Is Starlink Worth It? A Detailed Look at Elon Musk‘s Satellite Internet Service

Hey there! As an investment analyst and business data guru, people often ask me whether paying for SpaceX‘s new Starlink satellite internet service is worth the high price tag.

After months of closely studying Starlink‘s performance data and early customer reviews, I believe Starlink provides immense value for rural users or anyone without access to fast cable or fiber internet. But for folks with reliable internet availability already, Starlink is harder to justify despite its cool technology.

In this detailed review, I‘ll walk through all the pros and cons so you can decide if Starlink‘s right for your home or business. I‘ve been crunching the numbers on Starlink‘s speeds, pricing, coverage maps and equipment costs compared to alternatives – here‘s what you need to know:

Starlink Offers Game-Changing Speeds for Rural Users

For rural households and businesses struggling with sluggish DSL, cellular hotspots, or data-capped GEO satellite internet, Starlink is a total game-changer.

Why? SpaceX‘s network of low orbit satellites provides rural users internet speeds and latency previously only available in cities and suburbs.

Starlink Download Speed 50Mbps to 200Mbps
Starlink Upload Speed 10Mbps to 20Mbps
Starlink Latency 31ms to 41ms average

Based on Starlink user speed tests, the average download speed is around 115Mbps in the US – on par with cable internet. The low latency between 20ms to 40ms allows smooth streaming, video calls, and online gaming.

These speeds absolutely crush outdated rural options like 6Mbps DSL, flaky fixed wireless, and geo-satellite internet services throttled to just 25Mbps down.

For rural folks used to turtle-paced internet, being able to video chat in HD and stream 4K Netflix is life-changing.

But Urban Users May Not Notice a Speed Boost

Here‘s the catch – if you already have access to fast cable or fiber speeds of 100+ Mbps, Starlink‘s performance might not seem that impressive in comparison.

Urban users also face more network congestion issues leading to slower speeds as capacity fills up. Since Starlink is optimized for rural areas first, urban subscribers often see download speeds of just 50-150Mbps during peak hours.

There‘s also the issue of brief service drops and inconsistencies as SpaceX continues launching new satellites – not ideal if you require super stable connectivity.

So while I love Starlink‘s technology, for city residents with robust Comcast/Verizon/AT&T availability, sticking with traditional broadband is probably the better value.

Starlink‘s Latency Is a Game-Changer for Online Gaming

Here‘s one huge benefit Starlink delivers even for urban gamers – incredibly low latency. Those satellite signals zipping down from low orbit translate to lag of just 20-40ms.

That‘s as fast as wired broadband latency! Compare that to old-school satellite internet latency over 500ms which made online gaming impossible.

The stability testing firm Ookla found Starlink latency averaged 41ms in Q3 2022 – good enough for smooth competitive gaming, video calls, and live-streaming.

So if fast-twitch online gaming is a priority, Starlink has a strong case even for urban gamers frustrated with cable/fiber latency hovering around 50-60ms.

Starlink Coverage Map: Where is Service Available?

Starlink is rapidly expanding service across the globe, prioritizing remote and rural areas first.

As of January 2023, Starlink coverage includes:

  • Most of the continental US and southern Canada
  • The UK and most of Europe
  • Major metro areas in Australia
  • Parts of South America like Chile and Brazil
  • Select regions of India, Japan and South Africa

You can check for Starlink service at your address by typing it into their website. Even if your location isn‘t covered yet, you can place a deposit to reserve your spot in line.

Based on SpaceX‘s launch schedule, Starlink is expected to achieve near-global coverage by end of 2023 or early 2024.

But remote polar regions like northern Alaska and the tip of Africa will be among the last to get Starlink, as SpaceX prioritizes populous areas first.

Upfront Costs: Purchasing Starlink‘s Equipment

Okay, time to talk pricing – let‘s start with the upfront equipment costs.

Getting Starlink involves installing a small satellite dish, router and cables at your home, priced at a one-time upfront cost:

  • Starlink satellite dish kit: $599
  • Additional cables or mounts: $50-$240

This upfront hardware cost of $599 is far higher than a normal cable/fiber setup. I wish SpaceX offered financing options to make Starlink more affordable for lower-income rural households.

