Starlink in Zimbabwe: Techies Find Ways to Disguise Kits, Evading Authorities

In a country choked by high internet costs and limited options, Zimbabweans are turning to remarkable ingenuity. Facing arrest and equipment seizure for using Starlink, tech-savvy individuals have devised a way to disguise the kits. One such individual who communicated anonymously with us here at Techzim has said he’s helping people hide their Starlink terminals […] The post Starlink in Zimbabwe: Techies Find Ways to Disguise Kits, Evading Authorities appeared first on Techzim.

May 19, 2024 - 10:03
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Starlink in Zimbabwe: Techies Find Ways to Disguise Kits, Evading Authorities
Starlink

In a country choked by high internet costs and limited options, Zimbabweans are turning to remarkable ingenuity. Facing arrest and equipment seizure for using Starlink, tech-savvy individuals have devised a way to disguise the kits.

One such individual who communicated anonymously with us here at Techzim has said he’s helping people hide their Starlink terminals from the authorities.

They modify the terminal so that it looks like a solar panel, or just a light. They are also able to make it work without the indoor router, removing any evidence of the presence of a Starlink connection, even if the authorities suspect, or a neighbour snitches.

The modified terminal would look something like this:

He explained:

We work with the Starlink Gen 2 terminal. We crack it open, and modify it so that it runs on 12v DC. The unit is then able to fit inside either a solar panel or a street light.

Converting it this way also enables us to do away with the cable and the Starlink router.

He said customers are loving the modified kit.

The product has been a hit in the market as users love the stealthy element about it. No one knows that there’s Starlink on site as the solar panel and/or street light are ordinary off the shelf products.

On the legal grey area they are playing in providing a service to people whom the law considers criminal, the source said:

This has been necessitated after seeing people being arrested for wanting a cheaper Internet solution. We do not provide Starlink kits but convert a client’s unit for them.

My focus is on providing a valuable service that helps people access affordable and reliable internet solutions. My goal is to offer innovative and discreet modifications to Starlink units, allowing users to enjoy high-speed internet without drawing unnecessary attention.

In today’s digital age, connectivity is more crucial than ever, and I’m committed to helping individuals stay connected in a way that suits their needs and preferences. Whether it’s through hidden Starlink units or other creative solutions, I’m here to support my clients in achieving seamless internet connectivity.

The Starlink issue has been topical in Zimbabwe for several months now.

Zimbabweans want Starlink because it offers cheaper internet compared to fibre and and other ways (like LTE, ADSL, Mobile data) to connect to the internet in Zimbabwe. The government however says it’s illegal to use it because SpaceX, the US based company offering Starlink, is not licensed to provide internet services in Zimbabwe.

A Starlink month’s subscription in Zimbabwe is about $40 for unlimited internet. Compare that to anything between $140 and $400 for an unlimited usage internet interconnection from providers like TelOne (government owned), Liquid (the largest by network size and subscribers), Dandemutande, Telco, Powertel and others.

Mobile data providers also charge quite significantly more. The largest provider, Econet, has 25GB priced at $38 a month.

The difference in monthly subscriptions between Starlink and the Incumbents has been significant enough, the black market for Starlink kits continues to thrive. The government is trying to enforce the regulations where they can. There have been at least 2 arrests for the Starlink crime.

The minister of ICT for her part, has promised to look into why the internet is so expensive in Zimbabwe, but has already warned while she’s interested in more access, she’s also needs the operators to run viable businesses. Which probably means you shouldn’t be too hopeful there.

The post Starlink in Zimbabwe: Techies Find Ways to Disguise Kits, Evading Authorities appeared first on Techzim.

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David Lee Munemo David Lee Munemo is a rising Zimbabwean journalist with a passion for making complex news discoveries accessible to the public. Driven by a belief in the importance of information communication, David's work tackles a variety of news fields, from groundbreaking entertainment research to the latest political news.