We have been fortunate enough to have been one of the first in central Alberta, Canada to receive a Starlink system (since February 2021) www.allmediaservices.net. we spent many hours building our YouTube library and eventually our www.starlinkcommunityforums.com website where we can centralize Starlink information through videos, blog posts, forum commenting and much more. At just over 2.5 years of ownership and testing we have found it to be a very robust system with very little down time. In this post we are going to delve in to our overall experiences with the system, some of the custom installations we have done so far and more importantly some of the fun we have had helping new and long time (AMS) customers set up a reliable network in remote areas near us.
BBB Honey Farm (Rocky Mountain House)
About 60KM West of Red Deer is a hidden gem near Rocky Mountain House, AB. The BBB Honey Farm has been a Starlink user for about a year, they are nestled in a growth of mature trees at a dead end county road (a beautiful location) with multiple outbuildings for honey production, mead production and all sorts of honey based products. The owner and his wife are a wonderful couple that we have had the pleasure of working for on multiple occasions. We come for the work, and stay for the people and the atmosphere (and maybe some product samples :0). So far they have been very impressed with the capabilities of the system. When setting it up initially we had to bridge the gap between the outbuildings and provide a stable internet connection all over the property, this was done with 3 separate D-Link meshing routers (good for approx. 100'). You will always lose some latency and bandwidth when wireless links are required but they work very well when hard wiring is not possible, available, or simply to expensive. Now as the BBB Honey Farm goes about business they have one less thing to worry about and can focus on continuing production of their top quality products. www.bbbhoneyfarm.com
Sylvan Lake, AB
One of our larger custom installations was done on an acreage just outside of the popular Alberta summer town, Sylvan Lake. On this property our customer required security cameras on the house as well as the office building/shop, approximately 60' from the back door of the house (4 cameras total). On top of the security system they needed wireless internet (in the house) and some hard wired connections plus the Wi-Fi on the out building (office/shop). So we started with mounting the Starlink internet on a tripod at the peak of the roof utilizing the out building as our central internet hub. This gave us the ability to run a hard line from the power supply (brick) to our Starlink router and from the AUX port on our Gen 1 router directly into an 8 port POE (power over ethernet) switch. Because it was a POE switch, that gave us the ability to a) power up our ubiquity cameras and b) hard wire the office computers for a more stable connection and c) from that central point (in the shop side) we could also access the internet signal off the switch, then run a Cat cable just outside the wall where we mounted a Ubiquiti loco M5 to rebroadcast our wireless signals towards the house. On the house side we could then receive that rebroadcasted signal with another programmed loco M5 and run a Cat cable in to a 2nd POE switch (located in basement). Using this setup on the house side in a similar way to the shop we could then hardwire any device (cameras, routers, etc.) to feed the Starlink bandwidth throughout the home. They have been happy with this setup since day 1 one and have had little to no issues running off of a single Starlink system.
One of our first installations (rooftop) done on the Starlink system was for a family located near
Millet, (just SE) in one of the many subdivisions in the area. This was an exciting day for us, apart from installing our own test system this was the first customer application of the new system in a rural setting. In this case we had to go with a peak of the roof mount (closer to the center of the roof) in order to avoid groupings of tall trees in every direction, this is not ideal for accessibility but had to be done. That being said our customer has made it through the entirety of a harsh Alberta winter with no complaints (we are happy about that). Inside the house was a simple setup, utilizing the Starlink router that came with the kit we were able to test consistent signals and speeds upstairs and on the far end of the house (furthest from router). Although a fairly average sized home we were impressed with the range of Starlinks 1st Gen router, and as we tested speeds throughout we were all rather elated to see the future of internet manifesting right in front of our own eyes.
Near the small town of Hoadley this installation was one of the most forested areas we had experienced to date, with mature trees surrounding the house it made for a beautiful secluded location but rather tricky to find the right spot with minimal obstructions for Dishy (using the Starlink apps built in obstruction viewer). After much testing all over the two tiered roof we found a spot on the very east side of the higher tier and mounted the Dishy there, this gave us the minimal amount of down time according to the apps statistics. We also decided to go with a 3' tripod and pole as this gave us a little bit of extra height to capture the signal, as well as making a peak mount easy and stable. With the attached 100' cabling on the Gen 1 we were able to get the hard line across the roof peak and down the side of the house to enter in to the living room (where most of the streaming takes place). On a previous visit we had installed a cell phone booster to help with calls and texts, etc. out of the home. Although the customer did have an internet hub at the time it was giving such poor speeds that they could not count on Wi-Fi calling for any thing incoming or outgoing from friends and family. Now that the Starlink has been installed they have found that the cell booster has become more of a backup than anything, and they seem to have minimal issues when running off of the Wi-Fi for all their needs. It has truly been a technological turning point for so many people (in central Alberta alone) that are buried in remote areas inaccessible, or on the edge of tower based radio signals.
