Elon Musk’s satellite internet firm, Starlink, has announced plans to launch in Kenya in the second quarter of this year. This move marks the company’s expansion into the African market and is part of Starlink’s mission to provide internet access to remote and underserved areas around the world.
The company’s entry into Kenya will be faced with stiff competition from some players in the business. Safaricom, the leading internet service provider in Kenya, 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. The company uses satellites to provide broadband internet across the globe, much like 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 customers on its fixed internet plans could expect speeds of between 20 to 100 megabits per second (Mbps), while for business customers, the realistic expectation numbers double to 40-220 Mbps.
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. With the launch of Starlink in Kenya, customers can expect a reliable and affordable internet service that will help bridge the digital divide in the country.
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. This is a significant step towards achieving the company’s goal of providing internet access to people in every corner of the world.