Starlink ordered to switch off its high speed satellite internet service in Zimbabwe


Starlink is disabling its high speed satellite internet service to Zimbabwe at the request of authorities, the American company said in e-mails to customers.

Starlink, whose internet service is now available in over 70 countries, is not licenced to operate in Zimbabwe but that has not stopped locals from acquiring kits from neighbouring countries including Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

“You are currently using Starlink from unauthorised territory. As a result, Starlink has been directed by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to disable your service,” an e-mail sent to Zimbabwean subscribers of the service said.

Starlink, a product of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, said it would “continue to work with POTRAZ to obtain necessary regulatory approvals to turn on Starlink services in Zimbabwe as soon as possible.”

POTRAZ maintains that it has not received Starlink’s application to provide internet services in Zimbabwe. On its website, Starlink says its service in Zimbabwe will start in the third quarter of 2024 – between July and September.

Zimbabweans frustrated by low speed internet have been clamouring for Starlink to be licenced, but some government officials have voiced security concerns seeing the service as a threat to tight government controls of telecommunications services in the country.

Space exploration company SpaceX began launching Starlink satellites in 2019. By early March 2024, the constellation comprised more than 6,000 small satellites orbiting Earth at low altitudes.

Starlink users typically experience download speeds between 25 and 220 Mbps, with a majority of users experiencing speeds over 100 Mbps.

Many Zimbabweans see opportunity in Starlink with its ability to connect the remotest parts of the country to internet services, although the service is relatively expensive.

A kit comprising one Starlink dish, a dish mount, and a Wi-Fi router base unit costs between US$450 and US$500. In Zambia, which has licenced Starlink, customers pay US$36 monthly subscription for unlimited low latency internet. ZimLive.

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