This ISP sells Starlink in South Africa — here is how much it costs

South Africans looking to take up SpaceX’s Starlink service now can have Northern Cape-based Internet service provider IT LEC import and manage the service on their behalf.

Although Starlink is not officially supported in South Africa, the service’s regional and global roaming features allow for using it locally if you can import the Starlink kit into the country.

The kit is a critical component, as it includes the rectangular antenna that is pointed at the sky to connect to Starlink’s fleet of satellites.

South Africans can place a pre-order for their Starlink kit directly from the company’s website. However, in that instance, it will only be shipped after the service officially becomes available here.

The estimated availability date for a local rollout has been repeatedly pushed back — first from 2022 to 2023, then to “unknown”.

The delays were suspected to be linked to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (Icasa’s) equity rules for Internet service providers (ISPs).

While the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) failed to respond to MyBroadband ‘s numerous queries about this, communications minister Mondli Gungubele recently confirmed this was the case.

Responding to a question from Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard, Gungubele said Starlink must have 30% of its equity owned by historically disadvantaged groups to be granted the necessary communications services licences to operate in South Africa legally.

Those groups include black people, women, youth, and people with disabilities.

With SpaceX being a private company that does not regularly publish its ownership make-up publicly, it is very difficult to determine whether it would meet this criterion or if it even kept a record of the necessary information to determine if it did.

The latest available information shows that a trust associated with founder Elon Musk owns the biggest chunk — 42% — while Musk also holds 78% voting control.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Photographer: Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg

IT LEC said it initially placed numerous pre-orders for the kit with the hopes of offering these to customers.

It decided to switch its customers, many who live in rural areas, to Starlink due to the impact of load-shedding, crime, and vandalism on other products, which includes fixed-LTE on MTN’s network.

Due to the availability delays, it cancelled those orders and decided to have the kits shipped to addresses where the service has gone live.

It handles the ordering and importing on behalf of customers.

The deposit amount required to secure a kit is R1,999, which is aligned with the $99 (R1,790, excl. VAT) Starlink charges in most countries, rather than the much-reduced $9 deposit it recently introduced in less affluent countries.

That is likely because IT LEC needs to order the kit using an address in a country outside of Africa.

The Starlink kit itself costs R14,999, including 15% VAT, import taxes, and shipping fees.

That compares with a $599 (R10,863) list price in the US, which excludes all the additional fees mentioned above.

It should be noted that the deposit gets deducted from the kit cost.

Monthly fee lower than US and better than regional roaming

IT LEC’s monthly fee for Starlink is R1,799, which is cheaper than the $110 (R1,992) US price for a residential Starlink connection.

The service also supports regional roaming in other African countries, which costs $150 (R2,716) in the US.

IT LEC also allows customers to have their accounts transferred to them if they would fprefer to deal directly with Starlink after receiving the kit.

Upon enquiring about the product, a support agent for the ISP told MyBroadband it had eight units available out of 50 ordered in its latest shipment.

The company said the expected download speeds for the service were between 50 and 250Mbps, and upload speeds should range between 5 and 50Mbps.

Latency is currently around 200–500ms but should come down as Starlink’s satellite capacity and ground station network grows.

Existing consumer satellite Internet packages in South Africa peak at 50Mbps download speeds and 5Mbps uploads, while ping is typically over 600ms.

However, these packages come with strict fair usage policies that significantly throttle speeds beyond 200GB consumption.

Starlink only throttles in high-demand areas when a customer exceeds 1TB of usage.

In addition, traditional satellite packages tend only to be available on long-term contracts.

The upside to that is that the equipment costs are factored into the contract, with the only other charge being a R999 setup fee.

The table below compares the prices of Starlink from IT LEC with comparable satellite packages from Eutelsat on Vox and DSL Telecom Connect packages.

South African satellite broadband package comparison
Package provider Satellite network  Download/upload speeds
Latency
Fair usage policies and installation fees Monthly price
IT LEC Starlink 50–250/5–50Mbps
200–500ms
Deposit: R1,999
Equipment fee: R14,999 (minus deposit)
After 1TB consumption: Unspecified throttle in high-demand areas only
R1,799
Vox Eutelsat 30/5Mbps
600ms+
One-time setup fee: R999
Equipment fee: None
After 200GB consumption: Throttled to 10/5Mpbs
After 300GB consumption: Throttled to 4/4Mbps
R1,879 x 24
DSL Telecom Connect Eutelsat 30/5Mbps
600ms+
One-time setup fee: R1,084.30

After 200GB consumption: Throttled to 10/5Mpbs
After 300GB consumption: Throttled to 4/4Mbps

R1,870.64 x 24
Vox Eutelsat 50/5Mbps
600ms+
One-time setup fee: R999
After 200GB consumption: Throttled to 15/5Mbps
After 300GB consumption: Throttled to 5/5Mbps
R2,639 x 24
DSL Telecom Connect Eutelsat 50/5Mbps
600ms+
One-time setup fee: R999
After 200GB consumption: Throttled to 15/5Mbps
After 300GB consumption: Throttled to 5/5Mbps
R2,653.01 x 24

Now read: Starlink tested in the Kalahari — 167Mbps in the middle of the desert

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This ISP sells Starlink in South Africa — here is how much it costs