SpaceX’s Starlink Internet: How Much Is It and Should You Get It?
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter’s largest shareholder, has another venture that may be less familiar to you — but could have a big impact on the lives of people around the world. It’s Starlink, and it aims to provide high-speed internet access to people who don’t currently have it.
What Is Starlink?
Starlink is a division of Musk’s SpaceX company. It is unique because it uses a constellation of multiple satellites that orbit only about 550 km above the earth, reducing latency and improving performance. As a space company, SpaceX can launch its own satellites, unlike any other provider.
Starlink launched its first prototype satellites in 2018 and had working satellites the following year. Once the program got going, it ramped up quickly. CNBC reported that Starlink had 145,000 users in January 2022, but in May 2022, the company reported 400,000 subscribers.
Demand is still outstripping supply, and potential subscribers can pre-order and put down a deposit to get on the waitlist. It could be sometime in 2023 before they get service.
The good news is that Starlink is quickly addressing the issues by launching new satellites into orbit regularly. Today, the company has more than 3,000 satellites in low-Earth orbit.
Speed and Reliability
As Starlink continues to expand, its customer base speeds are beginning to slow due to strain on the company’s infrastructure. According to Ars Technica, average download speeds fell from 90.6 Mbps to 62.5 Mbps from the first to the second quarter of 2022. Average upload speeds declined, falling from 9.3 Mbps to 7.2 Mbps and median latency — which is how long your device takes to respond to a request — rose from 43 ms to 48 ms.
Ookla reports that median download speeds fell as much as 54% between the second quarters of 2021 and 2022. However, Speedtest Intelligence still places Starlink as the satellite provider with the fastest speed among competitors like HughesNet and Viasat. While slower than broadband and losing speed compared to a year ago, it’s still the best option for download and upload speeds and latency.
How Is Starlink Installed?
When you order Starlink internet, you’ll get the link, a wifi router, cables and a base. A Starlink app for iOS and Android will help you determine the best installation location since it needs a clear view of the sky to connect. From there, the system is plug-and-play.
When Can I Get Starlink Internet?
Starlink is currently available in 32 countries, including most U.S. states, and is working to bring services to more regions as quickly as possible.
Will Starlink Give You Internet Anywhere?
Starlink currently provides limited availability. As of May 2022, Starlink was available in parts of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Brazil, and all European countries as well as 28 other countries. Though, there are a few areas including Russia, China, Belarus, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan, where it appears there are no plans to make it available.
How Much Is Starlink Internet?
Internet from Starlink costs $110 per month for residential use, plus you pay a one-time charge of $599 for the hardware. Starlink Business — with twice the antenna capability of the residential offering plus higher throughput and faster internet speeds — costs $500 per month with a one-time equipment cost of $2,500. Digital nomads can access Starlink internet wherever it’s available for $135 per month plus $599 for the hardware.
How Long Does It Take To Get Starlink?
The RV package was recently introduced with no waiting list — you can get a dish as soon as you sign up. For the residential and business packages, you may need to wait until 2023.
Is Starlink Worth It?
Starlink internet shines in areas that are not currently served by fixed broadband internet. Internet users living in rural areas would see a marked increase in speed and performance with Starlink compared to other satellite internet providers, making it well worth the cost.
Moreover, most satellite providers have high-speed coverage caps. Starlink doesn’t have these caps, giving those who live in rural areas a more reliable connection.
Starlink satellite internet is ideal for those who live in rural areas where high-speed internet is either cost-prohibitive or simply unavailable and could benefit greatly from the service — making the service a strong consideration for many. If that defines you, consider signing up today.
Karen Doyle contributed to the reporting for this article.
Information is accurate as of Oct. 21, 2022.
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- Space Explored. 2022. "When can I get Starlink? New availability map shows waitlisted / currently available locations."
- CNBC. 2022. "SpaceX’s Starlink internet service has more than 145,000 users so far."
- Space.com. 2019. "SpaceX's 1st Starlink Internet Satellite Megaconstellation Launch in Photos!"
- NPR. 2022. "Elon Musk just became Twitter's largest shareholder."
- Ookla. 2022. "Starlink Slowed in Q2, Competitors Mounting Challenges."
- BBC. 2022. "Starlink: Why is Elon Musk launching thousands of satellites?"
- Starlink Hardware. 2022. "How Long Is The Waitlist For Starlink?"
- Ars Technica. 2022. "Starlink is getting a lot slower as more people use it, speed tests show."
- PC Mag. 2022. "SpaceX to Launch Starlink Satellites Every Week to Build Second-Gen Network."