The challenge of accessing Starlink’s internet service in Nigeria has become a source of concern for intending customers, as they are required to pay in dollars at the point of checkout, even though prices are quoted in naira.
Several Nigerian Tech channels on YouTube that review tech-related gadgets, all cited several other hidden costs associated with operating Starlinks.
This payment requirement has become a significant challenge for Nigerians since the suspension of international transactions on naira cards by Nigerian banks, which means only a few Nigerians with dollar cards and those using virtual cards can acquire Starlink for now.
Even if international transactions on naira cards were still being allowed, it would have been impossible for anyone to purchase Starlink kits with the $20 daily spending limit. Despite Starlink now quoting their prices in naira, one month later, they are yet to accept Naira payments.
Some customers who pay in dollars also complain of the true cost in Naira which when converted at the black market rate is higher than the actual cost quoted by Starlink. For example, while the monthly cost is quoted at N19,260 per month or $43, however, because payment is made in dollars, users indicate the actual cost is N32,000 using the black market rate.
In addition, the cost of the equipment is stated as N258,584 on Starlink’s website, however, users who purchased it cost about $587 and when translated in naira cost around N435k, according to a user @Oscarmini on YouTube. Another user claimed it could cost up to N450k.
Another user @Izziboy stated that the upload speed was slow and he had to often rely on local internet service providers for backups. He also mentioned that while it is unlimited, the service has one terabyte cap after which fair usage applies (except between midnight and in the morning).
The gadget also does not have an internet port so users have to also buy an extra adaptor at about $57 or N26k when converted at black market rates. Small businesses looking to use this for their offices will also need to spend another $186 to buy a Starlink WiFI mesh for an extended range.
Another user, @FisayoFosudo indicated that the more devices he connected to the gadget the slower the speed and also noticed that the upload speed was very slow.
The issue of payments in dollars, coupled with the mobile-centric nature of Nigerians, may limit Starlink’s adoption in the country. However, as the country continues to develop its infrastructure and improve access to foreign currency, there is potential for Starlink and other similar services to gain wider acceptance among Nigerians.