Starlink is becoming widely available after a few years of limited tests. You might have seen an article about it and wondered if it is worth it. Let’s go over what Starlink is first.
What is Starlink?
Starlink uses a constellation of satellites to connect your devices at home to the Internet. You don’t need to have a subscription with another Internet Service Provider anymore as you can use the satellite of Starlink. In your home, you will still need to use Ethernet cables to connect your devices to the Internet. If you want mobile internet in your home, you will need to install a WiFi router.
Starlink is created by SpaceX. This company uses its own rockets to launch satellites into space. They release hundreds of small satellites that communicate with each other. This makes them less dependent on one system and makes it more reliable.
If one satellite fails, there is always a backup. We have to take into consideration that SpaceX is still building the network so it should improve over time. This is a very expensive project and will take several years before it is fully deployed.
There are not a lot of objects that block the Internet signal in space so these satellites can offer fast internet. You have to point the satellite dish in the right direction to get the best result. This can take some work as you might have to install it on the edge of your roof.
There are other initiatives such as OneWeb or Project Kuiper (a project by Amazon). These are still in the early phases and not accessible to the general public. We might see them come online in the coming years but it could take longer as this is a very complex project.
Is Starlink worth it? Advantages and disadvantages of this network
This depends on your situation. If you live in a rural area or don’t have access to fast Internet, Starlink could be a gamechanger as it can provide a fast and stable connection. It might be the only option for fast Internet in your location.
Starlink can also be used on RVs or moving vehicles that can install the satellite dish. This can make a road trip more fun and engaging. This network should work without interruptions in a lot of locations. If you are going through forests or other areas that can have a disrupted signal, it can be harder to use.
There is a pay-as-you-go plan for this that is flexible for your travel plans. If you don’t need it, you can pause the service. The installation cost is still quite steep at the moment but this will probably go down in the coming years.
If you live in a big city, Starlink might be more expensive than a standard subscription from your Internet Service Provider. You also need to install a satellite dish to get access to Starlink. This dish needs an uninterrupted view of the sky, which is often not available in a city.
If you have access to a fast Internet connection, that option might be better if you stream a lot of videos or have to upload big files. Fiber Internet can offer faster speeds than Starlink can at this point in time. At the moment Starlink is mainly available in the USA, Europe, and parts of South America.
As you can see, there is no black or white answer to the question if Starlink is worth it. You have to take a look at your own situation. For a lot of people, it can have a big impact on how they use the Internet.
We have to note that wireless and wired connections are getting better so Starlink might face stark competition in cities. In rural areas, Starlink will be the only option for several years so, for people in these locations, it is the best choice. We have to note that this is an enormous project and it will take years before the network will reach its full potential. They also have to keep up with the increased demand. We also have to see how long the satellites will last.
Starlink can be used by residential users as well as businesses. Businesses get more advanced features and better support. Some companies need Internet access at all times and Starlink can offer a great backup system to make sure that they are never without critical Internet access.
Users can follow the connection speed in the app and report problems. The app has more than 4 stars on Android and people mention that it is helpful when you want to install the dish as well. The Internet that they offer is pretty stable overall.
Another reason to get Starlink is that you help the exploration of Mars. SpaceX will use the funds that they gather from this project to invest more in their Mars mission. It can provide you with a great feeling that you are contributing to this great adventure. SpaceX might announce perks to its subscribers such as exclusive behind-the-scenes images and movies.
Risks of getting Starlink
The economics of Starlink is still being discovered so it should become clear if the project is viable in the long term. If it isn’t viable, you might be stuck with an expensive satellite dish. Luckily this project is supported by Google and has great engineers working on it. If it doesn’t work out, you can always remove the dish with our guide HERE.
You have to purchase the dish so if Starlink decides to increase the subscription costs, there is not much that you can do as you already bought the hardware. This lockin can be quite annoying and you have to count on the goodwill of the company that they won’t raise prices too much.
If you know the people behind the project, you know that they probably won’t raise prices too much. It is possible that a new version of the satellite comes out and that you will get stuck with a piece of outdated hardware. This is part of getting a new technology though.
To conclude, we can state that Starlink is a game-changer for a lot of people. It has certain limitations (the need for a dish and fiber might be faster) so you need to have realistic expectations when you get it. For most people in rural areas, it can make a big difference. People in cities should probably stick to their current Internet Service Provider.