Boundary Alberta (Boundary Campground)
This was a fun one for us, at the Boundary Campground near Caroline, AB. It is an established campground with many spacious sites amid a stunning landscape of rolling hills and tall mature trees. Our customer needed a good internet system to feed her home as well as the campground store (approximately 1/2km between the two). So the Dishy was mounted on a 3' tripod at the peak of the roof near the east edge and the cabling/router was installed in her laundry room on the main floor. The router location helped split the difference between the house and garage to the east which has an upstairs rental suite. The Starlink router was sufficient in spreading Wi-Fi throughout both buildings, saving money on wireless links or a meshing system. From the main house to the shop we used a set of Ubiquiti M5 locos (Access Point on the Starlink side/Station on the store side) to bridge the gap and share the Starlink internet. There are potential plans to setup a Starlink business (premium) system and feed wireless internet through the entirety of the campground and all its sites. Starlink claims up to 500mbps download speeds which could mean the ability to stream for a large number of campers at the same time, this has not been a possibility (on a large scale) with any other rural internet providers to date, especially off of a single ISP.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article All Media Services has had a system for over 2.5 years and if anybody has put Starlink Gen 1 through its paces it is us! The Dishy has been moved around more times than we can count (or remember) from the included ground mount on a roof, to a customized J-Arm, to a 3' tripod and pole and the latest being a Starlink supplied flashing mount. We have purposefully covered it with snow multiple times, it has been through Alberta's harsh winters, it has seen hail. sleet, rain, extreme cold and everything in between. Truth be told it has been a catalyst in growing our YouTube channel with a natural ever growing customer base Starlink basically sells itself. It is the future right now, and we have grabbed on to its coat tails for the ride. Whether anything comes from all it for AMS, it has been an incredible journey and learning experience. Seeing people come together over a common experience (even something as finite as reliable internet) has been really satisfying to see for us. Its not just about better technology (which is great) but even more so the ability this gives people to maybe work at their career from home, or sign a child up for soccer online, make a video call to a loved one across the country or the world, home school your children with much less stress, and our personal favorite.. open up the doors to information in 3rd world countries that was inaccessible till now.
One of the most challenging installs we have done yet was due to a terracotta style roof made with clay tiles (a rare roof to find in Alberta). We were unable to use any of the standard mounts normally used on shingles or even tin. So the best option for this roof type was an NPR or Non Penetrating Roof Mount. This type of mount uses a rectangular two piece steel bracket that can sit on a flat roof, and it is usually weighed down with bricks or cement blocks, etc. Unfortunately most NPR,s that we have worked with are meant for a flat roof, so some customization was required in this case. We ended up hiring a local welder to cut the mount in half and weld some heavy duty hinges on which reattached the two halves together and allowed it to straddle pretty much any angle of roof peak. It worked like a charm and we now have an excellent option for those types of installs in the future. The other challenge with this particular home is the walls are made entirely of brick and there was no easy way to get the large connector on the Starlink cable inside the house where the router was to be placed. The solution we found was to route the cabling from the Dishy through a nearby vent and into the attic allowing us to avoid drilling any large holes through the brick while simultaneously getting the connection and router to a more central spot in the home. The end result was a nice clean, unobtrusive installation that has worked well with minimal downtime.
A first for us was this installation which took place on a lake front property. The customer had it temporarily setup on the lawn in behind the house and had ran the line through a window into the Starlink router, even with this quick setup it was an improvement when comparing the other available services in the area. Because of the height of the home and the Dishy proximity to the building they called us to figure out a solution to some intermittent service loss as well as get the cabling and dish off of the lawn. This being a large and newer home we had to get the Dishy mounted at the peak of the roof for aesthetics and to make use of an existing plumbed in Cat6 cable that ran through the attic and in to the building through the now finished walls. So in this case we used an ethernet surge suppressor to couple the Starlink cable together with the existing Cat6 rather than doing an exterior run and creating a bit more of an eye sore. On the same property they also had a detached garage with a loft above that for guests. To avoid running any hardline across the gap we were able to feed the Wi-Fi via a wireless D-Link extender that rebroadcast the signals throughout the whole building with minimal loss to internet speeds.
This installation was the 2nd one from our customers at Pigeon Lake (summer home). Located just outside of Wetaskiwin on an acreage, they had spent enough time with their Starlink system at the lake house they decided to get a second system to replace the wireless LTE system that had been in place for years. Being a newer home that is visible from the highway they wanted to avoid a roof mount altogether. So our solution was a 3 foot tripod with a short pole adapter, this was mounted to a pallet that can be weighted down in any location needed. We placed this mount in the yard about 80 feet from the house giving the Dishy enough clear sky in all directions avoiding any obstructions including the peak of the home. Because the installation was done in the winter we were unable to trench the line in to the ground until the ground had thawed. Once we are able to trench the line underground we will run it through a PVC conduit to protect from moisture, frost and any critters. In the home is a basic setup feeding the different levels using an ethernet cable in the mechanical room from the brick (power supply) run up to the main floor office where the Starlink router sits. They have great Wi-Fi coverage throughout the home and have been pleased thus far.
Although this is a portion of the custom installs that we've done for our customers it has been some of our favorites so far, we have been thrilled to give new and long time customers custom solutions for their homes, offices, out-buildings, cabins and so on. We have always strived to bring Value, Care and Connection as AllMediaSevices, and have carried that same motto over in to our StarlinkCommunityForums content. We want to thank you for reading and hope you enjoyed this glimpse into AMS and some of the Alberta Starlink installations done so far. If you enjoyed this post feel free to leave a comment and a like to see more content like this in the future.