Many 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.
Here are a few:
1. Misconception: Starlink is an outright competitor for mobile networks in Nigeria
Fact: Starlink’s arrival is a welcome addition to the ISP industry in Nigeria. The company boasts up to 230 MBPS, and is way better than what any mobile internet provider in Nigeria affords its users. However, the internet company is not yet a direct competitor for mobile networks like MTN, Airtel, and GLO.
This is because the installation rudiments and build of the Starlink hardware makes it targeted at a select audience. 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. Misconception: Starlink is cheaper compared to existing fibre optic internet providers in Nigeria
Fact: 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.
Except 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. Misconception: 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.