Starlink getting better, to beam directly to phones and Zambia to get the service soon

Leonard Sengere Avatar

We have written about Starlink, Elon Musk’s satellite internet provider. The service is still relatively new but they are already making strides that have us wagging our tails in these parts of the world.

Starlink’s next generation satellites are, to quote the man, “almost an order of magnitude more capable than Starlink 1.” Musk did not reveal whether those improvements are to bandwidth or throughput. Some experts suspect the new satellites could lead to 5-10 times more throughput.

Whatever the case, we are looking at significantly better performance. All the while from more sustainable/profitable satellites.

The new V2.0 satellites are much bigger and heavier, around 1250kg vs 260 and 310kgs for V1 and V1.5 satellites. You will have noted that we are talking about a 3x increase in size but a 5-10 times increase in throughput.

The V1.0 satellites are believed to have a total of 18Gbps in bandwidth. The V2.0 satellites could add around 140-160Gbps. That is a massive improvement.

You will remember that Starlink is a lot like the VSAT you are used to. You need a satellite dish and a router to enjoy the service.

Even that is set to change. Starlink partnered with T-Mobile in the US to create a new service that connects mobile phones with Starlink satellites. The US is vast and there are a lot of dead zones that mobile network operators like T Mobile won’t service because it doesn’t make commercial sense to do so.

By leveraging Starlink’s satellite service which now covers the whole earth, including Antarctica, internet service will be brought to those remote places. It will use a mid-band spectrum from T Mobile and users will be able to get service ‘wherever they can see the sky.’

This kind of dampens the excitement around Apple announcing that the iPhone 14 will communicate directly with satellites. Starlink is bringing that to all phones all over the world.

The service is called Starlink V2 and it work best for voice calls and text messaging according to Musk. He says connectivity will be 2 to 4 Mbps per cell zone.

That’s not high bandwidth but for users in Zimbabwe who sometimes get speeds in kilobits per second, this would still be a huge deal even for more demanding internet use cases.

Starlink V2 will launch next year in the US but Musk plans to bring the service to the whole globe. That will be no small ask as this will require partnerships with different MNOs across the world. I think it will be a while before we see it over here though or will it?

Starlink going to Zambia

The Zambian president met with the Starlink team with a view to bringing the service to Zambia. Apparently the talks went well and it looks like Starlink is bound for our landlocked northern neighbour’s shores.

Musk tweeted, “Looking forward to bringing Starlink service to the people of Zambia,” in response to a tweet by an advisor to the Zambian president announcing the fruitful talks.

That means we are now sandwiched between countries that have or will have Starlink soon in South Africa and Zambia. Clearly, our location on the world map will not count against us. Will the other stuff that scares other foreign investors work against us? I hope not.

Also read:

Zimbos can pre-order Elon Musk’s Starlink but it has to register with POTRAZ first

Starlink is hitting Mozambique & Nigeria this year. How long till we get a crack at it in Zimbabwe?

Ukraine got Starlink satellite internet. Can the Russians attack it?



What’s your take?

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  1. Wait

    Looks like approval in South Africa at the moment is a pie in the sky at the moment: “Well, that person realised yesterday, 14 September 2022, that the service changed from indicating it would be available in SA in 2023 to “Service date is unknown at this time”.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      You’re right, there appear to be hurdles in South Africa. It’s gonna be a long road for Starlink. Zambia and Botswana (2023) look set to get it first in Southern Africa, barring any unforeseen stuff.

  2. Derek

    Great stuff!!!thanks to our chief executive president HH.We look forward to this new technology

  3. Captain Samsung

    MuZimbabwe tichaiona kunana 2100 uko 😂😂😂
    Or possibly when everyone else leaves earth for Mars

  4. Johnny

    I don’t understand what’s the hype of this, it’s just internet unless you stay in the rural areas where there’s no coverage.

    1. Closedview

      In the States, people were loving it because it freed them from blood sucking service providers that managed to influence the definition of broadband down to specifications from 10 years ago and lied about building out infrastructure in unserved areas after accepting government money to do so. Similar stories apply around the world in addition to bringing internet to inaccessible areas and being cheaper and better than a lot of options like VSAT and Mobile.
      For the right people, Starlink is gold!

  5. ____

    We might be able to use it unofficially though just as we use Openview.

    1. Closedview

      Starlink has been shown in reviews to have very effective yet frustrating geo fencing capabilities to restrict users to their registered addresses. Granted, this was in the early phases before they enabled mobile capability for vehicles and now portable devices, but if they don’t want to serve your area or are blocked by regulations, they have the means to keep you out.

  6. Owen Mpundu

    I would like to be kept updated.

    1. Starscream

      if you are hard core about it, you can make a $100 reservation. You will likely get emai alerts and IF starlink makes it here, that deposit will get you to the front of the line. The more cost effective alternative is setting up a Google search alert for ‘starlink Internet Zimbabwe’ or something like that

  7. Anonymous

    Very interesting, this is what we want

  8. Cephas KANGWA

    Interesting update, this is the way to go

  9. Mwiinga Chilundu

    We can’t wait to have it here in our beautiful country Zambia

  10. Edgars

    Nigeria and Mozambique were the first African countries to approve Starlink. Nigeria may be a very corrupt country, but their leaders understand innovation and modern technologies 🙂 Rwanda was way ahead of the game, securing 7 satellites from OneWeb to beam free internet, an alternative to Starlink. Zambia has joined Starlink, and South Africa is still dilly-dalling. But the South African government unveiled a free 10gig monthly internet plan to its citizens, so you wouldn’t be interested in paying $99 a month for Starlink.

    Embracing modern technologies in Africa is too slow due to 1) Lack of innovative leadership 2) Lack of understanding/education, 3) Fear of competition 4) Fear of empowered society.

    You find someone opposing a technology they have no extensive knowledge about, just because the idea was brought up someone else or they want to be the only privileged owners of that item in society. Yes, this is how most Africans think. One-upsmanship, elitism and clout seeking is real. They feel satisfied/more important when society is deprived of certain privileges. These are the same people who won’t develop their communities, but will spend their money overseas in developed countries, coming back to boast about how they lived in Dubai, Paris, London, New York and other fancy places. Yet back home, you don’t even have tap water in your suburb, you are fetching water from a well.

    In Africa, we are not yet at a stage to realize that innovation, development and free enterprise is for the benefit of all. Developed countries like the USA have plenty-plus jobs and business opportunities. There is a severe shortage of workers in many industries, which are taken up by immigrants from poor countries.

    In Africa, there is poverty, high unemployment and limited opportunities because of protectionism. It’s only in capitalist free enterprise societies like South Africa where job/business opportunities are many. Many leaders in Africa still can’t get it. We are stuck in poor protectionist societies forever.