Are you interested in Starlink or satellite broadband? Have you heard about Starlink and Elon Musk in the news and wanted to know more? If so, this guide is for you.
We'll briefly discuss what Starlink and satellite broadband is, how it differs from standard broadband, how much it costs, what you need to use it, and whether you can get it.
What is satellite broadband?
Satellite broadband uses satellites to link you to the internet rather than a cable.
Standard broadband uses your phone, fibre, or cable connection to link you to the internet.
Satellite broadband uses a small satellite dish to broadcast your internet traffic into space to a satellite. From there it's transmitted to a ground station and then onto the internet.
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a private company run by Tesla-owner Elon Musk. It uses low orbit satellites all around the earth to provide internet access.
The system is called a 'constellation' and will eventually be a net of hundreds of satellites providing fast, low-latency broadband access to anywhere on the planet.
How much does Starlink cost?
At the moment, Starlink is quite expensive as it's new and slowly being released.
The hardware to enable the connection currently costs £529 to buy plus £55 postage and packing.
The service costs £89 per month.
That price will eventually come down once the satellites have all been launched and Starlink has more customers. For now, it's an expensive proposition!
How fast is Starlink broadband?
Exact speeds vary depending on how many satellites are within reach of your location and how many other customers are using it.
Ookla measured median download speed of 121Mbps and upload speed of 13.98Mbps.
That's pretty good for an internet connection and certainly faster than many broadband options outside big cities.
A key advantage of Starlink is low latency.
Latency is the response time of a connection; how long it takes to send data and receive a response.
The longer the delay, the higher the latency.
As you can imagine, high latency would become a problem as you would be continually waiting for your commands to be translated into actions.
Most satellite broadband services suffer from very high latency because of the time it takes to transfer data between the ground and space. However, Starlink satellites orbit much closer to the earth than normal, so latency is very similar to what you would get using standard broadband.
One note of caution though. Starlink currently has finite bandwidth. The more people that use it, the more internet traffic will be competing for bandwidth.
That will eventually mean that traffic may slow down as more customers use it.
Can I get Starlink broadband in my area?
Starlink is being rolled out across the world and isn't available everywhere yet.
If you're interested in finding out if you can get it, you can use this map to find out.
If your region is blue, it's available in your area. If it isn't, you'll have to wait a little while.
Starlink is an amazing achievement and could revolutionise internet access. If you live somewhere remote with slow broadband, it could genuinely be the solution you need!