Elon Musk’s Starlink internet service officially became available in Kenya on Tuesday, July 18. The billionaire celebrated the launch with a tweet, highlighting Starlink’s global roaming options.
The satellite internet service is expected to offer competition to market-leading Internet Service Providers (ISPs) including Safaricom and Wananchi Telcom-owned Zuku.
However, the launch revealed some drawbacks for users in Kenya.
An attempt to order Starlink in Kenya leads to a disclosure by the company on the not-so-great internet you can expect for now, with Starlink promising that service would improve “dramatically” over the next year.
Starlink cautioned users that the internet service in Kenya would not be able to support video calling or online gaming.
“Starlink is currently available in your area using inter-satellite links,” the company stated.
“You can expect Starlink’s typical high speed internet with brief periods of intermittent service and high latency. Users will be able to engage in common internet activity like email, online shopping, or streaming a movie, but they won’t be able to engage in activities like online gaming or video calls. Service will improve dramatically over the next year,” it added.
Orders are scheduled to begin shipping in 2-3 weeks. The inability of Starlink in Kenya to handle the requirements of heavy internet users who might regularly require online video calls or gaming makes it a less attractive option for that segment, compared to fiber offered by ISPs such as Safaricom and Zuku.
This is especially considering the comparatively much higher initial setup cost for Starlink. Kenyans will need to fork out Ksh89,000 for the hardware kit and Ksh6,500 as a monthly subscription fee, as well as shipping fees.
Major ISPs in Kenya offer fibre packages targeting heavy internet users, offering them an edge. The planned improvement of Starlink speeds could, however, be a gamechanger.