Nigerians are pleased to see Elon Musk’s Starlink come into Nigeria as an upstart competitor to the established internet service providers in the country. The thought of Starlink providing faster internet speed at lower costs is quite exciting. However, there are a number of misconceptions which need to be cleared up concerning the introduction of the superfast Starlink in Nigeria.
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Here are a few:
1. Mistake: Starlink is a big competitor for mobile networks in Nigeria
Truth : The Starlink internet hardware is designed to be set up for homes or offices, whereas most Nigerians access the internet on mobile. This means that even if you have Starlink at home or the office, you will still have to subscribe for your mobile for the periods you are out of the office or at home.
To use the Starlink internet in Nigeria, you need to set up a satellite dish. As such, Starlink only provides geo-located internet access, unlike mobile networks like MTN and Airtel that provide internet access as long as you have your smartphone, SIM, and data in a network-covered area.
2. Mistake: Starlink is believed to be more affordable.
Truth : This notion is quite relative and can be one of the misconceptions if you’re not aware of the pricing of the Starlink installation and subsequent subscriptions in Nigeria. The one-off installation and hardware costs ₦274,098 ($595), while subsequent subscription is charged at ₦19,260 ($42) per month.
However, the conversion above was done based on the CBN’s rate of ₦460 – $1. However, the ban on dollar transactions on Naira cards means you’ll need a domiciliary account and dollar card to pay for the internet package, from hardware to subscription.
Unless you operate a dollar account and do not need to bother about the exchange rate, you’ll need to fund your domiciliary account with black market dollars, which are currently priced at ₦750 to $1. Therefore, you may end up paying as much as ₦450,000 for the initial setup. Your subsequent subscriptions will be in dollars, and so instead of paying ₦19,260 monthly, you may have to shell out ₦37,000 monthly for your Starlink subscription.
When compared to other fiber optic internet options in Nigeria at the moment, Starlink may be better with regards to speed and reliability, but it’s way more expensive , especially if you’ll be buying and subscribing with parallel market exchange rates.
Also, most optic fiber internet providers in Nigeria, while allowing you to pay in Naira, don’t cost that much, especially for installation. For example, Fibreone costs about ₦53,000 for installation.
3. Mistake: Starlink has come to liberate Nigerians from slow or terrible networks
Fact: Starlink is not currently targeted at everyday internet users/consumers in Nigeria. Starlink’s target audience includes the private bourgeoisie, companies, businesses, and tech individuals who want superfast internet speed for their operations and can also afford the installation costs in their residences and facilities, respectively.
For the regular Nigerian who just needs to access social media platforms and carry out regular internet activities, you may as well stick with your mobile internet provider or get a MIFI.
These factors notwithstanding, Starlink will still gain some customers from the service providers in Nigeria. This is evident in the number of people that are already placing orders for its kits and are ready to ditch their current ISPs.
Businesses and homes will also find relief in Starlink’s service, and likewise people in remote areas where other service providers have failed to deploy infrastructure. But for now, the mass market for internet service provisioning in Nigeria still belongs to mobile operators