My personal review of SpaceX's Starlink - "high-speed, low-latency broadband internet in remote and rural locations across the globe"
Starlink arrived just over two weeks ago on my doorstep with the promise of better internet speeds, better reliability, and a smaller monthly bill. I was on the waiting list for more than a year. Was it worth waiting for?
I live two miles north of the city limits. Two miles too far to enjoy 940Mbps internet speed (at $75/month). When we built our house we planned for cows, chickens, a big garden, and a bright night sky. But that came with a price. For five years now we've paid $164.97 a month for internet speed of 20Mbps. That's not a typo. 20. That's 920Mbps slower for $89.97 more.
So as soon as I learned of SpaceX's announcement of Starlink, I put down a $100 deposit and signed up. They promised "high-speed, low-latency broadband internet in remote and rural locations across the globe." I didn't know what their speeds would be, but it had to be better than 20Mbps.
Twenty days ago I received an email with this subject line:
Your Starlink is ready! Confirm your order in the next 7 days
Their high-pressure email worked:
You have 7 days to confirm your order by clicking "Manage" on your Account Page otherwise your deposit will be automatically cancelled and fully refunded. Upon cancellation, you will lose your place in line.
The one-time hardware cost of $599 was expensive. I paid an additional $133.56 for the flashing mount, pivot mount, and ethernet adapter. The recurring monthly cost is $110.
Inside the box was the base, the router, the Starlink device, and a 75-foot cable.
Oh, and the instructions:
These were literally the instructions. Three pictures: 1) put the Starlink thing in the base, 2) connect it to the router, and 3) run the Starlink app. It couldn't be that simple. So I tried it, and was blown away. It actually worked. I just put the base near the driveway, pulled the cord through a window, plugged it in and in minutes I was connected.
After a few days of playing and running speed tests, I knew I had to keep this permanently. The most difficult part of the process was drilling the hole through the roof, then through the second roof that the first roof was covering, pulling the cable through the attic, fishing it down the right wall, and into my office. Mounting the device to the roof was pretty simple.
Here is my typical speed test before Starlink:
19.9 Mbps down, 6.87 Mbps up
Here is my typical speed test with Starlink:
80.52 Mbps down, 14.00 Mbps up
This is at 1:15pm. Earlier in the day I see speeds beyond 200 Mbps. So it's not in-the-city speeds, but it's incredible compared to what else is available.
The "mostly" part of this article relates to speeds in the evening when everyone in rural Idaho is home using their own Starlinks. Between about 6:30pm to 10:30pm, speeds slow down to between 10-20 Mbps. It's usually not a problem unless I'm watching YouTube TV, my wife is streaming music, and kids are working on homework (or so they say). Then it buffers a bit. It's probably a bit too slow for me to trust hosting a live evening webinar with it. All other times, it is wonderful and fast and so much less expensive. Starlink says this will continue to improve as they deploy more of their satellites.
One other thing I've worried about is the snow. We've had five feet of snow on the ground here in the past. What will happen to my internet connection when any amount of snow is on top of the Starlink? Starlink thought of that too:
Do I recommend Starlink? Like the great Judy Russell says, "it depends". If you live in a place where high speed internet is not an option, and you have a clear view of the sky, then this is a great choice. If you travel, you might even enjoy the "Starlink for RVs". If you already have a fast internet connection, this won't give you anything more. Well, except for some really cool technology.
Learn more at https://www.starlink.com.
Learn more Tech from Geoff at https://familytreewebinars.com/geoffrasmussen.