With all the buzz around SpaceX’s Starlink Internet, you may have already heard about it. SpaceX Starlink internet service uses satellites in low earth orbit to provide high-speed internet service to remote locations. A satellite is used to transmit a signal to your dish wherever it may be set up, in our case our home.
Starlink’s Beta program became available to us in Rural Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada on February 8th, 2021. We were amongst the first Beta testers in our location, here’s a post of when we first received Starlink. Once our order was placed, we received the kit 3 weeks later on March 2, 2021. From what I’ve recently been reading on social media, this was quite a fast turnaround.
We set up the satellite affectionately nick-named “Dishy McFlatface” by Elon Musk (CEO of Starlink) the same day it was received. We placed it on the deck, knowing that this wouldn’t be its final spot. We figured as long as it was operational we could get an understanding of how it works and just how good it was. After having it on the deck for a short time, we did see a large number of obstructions (due to the tree coverage) and ordered the poll converter to mount it onto the side of our house. When we received the poll converter it was the middle of winter, we decided it was a bit risky going up on our metal roof at that time. We had all intentions of getting it up sooner than we did, but it was already working well enough and there were always “other” things that needed to get done around the house.
We opted for a DIY installation that did not require holes to be placed in the metal roof. We used galvanized 3/4 inch piping to secure a satellite pole to the side of the structure projecting over 6ft above the roofline. We then fed the hardwired 100ft cable through the attic, blindly down between the walls with its final exit being on the lower level of our house.
When we first set up Starlink we felt that the service was good enough, but far from perfect. It has definitely improved since then.
We have multiple devices set up to automatically connect to Starlink. We have some tree obstruction which affects the performance but the majority of the time we don’t notice any difference to when we are connected to our LTE. Most apps such as Netflix work well but we are still seeing issues while using VoIP and with social media (Facebook) images not loading or loading very slowly. This typically requires a refresh or in some cases a start over, otherwise in these instances we use our LTE back-up. As Starlink increases its constellations we expect the requirement for our LTE back-up to be reduced or not even required.
The drop-out times have also improved and now the majority of the time they aren’t even noticed. Overall Starlink offers a pretty solid high-speed internet connection.
The Starlink App
Our house is surrounded by trees, there’s not really anywhere that we can put dishy that would give a full unobstructed view of the sky. Through Starlink’s mobile app there is a way for users to not only check for obstructions but it will actually show you a display of exactly where those obstructions are. We are now seeing way fewer obstructions compared to when we first installed Starlink, this is mainly due to the change in location, as well as more satellites having been launched. We will likely always have some obstructions due to the tree coverage, but this will only continue to improve as more satellites are added to the constellation. Through the app, you can also run speed tests, as well as get the network statistics ie. uptime, latency, and usage.
Four Seasons With Starlink
Starlink has worked just fine in all of our Canadian seasons. From experiencing the end of a cold Canadian winter with lots of snow and ice, heavy rainfalls, and hot summer days, it has proven to be effective and durable. When spring arrived with the foliage our internet was very spotty and we were experiencing constant short outages due to obstructions (a couple of seconds at a time). Since putting “Dishy” in its final spot on the side of the house we are seeing nowhere near the same number of obstructions.
The End Of Beta
Big News!! On September 17th, 2021, Elon Musk tweeted:
The end of the beta means that Starlink is now confident in the service.
Starlink works great for our family with an LTE backup for things like VoIP because of our obstructions. While at this time we cannot rely solely on Starlink due to my husband’s work, we have greatly reduced our reliance on LTE and cut the huge associated bills in half. As Starlink continues to improve the constellation and software we expect to see our use of LTE diminish even further.
Starlink is an easy way to get fast, reliable internet. It might take some time to receive your Starlink kit but once you have it, it sure is worth the wait!