There’s a new internet alternative on the market. Starlink, the satellite-based internet service from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is now live in Nigeria, according to the company, with promises of 150Mbps speeds and dead-simple installation.’
If you live in Nigeria, you know firsthand that millions of people have to make do with expensive internet connections from established providers, as well as low speed offerings available in most parts of the country that still use 3g and 4g.
The Elon Musk-owned firm confirmed this in a tweet on Monday, stating that Nigeria was the first African country to enjoy its services.
Getting Starlink for your home isn’t difficult. It’s simply a matter of visiting Starlink.com and confirming that your location is covered by Starlink’s service area—as easy as plugging your address into the SpaceX coverage map—and then signing up for the service.
The initial signup takes moments; you only need to provide your physical address and card information.
As part of signing up you’ll find out whether you can expect your Starlink kit within the usual 2-week window of time, or if you’ll be placed on a waitlist for an unspecified amount of time.
And getting the kit is the hardest part of the whole process. Monthly billing is straightforward and handled online; it’s an automatic payment, so you can set it and forget it after the initial sign up.
And whenever you’re ready to stop service, you can handle that through the same web portal, with no early termination fees or cancellation penalties.
How Much Does Starlink Cost?
When you sign up for Starlink in Nigeria, you buy the Starlink hardware upfront. It’s relatively expensive $600 (NGN268,584) for hardware. Service then costs $43 per month (NGN19,260/mo) for as long as you want the service, but there is no recurring equipment expense.
There is no long-term contract and you can stop and start as you need. You can pay using a dollar card issued by any of the local Nigerian banks.
Starlink says customers in Nigeria typically see download speeds of 50-200 Mbps.
Shipping times are currently estimated to be 1-2 weeks from order.
What Comes In the Starlink Kit?
The Starlink kit comes with everything you need to get going: one Starlink dish, a dish mount, and a Wi-Fi router base unit. It also includes a power cable for the base unit and a 75-foot cable for connecting the router to the dish.
Additional accessories are available through Starlink, including longer cables, additional mounting hardware, and adapters for connecting other equipment over standard Ethernet.
All the plugs have moisture-resistant seals and should withstand inclement weather.
The box includes a fairly simple instruction sheet with illustrations and no text (except the URL to Starlink support).
The setup process is pretty quick (it doesn’t take long to get a live connection after you open the box), but fine-tuning the dish position for optimal performance may take longer.
When you open the aforementioned Starlink kit box, you should see a few things inside: the setup instructions, the Starlink receiver dish, a mounting base, the Wi-Fi router, and a 75-foot cable to connect the dish and router.
The Starlink Wi-Fi router is the key to your new speedy internet connection and serves as the base unit for filling your home with Starlink internet.
On the bottom are two connections: one for power and the other for connecting to your Starlink dish. There are no Ethernet ports for wired connections.
If you want to check that your Starlink system is online, you need to use the accompanying smartphone app (available for Android and iOS).
Once you unpack your Starlink kit, you need to assemble the dish and mounting base. Start by unplugging the connection cable from the dish: It arrives plugged-in and you need to unplug it to seat the dish mast into the mounting base.
Starlink in Nigeria does not have a rechargeable router, so the power (electricity) has to be continually on for it to work.
Find a Good Position for the Dish
The next step is to mount and position the assembled dish for optimal satellite reception.
Find a good position by using the Starlink app; it has an interactive tool that helps you find and validate the proper position for a new dish, but the guidelines are easy enough to understand.
You need an unobstructed view of the sky, with at least 100 degrees of obstacle-free space above and around the dish.
A large unobstructed swath of sky is necessary because the dish does not maintain a fixed orientation. Although you mount it in one place, the dish has a motor and will readjust to maintain a connection with passing satellites.
Some ideas for mounting locations include an open field, a rooftop, or some other elevated structure (such as a pole) that’s above obstructions such as fences, buildings, and trees.
With the Starlink app, you use your phone’s camera to scan the viewing area of the dish. The process involves pointing the camera up at the sky.
The app walks you through this process. Once you scan a sufficient amount of sky, the app takes some time to process the data. After a few moments of number crunching, it tells you whether or not you can get clear reception from that position.
After scanning and validating your position, it’s time to mount the dish. The mounting base includes holes in all four feet for screwing down securely. You can use these to attach the mount to a roof or a fixed structure, as well as stake it to the ground.
Run the Cable
Once the dish is in position, you need to run the cable to the router. For most users, this means running the cable into your home. Once you get the cable into your home, you need only plug it into the Wi-Fi router.
You also need to plug in the power cable for the router, which powers both the router and the dish.
Once your connection is active and the router is running, return to the Starlink app. There, you can monitor the status of your network connection.
It takes a few moments for the dish to establish a connection to the satellites above, so be patient. It’s a quick (but not instantaneous) process. Once the dish establishes a connection, the app informs you that you are online and prompts you to set up your Wi-Fi name and password.
How Fast Is Starlink?
Once you complete all these steps, you should have internet access. Just note that the promised speeds by Starlink in Nigeria may not be available right away.
After the installation process, it may take a full 12 hours for the Starlink system to reach optimal performance.
During that period, the system downloads the latest drivers; scans and maps the satellites around the dish; and calculates the optimal positions to communicate with the different satellites above.
These connections adjust automatically, so you shouldn’t have to worry about constantly tweaking your setup.