It's The Season Of Intermittent Satellite Signals
Everybody is curious about Starlinks performance, they have seen grandiose speeds being posted and wish theirs was the same. These great speeds we see are usually not the average, they are something that we like to call "burst speeds". The overall average of speed of Starlink users is well below the 200-300 speed tests being shown online. That being said, you can run multiple speed tests and get different results every time, why does Starlinks internet connection fluctuate so much? Did you install something wrong or is this normal? Is there something you can do to improve your speeds and make it more consistent?
Every spring we go through the transformation of vegetation being rejuvenated. With this comes giant trees budding their leaves. Every year as a satellite technician we new that this was a time in which our work would surge. Dishes that were installed years ago now have a large tree cutting off the signals, in some case the area got so grown in that getting signals would require removing trees(or installing on one) to get a usable signal again.
For all the great technology that Starlink brings to the table the one thing they have not done is develop a signal that passes through trees any better then it's predecessors. Trees are the nemesis of radio signals and can cause intermittent issues that leave you frustrated and puzzled. Starlink has not overcome this obstacle, at least through equipment, however through their app, both the ‘Obstruction Viewer’ and ‘Network Statistics' ' you can hopefully pin point down if trees are an issue, which trees are the issue, and what you will have to do to remedy the situation.
The obstruction viewer in the app allows you to use your phone's camera to spot out your line of sight. You can test as many locations as you want, you do not even need a Starlink system to use the app. Do this before you order Starlink to see just how well it will work from your location. I've gone into more detail about the ‘instruction viewer’ in another blog, so for this one we're going to just touch on the basics but if your wanting to learn more click here https://www.starlinkcommunityforums.com/post/starlink-checking-for-dishy-obstructions
Found on the homepage of the Starlink app just to the left of the 3 main buttons, once you have selected it will ask you for permission to use your camera. Make sure your phone camera lens is clean and that you have sure footing around you. The service area is very large and must scan out the whole area. This is very important, I can't stress this enough that you must scan the whole area and not just the perimeter of your line of sight like you were able to with the older satellite technology. These LEO (low earth orbiting) satellites will be continuously changing while you're using the system, 100's of connections a day as they pass through the field of view. This is the reason Starlinks speed tests are so erratic, up and down like a yo-yo. The Satellites are susceptible to the weather, clouds, storms, fog, it will all deviate your signal, but hopefully very little as this is out of your control. The trees around you however will also cause interference with your system and this something you hopefully can control.
Every situation is unique and some have had to go to extremes for a clear line of site. Luckily the vast majority of installs will be much simpler, getting Dishy mounted in an area with a 100% visibility is what you need. One little branch from a tree can cause a very large amount of grief, you may not notice it when using the system at first, but once you start a zoom call, or go to play live gaming this is where the branch will start to ‘bud’ into problems.
Network Statistics is another tool you can use to help determine your interference problems. This tool is also found in the homepage of the app under the button statistics. When you're in here you can select outages and see just how many you've had over the 24hr period. If you see a lot of outages in here then suspect trees. We have watched this closely over the last year that we've had our Starlink and this usually stays quite stable when you have a clear line of view. You will probably only have a few seconds of downtime that was hopefully for an update. If it is consistent on here, with outages every few seconds then you're likely getting interference from a tree. There is a slight possibility of it coming from other radio signals too, but this is unlikely.
What are the options?
Well there are 2 main options, move Dishy if possible or trim trees. Depending on your situation, a low lying tree that can easily be trimmed will be much easier than trying to reroute your Dishy to another area. But maybe it's your neighbour's tree and they won't let you touch it, then moving the Dishy it is. In areas covered with large trees your options are going to be limited and will make for more research before finally mounting.
Just because you're in tall trees doesn't mean it won't work well, I'm shocked at some of the areas Dishy can get great signals. Taking the time to use the tools Starlink gives makes a big difference with your experience with Starlink overall. Installing it correctly will give you the least amount of downtime with your system providing you with 1000's of hours of good internet service. Check out our video below to learn more. If you've enjoyed this article then make sure to become a member for free to stay up to date with everything Starlink.