What is Starlink
Elon Musk is known as a disruptor, a hero to many and a villain to some, but one thing that everyone can agree on is that he has definitely disrupted many of the accepted and almost previous norms of society. Just to mention a few of these would be Tesla, which has turned the car industry on its head now trying to catch up to its pace, SpaceX which made the imaginative a reality and shook the entire space industry with reusable rockets, and Starlink is delivering internet services to areas that other providers have been trying to do for 20 plus years. Now delivering services that are better than most rural ISP's (Internet Service Provider) Through satellite technology defying the human imagination or propelling it. I’m sure that if Elon got a nickel for every time he heard "That can't be done" he would've been a trillionaire years sooner.
But this isn't even about Elon, this is about Starlink a rural internet provider, That delivers broadband internet services to some of the most difficult terrain with ease and at a fraction of the cost of it competitors, using satellite technology developed by SpaceX With speeds that can handle home and business networks rated at 50-500Mbs download, make working at home now possible for some and opening up options for rural businesses that would have only been available to places near cable, fiber-lines and towers. This being said, there are some very important things to consider before getting a Starlink system, and some you better consider deeply before packaging back up and sending it back, with crushed dreams of fast usable reliable enjoyable internet. Let's take a look at 7 factors that will help you make the best decision when it comes to purchasing Starlink.
1. Your need for internet, the most obvious thing to consider is what are you using your internet for? Do you stream TV, do homework or even work from home? Do you just need to check emails occasionally and maybe the odd glance at social media. If you understand and know your internet usage, you'll be able to make the best decision about what ISP would work best for you. You might think that Starlink is the best option, but considering that some people only use the internet for checking emails, they might be able to find a provider at a 1/8 the cost that would suit their needs just fine. Starlink requires a hefty upfront payment that bills out on the higher side of LTE providers. So if you're near an LTE tower, find out what they offer and definitely weigh out the options. Now for some and we've met many already, this is a no brainer as they don't have any other ISP services near them. The only option is Satellite, and if that is the case then Starlink is absolutely the best choice, other satellite internet providers just can't keep up with Starlink. In most categories, speed, price, availability with the exception of one category and that will be reliability which can only be truly measured over time. So weighing your options is always the best plan to help make the right decision, but if money isn’t any sort of factor then Starlink it is.
2. Availability, Starlink is not available everywhere yet, and even once it is there is no guarantee that you will get it. Unlike other ISP's that have an installation network, with contractors that come to your door. Starlink is sent to you via postage and it's up to you to get it installed. Once you sign up and make your initial deposit, you are put in a queue for the system, it might be weeks, months and in some cases I've heard of over a year before you receive your services. If you're needing services asap then another provider might have to fill in the gap before you get your Starlink. We’ve had some clients only wait for weeks and some that have waited months, and some still waiting. This can be painful but we believe it is for legitimate and good reasons in our point of view. While other ISP's have crammed in as many consumers as they could on their towers in order to generate profit, the cost is at the end users terminals when their internet speeds become slow due to the heavy drain placed on the system, due to the high volume of users. I personally would rather wait and get something good than get something quickly only to be disappointed with its performance.
3. Budget, being at the higher end of the pricing spectrum means that Starlink will be a heavy option to weigh out. Albeit there are ways one might be able to save money because you have Starlink, check out our other article, Saving Money With Starlink The upfront $500.00 American and $650.00 Canadian is extremely pricey considering that some of the competition will give it to you for $0 down if you sign a contract. Which to Starlink credit and this is huge for me, you're not in any sort of payment contract, if you don't like the services then you won't be stung with some large bill for getting out, It can be canceled at any time. And another great feature from Starlink is there are no data caps, you won't be penalized for excessive consumption of data! No overages on bills! Play on gamers and keep watching streamers, you'll never be overcharged on your bill.
