Episode 1: StarLink

My Starling Experience

We have had StarLink for the last 4 months on the beta program.

I applied for the beta back in January and to be honest did not hold out much hope of it ever coming to pass.

We paid the €99 deposit and then waited with bated breath hoping for the best. Finally we received an email letting us know the order was ready to go out and to pay the remaining balance. It was €500 for the equipment. This price may come down in the future as they are looking at producing the kits at a reduced cost.

It is expensive but, where I am in Mayo, Ireland our only other option was 4g broadband. I had been using this for a few years and we would average between 6 and 10 megabits.  Like a lot of workers, I work remotely in the IT sector and it is important to have reliable and fast broadband. 

I’m sure a lot of you have already seen unboxing and set-up videos, so I’m not going to cover that here, as there is no real benefit to you in going over old ground. What I would like to do is give you an overview of my experience with starlink and how it as impacted our day to day lives and any issues we have had with the service.

It should be noted Starlink is just out of beta and there are delays fulfilling orders due to the well know chip shortage..

Set-up

As I mentioned we used to only have 4g broadband which we held onto for a month after receiving the Starlink kit, just in case it did not work as we hoped.

When I received the box, it was a simple case of setting the dish in an area close to the house which was unobstructed by trees etc. The dish will rest almost flat, pointing up and will need about 180 degrees of view. It does this automatically as part of the set-up.

All the cables are connected in the box so there is the dish, the stand, a power supply which powers the dish over a single ‘power over ethernet’ cabled to a router. This power supply also powers the router.

I connected everything up, downloaded the app from the App Store (I have an iPhone). Followed the simple instructions and I was up and running quickly.

We already have an ethernet network in our house so I connected the router to the switch and this then allowed me to share out the Starlink internet access to all the connected devices.

Our house is a reasonably large house and the Starlink router would not be strong enough to provide WIFI throughout the house so, we also have the TPLINK Deco M5 access points installed throughout the house which are cabled back to the switch I mentioned previously. I eventually had the dish mounted on the roof.

I originally had an old 100mb switch which I swapped out for a gigabit switch as the speed of starlink is > 100mb so the switch was a bottle neck. 

Starlink Speed

As far as speed is concerned we usually have over 200mb per second  but this is often 250+. I know this is not as fast as fibre but we cannot get Fiber here and the earliest it will be available through the National Broadband Scheme is January 2025 or as late as December 2026. Remember we were only getting between 6 and 10 mb.

Also, with Starlink you do not get the typical latency issues with other satellite systems which could be up to 700ms. With Starlink it averages around 30/40 ms which means you can use if for Teams/ Zoom calls etc.

Reliability

One issue we have had is that Starlink can go down for no apparent reason. Usually the will only be for a few minutes or seconds but it can be longer. Granted, this does not happen very often. When the beta service launched, Mr. Musk described it ‘better than nothing’ internet, we cannot complain too much as we are in a much better situation than we were in.

One thing I have noticed is Starlink can suffer from a weak signal or no service if there is extremely heavy rain. I’m not talking about a normal rain shower, but extremely rain.

Ongoing Cost

The monthly fee for Starlink is €99 which is expensive for the service, but I am happy pay this as it has made such a difference to my work life and opened up more possibilities as far as home entertainment is concerned. We were able to subscribe to SkyQ and out Netflix viewing has been less stressful. Previously, we would spend a lot of time watching the spinning wheel while if buffered, or the quality of the picture was terrible due to the narrow bandwidth we had at our disposal.

Would I Recommend Starlink?

Well, it depends. Starlink is designed for rural areas and is not for places where you have access to fast broad band over fiber. If you are like me and in a rural setting with no other options and can stomach the initial setup costs and monthly fees then yes I would recommend it.

If you have any questions about my experience with Starlink let me know in the comments section below.

Information on Starlink can be found at https://www.starlink.com.

Watch our Starlink video: https://youtu.be/85k29YPOA-0

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