SpaceX Starlink Internet, For Rural Living It’s A Big Deal

Starlink set-up with "Dishy" in its temporary spot / what was received in the Kit.
Starlink set-up with “Dishy” in its temporary spot / what was received in the Kit.

When we decided to leave the city and move to a rural property, good internet was a major consideration. We had been looking at rural and lakefront properties for years and one of the reasons that we never went ahead with it was because we felt that we needed a wired connection. With my husband working from home and us generally wanting to have internet access, good internet was non-negotiable. The house we moved to is located in Rural Uxbridge Ontario, it’s amongst rolling hills and more specifically in a valley. The previous homeowner used Xplornet and from all the reviews we’d read, we knew this was going to be an issue (we were right). This being said we didn’t let it stop us from purchasing our home, as we knew Starlink (Starlink is a low latency satellite-based internet service) was going to be an option for us in the not-so-distant future ‘Thank you Elon!’. The day we took possession of the house we did have another provider come to the property to let us know if we could use their services and it would’ve been possible, but it would involve erecting a 20ft eyesore of a poll with a hefty $5k price tag.

The cell phone provider who we have been using for years while in Toronto was Virgin Mobility (who uses the Bell network). Unfortunately after moving to Uxbridge, we realized their services would no longer work for us in our new location. We attempted to purchase a LinkyKey through Bell, so we could potentially set up our internet. It didn’t work out and we had a horrible experience in the end. We paid for the Key, but it never arrived which resulted in 8 months of phone calls and emails before we finally received a refund. We switched to Rogers and have experienced excellent service, however this service came at a hefty price tag. My husband and I each opted for the $175 per month plan. This included 100GB of data; giving us a combined total of 200GB per month. Between my husband’s work, my son’s online learning (due to the pandemic), and our streaming, this was not enough…this resulted in our bill being over $400 per month.

When we moved Starlink was not yet available in our area, but we had requested to be a part of Starlink’s “Better Than Nothing” Beta program. On February 8th, 2021 we received the email “Starlink is now available in limited supply in your service area”. If you could have seen my husband’s reaction, you would have thought we had just won the lottery. Within 5 minutes of us having received the email, our order was placed and confirmed. The fee for the Starlink kit was CAD$806.82, this included: wifi router, power supply, cables, and mounting tripod. After 3 weeks we received the kit. The day we received it we set it up on our deck and it was operational, but obstructed. This will not be ‘Dishy McFlatface’s’ final spot, after a trial period and understanding the extent of the obstructions on our service, we immediately ordered the poll converter to mount it onto the side of our house.

The dish, on McFlatface
The dish, on McFlatface

We first set up Starlink on March 2, 2021. Overall the service was good enough that we were able to cut down on our paid data through Rogers, but it was far from perfect. Now that it’s spring and the foliage has emerged (the image below shows dishy visibly in the shade of the trees, along with a speed test result) our internet is very spotty, we’re seeing a big difference- not in a good way. We can receive anything from 200Mbps to 20Mbps but experience constant short outages due to obstructions (a couple of seconds at a time), at this time it’s mainly useful for streaming, buffering will make up for those outages.

We’re excited to see how much better the service is once we mount the satellite in a location without obstructions and if we can further reduce our expensive LTE plan. Stay tuned for that update! Even with all the problems we’ve experienced, it’s still better than Xplornet. We’ve had to endure almost a year of rural internet services that are notoriously slow and unreliable, so we are beyond excited about the game-changer that is Starlink!

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