4. Location, Starlinks satellite constellation is huge and the area it covers is vast but that doesn't mean you can get it from anywhere on the ground. Trees, buildings, towers, mountains can all cause interference with the Starlink system. Trees are by far going to be the most common challenge. If you have tall trees surrounding your acreage or house you might have problems getting the signals you need. Although there are always workarounds that can be done, be prepared for possibly trimming trees to help open up the line of sight (field of view) for your system. If you love your trees as some definitely do, majestic and hundreds of years old. Just be prepared for disappointment when you're unable to get internet, or you get intermittent speeds that work and then don't, you might still be able to get a somewhat usable connection but intermittent internet connectivity issues are painfully frustrating to deal with. We highly recommend you download the Starlink app and use the obstruction finder to test your area before even purchasing the system. This will help you to gauge just how much work you might be in for before you go ahead, or if it will even be possible.
5. Accessories, there are 3 Starlink systems available at this time Gen1, Gen,2 and Premium. We're dealing with home residential systems so will take premium out of the mix.(Premium is for commercial use). Both Gen1 and 2 are priced the same, and you're not able to pick which system you'll get so the options here will depend on which system you receive. Both systems come with a ground/flat roof mounting bracket. These can be used for roof mounting but it will take some extra pieces to be done right. You have options from Starlink to purchase varying mounts, make sure to consider which one applies best to your situation and purchase it once you receive confirmation for your systems delivery which takes about a week once you receive the notification. You’ll probably get the parts after your dishes delivery, but that is fine, you can run tests before doing the permanent installation, this way you’ll know your installation will work as needed before permanently installing. Depending on your roof type and installation you might have to look outside of Starlink to find one that works better for you. We've had a lot of success using a 3 foot tripod mount, as it gives a lot of versatility for peak mounting, no matter how steep the roof may be. The Starlink dish should not be mounted on any angle above 35 Degrees, so definitely keep this into consideration. Once you've figured out your mount, now you need the tools and equipment for install, we couldn't possibly go over every option as every install is unique and there is a plethora of tools and parts needed. Starlink does offer a few kits for wood and masonry installations, these are important. A good clean installation will help the life expectancy of the system, cables placed on the ground, run through windows and doorways are just waiting for damage to happen, and repairs will be difficult. I would recommend getting a professional to help with the install just to make sure it's done right and safely, they'll also have all the tools needed on hand and save you from having to source them out. But many can and will do it themselves, I recommend doing a little study on router WIFI signals to get an idea of where to try and situate the router for best performance, metal and stone eat WIFI signals so maybe placing the router beside the freezer or on the chimney mantle isn’t such a good idea.
Router, both Starlink systems come with a router. So no need to purchase a new one, but one other accessory worth mentioning is for the Gen 2 system, the ethernet adapter. This adapter will give you the ability to hard wire your system and use non Starlink equipment with your system. This is a must have in my books, otherwise if something goes wrong you're at the mercy of Starlink to take care of it for you. Whereas with the adapter you can by-bass the router and have a direct connection and possibly keep using the system while they send out replacement parts. The Gen1 system router can be bypassed without an adapter from Starlink. Most home network routers usually have 4 ports for hardwiring a network. Unfortunately Starlink didn't want to give us any options other than a single port offering with their equipment. So if you're planning on doing any kind of networking in your home or already have one in place you're going to need a network switch to support the system. In some cases hardwire connection is the only way the device can connect, so definitely think about what equipment you'll be running and how it will connect into your Starlink network and order what's needed. You can also use existing compatible routers that you may have already owned, but once again the ethernet adapter will be needed for Gen2.
Cabling, you have a 100 foot length cable from Starlink with the Gen1 system and a 75 foot cable with Gen2 system with the option of 150 foot cable from Starlink. Hopefully these lengths will be enough for you but I know it won't work for everybody out there. You can add cabling to the Gen1 system but it is not advised by Starlink. We have run 300ft cable lengths and used them over a period of time with no issues to our system, although I know the equipment was working harder. In some cases where you're installing the dish 300ft away to get into an opening for the satellite field of view this might be an option. With the Gen 2 system you're limited to 150 Foot until Space X or the aftermarket comes up with more solutions and options.
Mobility! 1-1.5 Kilometer service radius (in our testing)
Comes with a router and cabling
Rated at 50-150Mbs speed
Best Recorded Speed 307Mbs
Router can power up to 100 devices
Has been very reliable
Little pricey to start
Monthly bill is above average
No options for packages
Inconsistency in speeds
Limited cable length
Some install accessories required
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