How exactly will Starlink help Malawi?

©️ Urgent Comm

If you didn’t already know, news has it that Starlink is coming to Malawi. But several people have since asked me exactly how Starlink will help Malawi?

The questions include ‘How is it going to improve Internet connectivity in Malawi?’ ‘Is it going to bring prices down?’ ‘Is it going to increase penetration rates?’ Please someone break it down for me(and others), because from where I stand this is how it looks:-

1. As I understand it the cost of acquiring a Starlink broadband service is a one-off payment of around $500 to Space X, plus a $99 a month subscription. How many people in Malawi are going to be able to afford this? As I see it, the problem in Malawi is not necessarily coverage, but cost, in particular taxes and levies that are charged ontop of data costs…Nde what exactly are we going to be getting from a new operator? How much taxes will be levied on them?

2. The pricing structure too doesn’t make sense. With Fibre via undersea cables, our connectivity and the cost of data should decrease year on year. So how does that reflect on what Starlink will be charging? I mean why would anyone go for an expensive Starlink service when they can get a much better and much cheaper service via Fibre?

3. Also has Macra changed its regulations regarding consumers receiving VSAT’s. What will be the new position on Macra regarding VSAT licensing fees (Private/Corporate), which currently stand at around $500 or more per year? What are projected fees consumers/corporate clients will have to pay to Macra for having a Starlink VSAT? How will such represent value for money? Or are we going to be dispensing with those fees altogether?
I think Malawians need to be told currently what licensing regime/framework will be used for Starlink in as far delivering Broadband Internet via Satellites is concerned.

4. Finally, the cost of Data: In Kenya they are buying data for $5/ mbps or less depending on what capacity, in Malawi we’re charging a lot more, and it’s been like that for a long time. So how will Starlink make things better here for ordinary Malawians?

Penapake we have to be careful not to just jump onto any bandwagon, and get excited about things that, when you break the numbers down, don’t even help us.

MACRA, please give us answers?!

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