Starlink Launches Satellite Broadband in Malawi to Bridge Digital Divide

SpaceX’s Starlink provides high-speed, low-latency internet in Malawi, reducing costs and improving connectivity nationwide.

Starlink, the satellite broadband service backed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, has successfully launched its internet offering in Malawi, nearly nine months after obtaining the necessary license. The primary objective of this service is to act as a catalyst in lowering internet service costs and driving internet adoption in the country, which currently faces one of the highest data cost rates globally, ranking third after Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome, according to Statista.

The internet penetration rate in Malawi stood at 20.2 percent at the beginning of 2022, indicating the need for improved connectivity across the nation, especially in remote and rural areas. Starlink’s Low Earth Orbit satellites are designed precisely to address this challenge by providing high-speed, low-latency broadband internet in such hard-to-reach locations worldwide.

The Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority granted Starlink Lilongwe Limited the first-ever high-speed, low-latency broadband satellite internet service license in 2022. Following this, the company has rolled out its ‘speed and unlimited satellite internet service’ in Malawi, replicating similar launches in Nigeria, Rwanda, Mozambique, and Kenya.

In Malawi, users can avail of the service at MWK52,000 (approximately USD 48.9) per month, along with equipment costs amounting to MWK655,000. While Starlink promises high-speed internet with brief intermittent service and high latency, it aims to enhance rural internet connectivity, especially in areas where traditional fiber connections or cell phone coverage fail to reach.

Information technology analyst, Bram Fudzulani, believes that this launch will not only increase rural internet connectivity but also empower resellers in remote areas to provide internet services at more affordable rates, ultimately bridging the digital divide and extending the benefits of reliable internet access to all corners of the nation.

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