Elon Musk kicks off a storm even before launching Starlink in Nigeria

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  • Starlink is an internet company owned by America’s billionaire Elon Musk.
  • The company targets to service five per cent of internet users in the world, inclusive of Africa’s biggest economy.
  • Starlink expects to start operation by the end of the year 2022.

It is about to go down in Nigeria!

This is if data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is anything to go by. The data from this independent National Regulatory Authority for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria shows that two of the country’s telcos have lost over 1.37 million data users.

This is after Starlink, an internet company owned by America’s billionaire Elon Musk, revealed that it was planning to invest in the Nigerian internet service market. MTN and 9mobile have been the biggest casualties.

Read: Nigeria attracts Africa’s highest Foreign Direct Investments beating South Africa, Angola

Despite the hopes, questions abound if Starlink will manage to address the issue of unstable internet service in Nigeria and if it will be a game-changer in the industry.

The Starlink receiver. [Photo/CEO Business Africa]
A statement from Starlink says that the company will kick off its operation in Nigeria next year.

Starlink, a daughter company of SpaceX, had its recall representatives tour Nigeria in May 2021 to discuss with the stakeholders of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

They held discussions reportedly focused on the licensing and operations plan of Starlink in Nigeria’s telecommunications market.  The company targets to service five per cent of internet users in the world, inclusive of Africa’s biggest economy.

According to Ripples Nigeria, Starlink expects to start operation by the end of the year 2022 with orders being fulfilled from the first to the last respectively in each coverage area, with its availability still subject to approval by the concerned parties.

The company estimates to use US$20 billion to US$30 billion to fulfil its five per cent global internet provision plan, having already spent an amount between US$5 billion and US$10 billion in the launch of their 1500 satellites.

Elon Musk projects to hit half a million subscriber base by next year, as Starlink currently boasts of 69,000 active users.

Starlink is getting in the game which already has players like Airtel, MTN, Glo and 9mobile for subscribers who are already struggling to harmonise the increasing cost of living and the dwindling purchasing power caused by inflation, lack of jobs and underemployment in the current jobs.

Elon Musk. [Photo/CNBC]
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In a survey in August 2020, Nigeria sits at the 81st position out of the 85 countries in offering cost-effective internet service in the world with South Africa, Kenya, Morocco and Tunisia being ahead of the country.

Subscribers in Nigeria have criticized the internet cost complaining about the soaring depletion rates, which internet providers have alluded to the quality of service. This has created a highway for other foreign network providers like Starlink to venture into the Nigerian market.

The quality of Starlink’s service

Starlink says that data speeds and latency will range from 50 to 150 Mbps and 20 to 40 ms in most locations over the next several months.

The company plans to launch more satellites, build more ground stations, and improve its networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will significantly improve.

Musk said that by the end of this year, 2021, the service speed will reach up to 300Mbs which in comparison to the average Internet speed in Nigeria, it is a massive improvement.

Currently, the service can theoretically delimit more than 150Mbps internet speeds in any place as long as the customer is under a clear sky.

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I have 10 years of experience in multimedia journalism and I use the skills I have gained over this time to meet and ensure goal-surpassing editorial performance. Africa is my business and development on the continent is my heartbeat. Do you have a development story that has to be told? Reach me at njenga.h@theexchange.africa and we can showcase Africa together.

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