Starlink slashes kit prices in two of South Africa’s neighbours

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite Internet service has slashed the dish and router combo kit prices needed to access its service in Eswatini and Mozambique.

In Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), a country with official Starlink support and rand-based pricing, a standard actuated Gen 2 kit will now cost R6,800, down 43.3% from the original price of R12,000.

In Mozambique, the price of the same system has been cut from 40,492 MZN (R14,621) to 22,000 MZN (R7,944), an even bigger reduction of 45.7%.

These prices do not include the subscription fees, which will set you back another R950 per month in Eswatini and 1,530 MZN (R454) in Mozambique.

If you wish to use the subscriptions while travelling in other countries, you will have to pay extra for the regional or global roaming subscriptions.

The price reductions come as Starlink is ramping up the rollout of its newer Gen 3 kits.

For reference, the regular price of a Starlink kit in the US is $599 (R11,390), although this gets you the newer Gen 3 kit.

However, the Gen 3 offers no reception-based performance benefits, with the main benefits being improved Wi-Fi speeds and built-in Ethernet ports.

It does have a lower risk of mechanical breakdown, as it features a stationary manual orientation design without motors.

The once-off and monthly subscription costs of Starlink’s residential satellite service in Eswatini and Mozambique are summarised in the table below.

Updated Starlink prices — April 2024
Eswatini Mozambique
Once-off kit price (includes dish and router) R6,800 22,000 MZN (R7,944)
Regular residential subscription for homes residing in country R950 1,530 MZN (R454)
Regional roaming subscription (works in African countries, excluding DRC and Zimbabwe) R1,250 3,645 MZN (R1,315)
Global roaming subscription (works across the world, excluding Starlink-blocked areas) R3,800 14,000 MZN (R4,158)
Optional accessories
Ethernet adapter R1,200 7,000MZN (R2,078)
150-feet (50-metre) cable R3,300 10,400MZN (R3,087)

Numerous South Africans desperate for faster connectivity in rural areas have used unofficial importers to get Starlink in South Africa, despite the service not having launched locally.

Although it is impossible to ship Starlink equipment directly to South Africa or use the service with a local address, its roaming service works within our borders.

However, if you are considering doing the same, there are some significant caveats.

Firstly, Starlink is not yet officially licenced to operate in South Africa.

According to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), using Starlink locally is illegal because the service has not acquired the necessary telecoms and radio frequency spectrum licences.

It warned that those who provide a service without a licence or without registering as required are guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of up to R5,000,000 or 10% of their annual turnover — whichever is greater.

Secondly, Starlink itself takes issue with third parties registering kits in the names of users other than the end-users and managing their service on their behalf.

Certain specialist importers have had many of their customers cut off due to this practice, and Starlink has mostly refused to reconnect these customers with their own accounts, turning their Starlink dishes into expensive paperweights.

Even when importing the kit yourself or using an importer that registers it in your name, there is a risk that Starlink could suspend your service.

Starlink has blocked its roaming service in at least two African countries — the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe — following requests from their local telecom operators.

Starlink blocked its service pending the approval of its regulatory applications to officially launch in those countries.

It is possible that it might do the same if a request was received from Icasa, although Starlink’s coverage map still states that South Africa’s service date is currently unknown.

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Starlink slashes kit prices in two of South Africa’s neighbours