This week I am staying on a property in a rural part of the Australian east coast. It is not remote – it is just out of the range of 4G internet and until recently the only option for internet has been the National Broadband Network’s Sky Muster via satellite.
Sky Muster is terrible. It is expensive, and slow, and unreliable and the data caps can be blown in just one day. But, hey, it was better than nothing.
Then along comes Starlink from SpaceX from, well, you know who. Wow. This service is out of this world, literally and figuratively. The speeds are incredible, the latency is low, the set-up is a simple self-install, and you don’t have to think about reliability. Everything you need to know is here.
At my residence in an urban area where I have fibre to the curb (copper over the last 50 metres), I pay USD70 (AUD 100) a month for 100 Mbps down unlimited. Starlink is more expensive at USD95 (AUD 140) a month, plus the hardware costs USD300 (AUD450) and delivery at USD70 (AUD100). Starlink data is also unlimited. The speeds I am getting at the rural property on Starlink are between 100 Mbps and 250 Mbps. Latency at home on fibre is around 30 milliseconds. On Starlink, it is 40 milliseconds. All in all, it is an incredible service.
Being the geek I am, I looked at the technology behind Starlink. It is mind-blowing. It involves low-orbiting satellites which, as the term implies, are much closer to earth than conventional satellites. And there are lots of them. The BBC has this easy read on Starlink and an image is below. If you want to nerd-out, watch this video from Branch Education.
The whole Starklink process starts with your iPhone. You download the app and then go outside, waving the phone around to see if you can connect to Starlink. From where I am in Australia, you need a clear view of the southern sky. Once I got the green light, the property owner was able to order and self-install. You then get a family-pizza-size dish from the box, plug it in and internal motors move it around to create a connection with space. The lead from the dish to the router appears to be 20 or 30 metres. The router it comes with is elegant and simple. All in all, it is an incredible acquisition, sales, fulfilment, set-up and commissioning process and user experience. Over time, I am sure the price will fall to have parity with cable and 5G based services.
The potential for Starlink is huge. It’s also a revolution for regional parts of every country, opening up new business and social opportunities. You can, if you like, have a normal internet experience, exactly the same as someone in a big city, even though you could be in the middle of nowhere and not see other people, in person, for days. Starlink will help bring the gap between city and country.