Less than a year after Starlink launched in Kenya in July 2023, the number of users has multiplied more than tenfold, signalling fast adoption of the Elon Musk-owned internet service. Three months before the launch, the country had only 405 satellite internet users; that number grew to 1,354 two months after Starlink’s arrival and more than tripled to 4,808 in March 2024, per data from Kenya’s ICT watchdog, the Communications Authority (CA). 

Starlink’s high speeds of over 100 megabits per second (Mbps) have contributed to a growth in satellite internet use. Satellite internet services are particularly attractive to customers not served by traditional broadband providers such as Safaricom, and Telkom Kenya. These customers include niche corporate clients with needs beyond standard fibre or fixed broadband and residents in remote, “upcountry” locations where traditional infrastructure is lacking. 

“The launch of Starlink’s internet services in the country played a major role in driving the uptake of broadband services. Generally, the sector is expected to keep growing following the rollout of new technologies and services,” the report stated.

The data shows a shift in Kenyan satellite internet usage. Over 93% of users now use high-speed internet plans, ranging from 100 Mbps to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), which only Starlink provides. This is a significant change compared to traditional options, although most broadband users still use local internet service providers with lower speeds.

Only Starlink offers speeds above 100 Mbps, which implies that it has contributed to the sharp growth in satellite internet subscriptions in Kenya. Chart by Stephen Agwaibor, TC Insights

Starlink’s popularity has been accelerated by its ability to serve customers unsatisfied with the offerings of established players who prefer serving customers in urban areas. The company promised to provide broadband services beyond the reach of these traditional providers, and it has become a popular choice for this niche market.

While Starlink is Kenya’s latest major satellite service provider, there are other players, including Skynet and NTvsat, in the market. Safaricom, Kenya’s biggest telco, announced plans for a satellite service a year ago but hasn’t launched it yet.

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