Competing with MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9mobile and 200 ISPs
Elon Musk’s Starlink has entered the ring in what is already proving to be a stimulating Nigerian telecoms battle for customers. Combatants include MTN Nigeria, Globacom, Airtel, 9mobile and over 200 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) earlier licensed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says a report by Samson Akintaro in Nairametrics.
Starlink had acquired two licences from the NCC, which include an International Gateway licence and an ISP licence. The ISP licence puts Starlink in competition with Nigerian ISPs Spectranet, FibreOne, Tizeti and iPNX. However, says Nairametrics, the mobile network operators have the bigger share of internet customers in Nigeria. Though Starlink has the unique advantage of offering national coverage and access in the remotest corners of a very large nation, its survival will depend on competitive pricing, says the Nairametrics analyst. “Should Starlink be willing to compete on the price front, this will be a big win for internet users in Nigeria,” said Akintaro.
If not, the satellite service from Starlink will at least allow Nigeria to bridge its access gap, especially in the rural areas beyond the reach of the mobile operators. Starlink’s potential to deliver 150Mbps internet speeds to any place on the planet and its international gateway into Nigeria means it can provide consumers and businesses with global comms by satellite, mobile radio services, VSAT Services, internet node and backbone services. Competitors will include Globacom, Prest Cable & Satellite TV Systems, IMBIL Telecom Solutions Nig and Green Foot Global Resources, who all have the same licence in Nigeria.
The ‘Musk effect’ has generated massive excitement in Nigeria. “Starlink coming to Nigeria means a kid in Ohafia will have same or faster internet access as a kid in Lagos,” said Kalu Aja, a Nigerian personal finance expert, in Nairamtics. Kalu Aja then took to Twitter to enlighten Nigerians about the advantages of Starlink’s internet operations in the country.
“A teacher or Doctor from Ohafia [a local government in Abia State] can move back to Ohafia where the cost of living is cheaper, open a school or clinic, connect online, and create local jobs. A film crew in Jos can film and upload their videos direct from Plateau. A bank in Bama in Borno can be online in real-time with banks in Lagos. ABU Zaria students can stream high-speed videos from around the world. That’s productivity, that’s GDP growth, that’s wealth creation,” said Aja.
As Aja listed other possibilities a national debate was inspired. One online critic, Property Captain, questioned Aja’s thesis on SpeacX, asking: “Kid in Ohafia has $110 monthly subscription?”
Aja referred his critic to technology’s previous economic effects on Nigeria. “When Microsoft came to Nigeria, did kids in Ikoyi have $500 annual license for Windows? Patience…..”