Starlink – The Intergalactic Internet Service

Published: 9 November 2021

You’d have to have been living on another planet not to be aware of the recent space race antics of Elon Musk.

But what is less well known is another element of Musk’s space exploration – the launch of a new internet service ‘Starlink.’

Starlink is a high-speed, low latency – i.e. able to process a high volume of data with minimal delay – broadband internet service. It operates via satellite dishes installed at your home or business and is delivered by thousands of satellites that have been put in space by Musk’s SpaceX company.

Launched in October 2020, Starlink delivers an initial beta (still in testing phase) service both domestically and internationally, with users expected to see data speeds from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s. Ideally suited to places where connectivity is difficult, such as rural areas, Starlink claims that speed and connectivity will improve as extra satellites are launched and more ground stations are installed.

Currently available in 17 countries globally, the service is tipped to be a key rival for other internet providers. But is it reliable and does it offer a service that keeps pace with the competition? An early adopter of Starlink, Lifeline IT’s Daniel Mitchell gives his view on how he’s finding it up to now.

Said Daniel: “It is still a very new service but so far, so good. It was quite a long wait to get it but it was very easy to install and set up.

“There are three main elements to the internet – band width, latency and contention (i.e. the number of people on the circuit). Virgin – who I was with before – has always been big on band width but with Starlink, it’s more about latency and contention. There’s no point having great band width if there’s a huge number of people using the service.

“Cost wise it’s about £80 a month including VAT, which compares to about £55/£60 for Virgin. The cons are that because it works off a satellite dish, you need a clean line of sight to the dish or it has to go on the roof. Therefore, it will be difficult to install in flats and apartments, especially where the landlord’s permission is needed.

“I think the main take from it is that it’s another great option and I suspect once Starlink gets out of beta phase, it will be an even more efficient alternative for those who struggle with connectivity.”

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