Elon Musk’s tech firm eyes Kenya entry by June


Elon Musk’s satellite Internet firm Starlink will be launched in Kenya in the second quarter of this year. PHOTO | AFP

Elon Musk’s satellite Internet firm Starlink announced it will launch in Kenya in the second quarter of this year, posing competition to other players in the industry including Safaricom and Zuku.

The billionaire technology entrepreneur’s company announced it is “pending service coverage or regulatory approval”.

Kenyans, however, can order and deposit an amount of Sh12,260 ($99) which is fully refundable to get the service if approved.

“Order now to reserve your Starlink. Starlink is targeting service in your area starting in Q2 2023. Availability is subject to regulatory approval. Within each coverage area, orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis,” the company said on its website.

The multinational said it is targeting Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Nakuru among other towns in starting from the three months ending June.

The company’s entry into Kenya will be faced with stiff competition from some players in the business.

Safaricom is the leading Internet service provider in Kenya and has spent billions of shillings over the past five years on building its fixed-data network to connect homes, amid growth for online streaming services like Netflix.

The current Internet service providers mainly offer connectivity via fibre optic cables, over Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

Starlink, an offshoot of Mr Musk’s space technology firm SpaceX, on the other hand, delivers Internet from satellites.

Starlink uses satellites aimed at providing broadband Internet across the globe, much in the manner through which the global positioning system (GPS) provides location data to cell phones around the planet.

Unlike GPS, it requires thousands of satellites for service to work without drops in coverage.

“Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency service is made possible via the world’s largest constellation of highly advanced satellites operating in a low orbit around the Earth,” the company says on its website.

The firm will be targeting corporate customers to buy high internet speed internet.

At the end of last year, Starlink said that its American standard customers on its fixed internet plans can expect speeds of between 20 to 100 megabits per second (Mbps), while for business customers the realistic expectation numbers double to 40-220 Mbps.

Elon Musk's SpaceX keeps adding Starlink coverage over new countries and regions, while continuously notching new commercial customers as it got the green light to provide satellite Internet on moving vehicles like recreational vehicles, boats, yachts, or cruise ships.

The plan to venture into Kenya comes at a time when the demand for high internet speed for streaming, video calls and online gaming is on the rise due to digitization and expensive data charges.

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