Musk’s Starlink launches in Malawi
Starlink has launched a satellite broadband service in Malawi, nine months after being granted a licence.
The internet service is being positioned as a catalyst for lowering internet service costs and increasing adoption in a country with one of the world's highest data costs.
According to Statista, Malawi has the third highest data costs after Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome.
Malawi's internet penetration rate was 20.2 percent of the entire population at the start of 2022.
SpaceX's satellite internet business, Starlink, is backed by South African-born billionaire Elon Musk.
Low Earth Orbit satellites from the firm are designed to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband internet in remote and rural locations throughout the world.
The Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority granted Starlink Lilongwe Limited the first-ever high-speed, low-latency broadband satellite internet service licences in 2022.
The 'speed and unlimited satellite internet service' launch in the South Eastern African country follows similar launches in Nigeria, Rwanda, Mozambique, and Kenya.
The service costs MWK52,000 (USD48.9) per month in Malawi, while the equipment costs MWK655,000. Starlink says users can expect ‘typical high speed internet with brief periods of intermittent service and high latency'.
According to Bram Fudzulani, an information technology analyst, the launch will increase rural internet connectivity.
He said: "We're going to have resellers of the internet , especially in rural areas who sell it to the rural masses at a cheaper price. But it also provides an alternative. We have seen over the years that some of the remote schools have not accessed the fastest internet and e-education has been almost impossible. We were not able to reach the remote communities because the fiber connection or cell phone coverage could not reach those areas.
"With the satellite, it means we can connect every corner and bridge the digital divide. I know it targets a certain bracket of people. When you look at affordability there will be other agents that can connect the communities by tapping into the technology."