Starlink in Kenya: My Honest Review (2024)

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Written By Lennox Omondi

Kenyan software developer crafting MVPs for startups. Escaped urban life for rural roots.

Ever since Starlink became available in Kenya, I’ve been eager to share my experience. 

Last year’s noise wasn’t for nought; we were heard, even if it wasn’t publicly acknowledged. The improvements for early adopters across Africa, including myself, have been remarkable.

Starlink is a serious investment for anyone based in Africa, so I wanted to detail what performance you can expect and whether it lives up to the hype.

Let’s dive into the details.

My (Original) Setup

The original setup I had were the default gadgets the came with the Starlink Package. I mounted the dish on the rool, and was directly serving from the Starlink router.

The Starlink app showed slight obstruction to the right but it wasn’t much serious.

starlink obstructions

The antenna (I use the Gen2/REV3 terminal) was then mounted onto my metal roof:

starlink installation metal roof

I made a couple of changes to the initial setup, which cumulatively increased the overall performance of the network.

The first thing I did was to get an ethernet adapter and a more powerful router, Huawei AR169FVW in my case.

Huawei AR169FVW router starlink bypass

I have been told that any router with more than 1 CPU addresses major shortcomings with the original Starlink router.

Keep in mind that you need to bypass the associated Starlink router to be able to use third-party routers, which is detailed here.

I also relocated the dish to a taller building near my place and used a LiteBeam access point to connect to my home.

It added a couple of milliseconds to the latency but the tradeoffs were worth it.

The introduction of a more capable router further enhanced my experience, underscoring the importance of a robust home network setup.

That said, most users don’t need to go the extra mile of setting all of these up. The standard Starlink equipment will likely get you 90% of the performance I will show below.

Gathering Data

I began collecting data last December 2023, but the most reliable findings are from January 2024. 

Through custom scripts for ping, weather, and speed tests, I amassed over 416,000 tests, providing a comprehensive look at Starlink’s performance under various conditions.

Though I’m no analyst or network engineer, the data speaks volumes, and I’ve shared it all for independent analysis (just follow the links above).

Separately, the scripts for data collection can be found on my Github repo.

Performance Insights

Here are some of the key data points for anyone interested in using Starlink in Kenya and Africa at large:

  • Uptime: From the myriad of pings, only 1% failed, translating to a 99% uptime over two weeks—a significant improvement from the 90% in early December.
  • Download Speed: I encountered speeds above 250Mbps on several occasions and dipped below 1Mbps a few times. The median speed settled around 48Mbps, which is decent.
  • Upload Speed: Surprisingly, upload speeds varied widely, sometimes surpassing the advertised 5-25Mbps range, reaching up to 27Mbps at best.

Just for reference: Ookla states that median broadband download speeds in Kenya are hovering around the 10Mbps mark, so this is a serious improvement.

starlink speed test kenya

You should therefore be able to engage in almost regular online activity, from streaming movies to conducting video calls. 

Latency remains the only issue with Starlink, thus potentially hampering online gaming activities. 

However, that’s also a given in the US and other markets, albeit less striking due to ground station availability and proximity

Weather’s Impact

Weather plays a notable role in service performance – as detailed here, for example. 

Midday heat correlates with lower speeds and higher latency, suggesting that critical online activities should be scheduled for cooler parts of the day.

Server Selection

Speed test results varied significantly with different servers.

Local servers like Telkom Kenya offered the best speeds, hinting at the impact of submarine cable shares on performance.

That said, even the worst performing servers still offering decent performance for all possible internet activities.

Is Starlink Worth It? Here’s My Personal Take For Anyone In Kenya 

Yes, with some caveats. Gamers might find the latency a hindrance, but for most users, especially those in rural areas like myself, Starlink offers a valuable service. 

It’s about weighing your needs against the service’s current capabilities and potential for improvement.

By January 2024, Starlink had proven its reliability for video calls, a task it previously struggled with. 

This was a turning point, showing that despite some latency, the service could handle essential communications effectively.

Switching to Starlink significantly reduced my internet costs. A generous offer from a supporter covered my subscription, highlighting the community’s belief in the service’s potential. 

For a similar setup to mine, you might need to invest around 230k Kenyan Shillings, but the benefits could outweigh the costs, depending on your situation.

Starlink has transformed my internet experience in Kenya, providing reliable service despite the initial investment. 

While it might not yet be perfect for everyone, its progress and impact are undeniable. 

For those in similar situations to mine, it’s a game-changer, offering connectivity where traditional services fall short.

1 thought on “Starlink in Kenya: My Honest Review (2024)”

  1. Thanks for the analysis. Do you also have information about your service in bad weather?

    My friend in Nairobi uses Starlink and gets ping of around 90 and still does work calls even in the crazy rain storms this past week. It’s encouraging and with the current discount, I decided to test it, too. Will add to this comment once I have had a few weeks to test.

    Reply

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