to roll out their services in Ghana.

Some industry watchers think no regulatory hurdles can stand in the way of Starlink if they decide to roll out on the back of the SpaceX satellite and turn X (formerly Twitter) into a payment platform for billing purposes without connecting to any local payment platforms.

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