#MondayBlues: Starlink Zim Launch Doubtful Amidst US$5.5m For Licence


High-speed and uncapped satellite internet service provider Starlink would have to fork out close to US$5.5 million for an operational licence as an Internet Access provider (IAP) if it harbours any chances of operating in Zimbabwe.

This pegs Zimbabwe as the most expensive country in SADC to operate as an internet service provider, unless ofcourse they successfully apply for VSAT licensing, which is way cheaper.

The operational licence for IAP expected to run for 14 years, however, the prohibitive operational licence fees cast a doubt on whether Starlink will decide to settle in Zimbabwe.

Starlink has since gone quiet after making their intentions known that they had interests in investing in Zimbabwe, with government confirming that they have received the application and now awaiting payment.

Government officials have however declined to shed more light on which exact licence will StarLink get, as they await payment and approval for their license.

Potraz Director General Dr  Gift Machengete also confirmed receiving   Starlink application and will only grant them access when they pay for their licence.

watch video below

Under the Postal & Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ)  regulatory framework, an internet service provider A is required to pay a whopping US$5.5 million over a 14 year period while a class B is supposed to pay US$2 7 million over 12 years, depending on the actual licence that Starlink requires.


Zimbabwe ISP Internet Application fees

Since the tariff review to USD, Zimbabwe has had very few new IAPs with only rumours of Dark Fibre Africa as being the latest licensed Internet Access Provider in Zimbabwe. However, they are very much conspicuous in their continuous absence of the Potraz performance report, amongst other players

Zimbabwe active internet access providers

SpaceX currently has around 4,000 satellites in orbit, with plans to launch 42,000 in total. To date, more than 50 countries are known to have authorised Starlink to offer fixed broadband connectivity.

It has more than 1,500 satellites aloft and is operating in about a dozen countries, growing every month. Musk forecast total customer numbers would reach half a million over the next 12 months, from 69,000 now.

In 2022 alone, Starlink’s subscriber count rose from 145,000 to over one million. One aspect is the fact that Starlink was launched in 20+ markets that year.

Another reason is its vastly expanding satellite constellation and ground station network, thus enabling Starlink to service even more users in its key markets (e.g., US, Canada, or Australia).

Starlink would need a few million subscribers paying about $99 a month each to recoup a $5 billion investment in a year’s time, said analyst Tim Farrar, president of TMF Associates.

A $30 billion investment over a decade would not require a dramatic rise in subscribers, but to achieve Musk’s 2020 projection of roughly $30 billion revenue a year would require tens of millions of subscribers, he said.

Another important aspect to keep in mind is the cost of maintaining its constellation. Starlink’s satellites will need to be replaced every 5 to 6 years, with existing ones burning up almost completely when re-entering earth’s atmosphere.

Data indicates that each Starlink satellite costs around $300,000 to produce, on top of $15 million for each Falcon 9 launch. A Falcon 9 normally transports 50 satellites, thus costing SpaceX around $30 million ($15 million + ($300k * 50 satellites)).

Additionally, Starlink has also donated a few thousand dishes to help Ukraine, which supposedly led to monthly losses of more than $20 million.

USAID agreed to purchase closer to 1,500 standard Starlink terminals for $1,500 apiece and to pay an additional $800,000 for transportation costs, documents show, adding up to over $3 million in taxpayer dollars paid to SpaceX for the equipment sent to Ukraine.

Musk said he was talking to possible partners as a number of countries require operators to provide rural coverage as conditions of their 5G licences.

He also said if telecom operators have cellular stations in remote regions, they can use Starlink to allow them to connect to core networks.

In Nigeria Starlink received two licenses, which include the International Gateway license and Internet Service Provider (ISP) license, and will be trading as Starlink Internet Services Nigeria Ltd


Right now, Starlink is more or less the only game in town when it comes to low-earth orbit (LEO) internet. As a result, Starlink is able to (mostly) offer high-speed and low-latency internet in areas that have previously been deprived.

Competitors like HughesNet or Viasat, which rely on a few geostationary satellites (further distance and fewer satellites mean higher latency and slower speeds), can simply not compete when it comes to performance.

According to the publication, Starlink generated $222 million in revenue for 2021 and a whopping $1.4 billion across 2022.

Starlink costs anywhere from $90 per month for Starlink Standard with standard data in low-capacity areas. Starlink also requires upfront equipment fees ranging from $599 at the lowest for the hardware

Traditionally, this is the list of Zimbabwe Internet Service Provider (ISP) and Internet Access Providers (IAP) but some of these may have stopped operations in the past years,  Liquid Telecommunications Ltd, TelOne PVT Ltd, Dandemutande, Powertel, Dark Fibre Africa,  ,Telecontract Pvt Ltd, GISP, Africom, Real-Time Technologies Alliance – Africa,  Gpon Pool, , Africom, Afrihost

However the same internet access providers have been offering a very small chuck of the market share for fixed  internet connectivity with the biggest share going to mobile connectivity.

Only 189 000 subscribers are connected to the fibre, VSAT, Copper cables and fixed Wireless against 9.7 million who areon mobile network, meaning , this is the market that we are currently protecting from potential new players , a mere 1.9%, mainly because of high connectivity costs .

In order to offer satellite services in any nation-state, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) regulations and long-standing international treaties require that landing rights be granted by each country jurisdiction, and within a country, by the national communications regulators. As a result, even though the Starlink network has near-global reach at latitudes below approximately 60°, broadband services can only be provided in 40 countries as of September 202


NetOne Speaks On 10 Gig Data Gift Package

Previous article

Game Changer: ABSP Geared To Transform Business Model

Next article


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *