Starlink Internet

 

At this point, Starlink is offering satellite based internet service on it's beta test platform to customers in certain locations in North America. The geographical coverage will increase as more satellites are launched.

The beta service recently became available at my location in northeastern PA. I paid the $99 signup fee and added my name to the waiting list. The dish and receiver will be shipped when it becomes available. When that happens, there is a one time equipment fee of $499 and the service cost is $99 per month. Speeds range from 60 to 180mbs with a 25ms latency. There is no data cap and no per gigabyte charge (unlimited service).

https://www.starlink.com/

For some, $99 is a bit spendy for high speed internet service but in my rural location, it is the only alternative to woefully slow DSL.

There is a app available for Android & iPhone which lets you determine whether or not a particular dish location is suitable.

Starlink will not offer much online information until the service is formally rolled out. There is a lot of buzz on other forums about the product if anyone is interested.

https://www.tractorbynet.com/forums/threads/starlink.418734/

https://www.reddit.com/r/Starlink/

I'm curious what to expect when my equipment arrives. Does anyone here have the new Starlink internet service and if so, how is it's performance.

high price

That is a high price for equipment and monthly charge. In order to succeed, they must attract plenty of subscribers. That's not going to happen.

Satellites are expensive. How can they make this work?

dobs108 smile

Not just the satellites

For the most part the reason for no Starlink service in an area is a ground station. The low orbit satellites connect between you and the ground station. That's why the customer dish is geo locked. That may go away in the future so that it will become portable for RV owners for example.

From the videos posted it appears that most are very pleased with the service. It is not for folks with another good internet connection available. Friend of mine recently bought a vacation property. It has satellite internet. Not Starlink. It's absolutely horrible. More expensive then Starlink. Latency is extremely high. Pings of 400 to 500 ms. Data limits with extremely high overage charges. He has applied to get the Starlink system.

I'd be reluctant to consider

I'd be reluctant to consider the offering until such time as it is out of beta. In the beta phase I would certainly want the right to cancel before parting with the $499. There are some reviews, one in particular at https://www.theverge.com/22435030/starlink-satellite-interne....

The review summary states "But right now it is also very much a beta product that is unreliable, inconsistent, and foiled by even the merest suggestion of trees."

Considering it is beta, I can understand most of the concerns, but the comment "foiled by even the merest suggestion of trees" is a potential nail in the coffin.

--
John from PA

It's Relative

dobs108 wrote:

That is a high price for equipment and monthly charge. In order to succeed, they must attract plenty of subscribers. That's not going to happen.

Satellites are expensive. How can they make this work?

dobs108 smile

The equipment cost will come down with time. There will also be rental plans available, similar to some satellite TV companies.

I don't know what the average cost of internet service is today. I know it's cheaper if bundled with other services. Unfortunately, none of these companies are available in my rural area. In my case, I pay Verizon $70 per month for their crappy DSL service. Unfortunately, it's my only option. Outages are frequent and the speed is ridiculously slow.

To me, it's a no brainer to pay $29 per month more for almost 10 times the bandwidth. Many won't agree and the service isn't for everyone but Starlink looks to be a godsend for those of us who live in the sticks.

Pun intended...

bdhsfz6 wrote:

Many won't agree and the service isn't for everyone but Starlink looks to be a godsend for those of us who live in the sticks.

You missed a key line in the review

Quote:

..."foiled by even the merest suggestion of trees"

--
John from PA

I have it--you want it if your other options stink

I've watched various SpaceX efforts with interest for years. I signed up for Starlink as soon as I could, and took delivery on my dish and extra installation equipment in late April.

I was able to install the dish at a position on my roof from which there are zero trees or other obstructions that reach 25 degrees above the horizon. That turns out to be better than needed in all directions except north.

The trickiest part of installation was the necessary hole in my wall. I fretted about possibly hitting a power line or such, but used a stud sensor with extra capabilities to gain pretty good confidence that my chosen location next to the hole by which cable comes into my house was safe.

In Albuquerque, NM, I am almost as far south as SpaceX has yet shipped service routinely in the USA, and in the early months I suffered several minutes per day of service interruption due to no satellites usefully in view. As of August 3, that has stopped altogether, as more satellites have been launched, and more of those already launched have precessed and burned their way to their intended operating orbits.

As Musk himself says, this system is not intended to be a competitive option in well served urban areas. It lacks the user density capacity to serve more than a tiny fraction of potential users in a place such as the LA basin. It is more expensive to the end user than good fiber is in many locations in the world.

But it is fabulously superior in price and performance to available options for many people around the world who are as a little as a mile away from the beaten path.

If you are happy with your current Internet service and are paying less than $100/month for it, don't even consider Starlink. If you live in a cabin "out there", and have horrible Internet service at a high price, and can see your way to putting your antenna in a location with a good view of the sky, it may just be the happiest purchase you have made.

Since we are on a GPS forum, it should surprise no one that the Starlink signals, which are even higher frequency than our GPS signals, can't "see" through much of anything. Unlike GPS, Starlink is currently only trying to connect to one satellite at a time, so any obstruction (yes, a leaf on a tree is an obstruction) within the candidate stretch of sky is a problem. But lots of people who have bought the service have been able to get to zero obstructions. I have, just by choosing a good place on my roof. Some others have had to cut some trees, or build a bit of a tower, or ...

--
personal GPS user since 1992

Cost of equipment.

Don't count on the equipment cost going down soon. SpaceX has stated the cost of end user equipment is just over $1,000.

Have you tried any latency

Have you tried any latency sensitive use cases, like gaming? I mean it's better than having really slow (< 1 Mbit) in some parts of the US, but I'm wondering how is it.

Latency

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starlink

“… Internet traffic via a geostationary satellite has a minimum theoretical round-trip latency of at least 477 milliseconds (ms; between user and ground gateway), but in practice, current satellites have latencies of 600 ms or more. Starlink satellites are orbiting at 1⁄105 to 1⁄30 of the height of geostationary orbits, and thus offer more practical Earth-to-sat latencies of around 25 to 35 ms, comparable to existing cable and fiber networks. …”

That means total up-and-down latency is 100 ms to 140ms. The components are 1) a trip up, 2) a trip down, 3) usual latency of ground ISP to website host and back, 4) up, and 5) down. When they say earth-to-sat I presume that they don't mean earth-to-sat-to-earth.

“… In October 2020, SpaceX launched a paid-for beta service in the U.S. called "Better Than Nothing Beta", charging US$499 for a user terminal, with an expected service of "50 Mbps to 150 Mbps and latency from 20 ms to 40 ms over the next several months". …”

“… SpaceX has made applications to the FCC for at least 32 ground stations in United States, and as of July 2020 has approvals for 5 of them (in 5 states).[199] SpaceX's ground stations would also be installed on-site at Google data-centers world-wide. ...”

This is less clear but I infer that here they they are saying that the total up-and-down latency is 100 ms to 160 ms, about the same.

Does the immediate satellite that you are connected to also connect directly to the a ground station? If it is not directly connected then you have to add satellite to satellite communications and latency in two directions.

Perhaps all ~3,000 Starlink satellites, all in low earth orbit, will directly connect to a ground station. I don’t know.

That sounds kinda expensive

That sounds kinda expensive for a beta tester. Do you also have to hire someone to install the dish? That's typically not a DIY although it can be done.

no laser links in the current main constellation

minke wrote:

Does the immediate satellite that you are connected to also connect directly to the a ground station?

While laser links between satellites have been part of the plan from the beginning, they turned out to be expensive to develop and are currently flying only on a couple of experimental birds and one batch of ten in polar orbit.

So the current operational reality is that the user terminal talks directly to just one satellite at a time, and that one satellite talks directly to a ground station, which in turn is connected to the backbone Internet. The choice of satellite for your terminal is reconsidered once every 15 seconds, and you can easily spot the frequent actual changes by abrupt shifts in latency.

As they don't plan to get a network of ground stations in either Antarctica or the far north, the higher inclination orbit birds will all have laser links from the very beginning, with one first batch of 10 having already launched. The last disclosed plan was for about six launches of polar inclination satellites with laser links before the end of this year, but some recent rumblings suggest that phase may be being put off a bit.

--
personal GPS user since 1992

Current users have nearly all done their own install

sunsetrunner wrote:

Do you also have to hire someone to install the dish? That's typically not a DIY although it can be done.

As I mentioned, this thing is not really aimed at residents of apartment buildings in high density urban areas. A large fraction of the suitable customer base seems to find the installation effort surprisingly easy. I read a user forum extensively, and have come across very few cases of people hiring someone else to do their installation. Tens of thousands of us have done our own, including me. (72-year old man with back trouble)

More people have been troubled by finding that their trees or other obstructions require significant investment to achieve an obstruction free installation position.

--
personal GPS user since 1992

video

Here is a video by someone that seems to be a fair review. Crude initial install to see if it works. Speed testing and and a good explanation why it's better then what he had.

https://youtu.be/9ypyDyOUc98

At our age stay off the ladder

archae86 wrote:

A large fraction of the suitable customer base seems to find the installation effort surprisingly easy. I read a user forum extensively, and have come across very few cases of people hiring someone else to do their installation. Tens of thousands of us have done our own, including me. (72-year old man with back trouble)

More people have been troubled by finding that their trees or other obstructions require significant investment to achieve an obstruction free installation position.

At our age, stay off the ladder. As a ladder professional, a former member of a ladder company in a busy city fire department, I have routinely climbed 100-foot (31 meters) ladders, extension ladders, used safety harnesses, and rappelled down the side of buildings. All of this under conditions such as winter ice, smoke, flames, and wind.

I no longer climb ladders at my house and pay a pro to do the job. Recently in the next county, a pastor fell off the ladder while cleaning gutters at his church. He was one story up and was killed instantly.

100k shipped.

Elon Musk tweeted 100k terminals shipped.

Should speed up

billybovine wrote:

Elon Musk tweeted 100k terminals shipped.

Gwynne Shotwell (who currently spends a good bit of her time on Starlink, while Elon is mostly spending his SpaceX time on Starship) has repeatedly said that User Terminal production has been held back in recent months by electronic parts availability (apparently even though the antenna physical structure is pretty interesting, they can build those faster than they can buy the parts to populate the huge circuit board). Just a few days ago she mentioned in a speech that she expected the parts availability to get a lot better about October.

More User Terminals won't help them to add users in currently filled up cells (for that they need more satellites), but there are many, many places where the currently operating satellites could serve more users than they have.

--
personal GPS user since 1992

Not Applicable

John from PA wrote:
bdhsfz6 wrote:

Many won't agree and the service isn't for everyone but Starlink looks to be a godsend for those of us who live in the sticks.

You missed a key line in the review

Quote:

..."foiled by even the merest suggestion of trees"

No pun intended but it would have been appropriate smile

I read it but it doesn't apply. My house is in the middle of a former cornfield with no nearby trees.

The Starlink app projects a perfect signal.

Good Advice!

dobs108 wrote:
archae86 wrote:

A large fraction of the suitable customer base seems to find the installation effort surprisingly easy. I read a user forum extensively, and have come across very few cases of people hiring someone else to do their installation. Tens of thousands of us have done our own, including me. (72-year old man with back trouble)

More people have been troubled by finding that their trees or other obstructions require significant investment to achieve an obstruction free installation position.

At our age, stay off the ladder. As a ladder professional, a former member of a ladder company in a busy city fire department, I have routinely climbed 100-foot (31 meters) ladders, extension ladders, used safety harnesses, and rappelled down the side of buildings. All of this under conditions such as winter ice, smoke, flames, and wind.

I no longer climb ladders at my house and pay a pro to do the job. Recently in the next county, a pastor fell off the ladder while cleaning gutters at his church. He was one story up and was killed instantly.

Like you, I know too many people who have been killed or injured in ladder related falls.

I'm 74 and gave up using anything but a stepladder. 10 years ago, I installed a safety ladder system from my deck up to the roof. I use it to service several pieces of equipment I have mounted up there.

Good Post!

archae86 wrote:

I've watched various SpaceX efforts with interest for years. I signed up for Starlink as soon as I could, and took delivery on my dish and extra installation equipment in late April.

I was able to install the dish at a position on my roof from which there are zero trees or other obstructions that reach 25 degrees above the horizon. That turns out to be better than needed in all directions except north.

The trickiest part of installation was the necessary hole in my wall. I fretted about possibly hitting a power line or such, but used a stud sensor with extra capabilities to gain pretty good confidence that my chosen location next to the hole by which cable comes into my house was safe.

In Albuquerque, NM, I am almost as far south as SpaceX has yet shipped service routinely in the USA, and in the early months I suffered several minutes per day of service interruption due to no satellites usefully in view. As of August 3, that has stopped altogether, as more satellites have been launched, and more of those already launched have precessed and burned their way to their intended operating orbits.

As Musk himself says, this system is not intended to be a competitive option in well served urban areas. It lacks the user density capacity to serve more than a tiny fraction of potential users in a place such as the LA basin. It is more expensive to the end user than good fiber is in many locations in the world.

But it is fabulously superior in price and performance to available options for many people around the world who are as a little as a mile away from the beaten path.

If you are happy with your current Internet service and are paying less than $100/month for it, don't even consider Starlink. If you live in a cabin "out there", and have horrible Internet service at a high price, and can see your way to putting your antenna in a location with a good view of the sky, it may just be the happiest purchase you have made.

Since we are on a GPS forum, it should surprise no one that the Starlink signals, which are even higher frequency than our GPS signals, can't "see" through much of anything. Unlike GPS, Starlink is currently only trying to connect to one satellite at a time, so any obstruction (yes, a leaf on a tree is an obstruction) within the candidate stretch of sky is a problem. But lots of people who have bought the service have been able to get to zero obstructions. I have, just by choosing a good place on my roof. Some others have had to cut some trees, or build a bit of a tower, or ...

Great post! Pretty much explains it all.

Thanks for your personal experience.

Importance of good Internet service.

A few years ago when my wife and I were house shopping, we passed on a house we really liked in a nearby small town because they had few options for Internet, and all of them would have been a significant downgrade from what we were used to at the time. Maybe if Starlink had been available then we would have given consideration to that property.

--
Alan - Android Auto, DriveLuxe 51LMT-S, DriveLuxe 50LMTHD, Nuvi 3597LMTHD, Oregon 550T, Nuvi 855, Nuvi 755T, Lowrance Endura Sierra, Bosch Nyon

starlink

alandb wrote:

A few years ago when my wife and I were house shopping, we passed on a house we really liked in a nearby small town because they had few options for Internet, and all of them would have been a significant downgrade from what we were used to at the time. Maybe if Starlink had been available then we would have given consideration to that property.

Indeed. Starlink and its future competitors will have a dedicated customer base from people not connected with fiber or terrestrial broadband. If technology improves to require smaller antennas (not likely, but who knows what physics magic awaits us), then there are fare more use cases besides providing internet to buildings.