But on the plus side, Starlink‘s equipment is high-quality and designed for durability in harsh outdoor conditions.

You‘ll also need to self-install Starlink‘s dish and cables, as professional installation isn‘t included. The process takes 2-3 hours but Starlink provides a user-friendly app to guide positioning.

If you‘re highly DIY-averse though, paying an electrician or contractor to set up your kit is a possibility.

Ongoing Monthly Costs – Starlink‘s Subscription Plans

In addition to equipment, you‘ll pay a monthly subscription fee to access the satellite network:

Residential $110 per month
RV $135 per month
Portability $135 per month

Starlink helpfully lets you pause or cancel service anytime without early termination fees.

But at $110-$135 per month, the subscription cost is higher than typical cable or DSL broadband. Over several years those monthly fees really add up.

Rural users without other options may find Starlink‘s pricing worthwhile. But for urban users with cable/fiber available, going with a cheaper broadband provider will make more financial sense in most cases.

Starlink‘s Performance Review: The Early Verdict

Starlink only opened to public beta testing in mid-2020, so the service is still early in maturity.

But initial user reviews are very promising, with rural testers raving about the life-changing difference in internet speeds.

A Reddit user in rural Oklahoma measured 97Mbps down / 15Mbps up on Starlink – night and day from their old 1Mbps WISP service.

Early reviews note occasional brief service drops do occur as SpaceX expands capacity. But uptime is vastly better than options like fixed wireless internet prone to weather disruptions.

And latency averaging 31ms enables smooth video calls and gaming. Rural families report Starlink is fast enough for a household full of kids streaming, gaming, and video-conferencing simultaneously.

As the network grows, consistent speed and reliability will reach par with traditional broadband providers. But outages remain a temporary issue to consider currently.

Should You Choose Starlink Over Fixed Wireless?

Okay, final verdict time. Let‘s compare Starlink to common rural internet options:

Starlink vs Fixed Wireless

I don‘t recommend fixed wireless providers like Rise Broadband over Starlink for most rural users.

While cheaper than Starlink with no dish required, fixed wireless suffers frequent network congestion and weather disruptions.

The distance between your home and radio towers greatly limits speeds – Fixed wireless often crawls below 10Mbps down.

Starlink‘s satellite network provides far more reliable uptime and faster speeds. The only cases where I‘d pick fixed wireless are for homes in deep valleys or forests where the dish can‘t connect to satellites.

Starlink vs DSL

Slowpoke DSL simply can‘t compete with Starlink‘s performance. Maxing out at just 10-25Mbps, rural DSL feels useless in the streaming era.

The only scenarios where I‘d recommend DSL are for users with a tight budget, or as a backup in case Starlink has an outage.

Starlink vs Legacy Satellite

Avoid painfully pokey legacy satellite providers like Viasat or HughesNet if Starlink‘s available in your area.

Latency over 500ms makes activities like video calls and gaming impossible. And strict data caps of just 50GB per month prevent binge streaming.

Starlink runs laps around legacy satellite for speed, latency and unlimited data. Paying 3X more for Viasat or HughesNet makes zero logical sense if you can get Starlink.

The Bottom Line: Who Should Get Starlink?

For rural residents dealing with ancient DSL, molasses-slow satellite internet, or constantly buffering fixed wireless, Starlink is a godsend.

The price tag may be steep, but after suffering through rural internet woes for decades, Starlink finally offers modern broadband speeds. I wholeheartedly recommend rural users get Starlink where available.

But for urban dwellers with access to fast cable or fiber, Starlink isn‘t very compelling currently. Until network capacity grows, urban speeds may not exceed your existing provider.

Starlink‘s exciting potential makes me hopeful for the future. But satellite internet still has some maturing to do before it beats terrestrial for city users. Rural subscribers get to enjoy the bleeding edge.

Well, that wraps up my in-depth Starlink review! Let me know if you have any other questions. I‘m happy to dig into the numbers to help determine if Starlink‘s worthwhile for your situation. Stay safe and talk soon!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.