Updated: Mar 15, 2022
New to the internet game Starlink has come in swinging with excellent download and upload speeds out of the box, and a better than average experience for users (even in the Beta stage). We at AMS are sold on the system, but we don't speak for everyone, especially when looking at the price point to acquire a system for yourself.
In this Blog we are going to do some comparisons on a few rural internet providers here in Canada, and help those on the fence make an informed decision on an internet system for your business or household needs.
Lets first talk about Bandwidth:
-Bandwidth is measured by how much data can be moved between two points within a network-
Often confused with speed, bandwidth is the VOLUME (amount) of data that can be transferred, compared to Download or Upload rates (which is the SPEED that the data can be transferred at). When considering an ISP (Internet Service Provider) remember to not only base your decision on the download and upload speeds but also the infrastructure in your area that is supplying the internet connection to your home or business. Many rural internet providers are ran off of LTE systems which use wireless antennas to receive signals from a tower in your area, many factors contribute to the quality of your connection including the landscape, distance to tower, physical location or tower capacity (the users on said tower at any given time). This doesn't often (but should always) play into the decision of what provider to go with.
Now lets take a look at Price:
Starlink(New Satellite Internet Provider):
-Monthly Charge: $129CAD+Tax (unlimited data) $135.45 per month. (only one package available at this time)
-Equipment Charge: $649CAD+$65CAD shipping and handling+Tax - $750 total (customer owns the equipment)
-Speeds: Ranging anywhere from Download 60MBPS-300MBPS+ Upload Range From 10MBPS-30MBPS (these are an approximates based on personal experience over a year of testing) Ping times average 30-40MS (will vary)
-Extra Fees: No rental fees. No contract. No service fees. No installation fees (unless contractor is needed) What you see is what you get.
Xplornet(Rural Canada Wide LTE Provider):
-Monthly Charge: $109.99CAD+Tax (unlimited data) $115.50 per month (after 1 free month) (multiple package options)
-Equipment Charge: Equipment is under a rental program (covered under plan) Can rent a wireless router for $6 per month added to bill
-Speeds: Top Package provides up to a Download of 50MBPS and an Upload up to 10MBPS. Ping times average from 20-30MS (will vary)
-Extra Fees: requires a one or a two year contract. Two year contract provides a free installation. One year contract is a $49.99 installation fee on the first bill. Xtra care warranty can be purchased for $7.50 per month (labor and service calls are not covered after 1st year of service) this will cover most service calls to the premises (with some restrictions)
MCSNet (Largest Rural Alberta Highspeed Provider)
-Monthly Charge: $149.95CAD+Tax (unlimited data) $157.50 per month (densely populated areas will receive $10 off the monthly bill)
-Equipment Charge: Equipment is under a rental program (covered under plan)
-Speeds: Typical users will experience speeds up to 40MBPS download and 10MBPS upload (multiple packages available - only one unlimited data package available)
-Extra Fees: No term or two year contract. Two year contract provides a free installation. No contract is a $199.95 installation fee on the first bill. On site service calls are NO charge unless issue was caused by customer damage, error or neglect (minimum $75 site charge + $75 per hour)
When comparing these 3 rural providers it really is a broad sweep of prices, download speeds, upload speeds, etc. Each provider has its pros and its cons. I really appreciate that MCSNet recognizes the limitations in certain geographical areas and provides a $10 discount for those experiencing slower speeds due to their location and the load on the tower. Although they are the highest priced option customers seem satisfied with the service.
Xplornet having the lowest price point for an unlimited package offers some perks when comparing to Starlink, main one being equipment rental instead of purchase and one year of warranty for on site service calls.
Starlink at the 2nd highest price point has been able to back up the cost with some incredible rural speeds, ease of setup and use (self Install), and quick response in the app through the support tab.
One thing they all have in common though is the option for unlimited data so you never have to worry about how much you and your family, or your business is utilizing the internet, What we
have found over the years working with different internet companies (whether we are installing
the services or experiencing it for ourselves) unlimited data doesn't matter if your internet service and or your customer service is poor.
No company is perfect but I for one am willing to pay the extra monthly charge for stability and peace of mind. For AMS, Starlink is the clear winner for our needs as a small business (they didn't pay me to say this..), the reason I say that; is the sheer capacity Starlink has for running a host of devices and tasks all at the same time, we have tried to crash the system with a huge amount of streaming, uploads and zoom calls across 15+ devices all at once and Starlink handled it all in stride (with some minor slow down). On top of excellent speeds SpaceX has been working hard to launch more than 2000 satellites (to date) into orbit, and they are authorized for a total of 4408... so far.
We are not saying that we haven't had any down time over a year of testing the Dishy, but more so want to come back to the point of stability and peace of mind, which Starlink seems to provide an abundance of. Combine that with the drive they have to provide internet service worldwide with another phase of 30,000 satellites in the works, I have a feeling we aren't going to see much for slow down due to capacity issues.
Video Proof of the Starlink Capacity
It wouldn't be fair to wrap this up without reiterating that the Starlink system has the potential (just like every other rural internet) to become overloaded with customers. If we look back earlier in this Blog when Bandwidth was mentioned and the explanation of what that means, it should help with the understanding of any systems limitations. With Starlink we are looking at a satellite system where the satellites have been launched into low orbit (first of its kind in that regard) this allows it to be very competitive with Latency (ping times) in comparison to any tower based LTE systems. Like I mentioned earlier though, none of that matters if the companies infrastructure cannot handle the customer base and provide solid customer service. Time will tell if they have sufficiently prepared for the influx of customers that are coming.
However this plays out, I am happy to see the competition lowering prices and increasing the incentives in order to stay relevant, as well as providing Canadians with stable high speed connections.
Thank you Starlink for bringing the change!
I hope this article has helped you in your decision. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions. Thanks for reading, and take care,