Starlink isn’t meant to replace cable internet. Cable internet is always cheaper and faster than Starlink. However, If you live in an area where cable internet isn’t available, Starlink could be an excellent choice.
Between cellular internet, HughesNet, Viasat, Starlink, Verizon, T-mobile, and low-grade DSL, Starlink internet provides the best value for money and is worth every penny. Starlink offers high-speed unlimited data at a competitive price compared to other services.
However, if your current home internet is faster than 100Mbps and the cost is less than $110/month, then don’t purchase Starlink.
Even though Elon Musk has said that the Starlink terminal would reach 1 Gbps speed over time, residential users wouldn’t benefit from it. This high speed is meant for high-paying commercial users such as Airlines, the US military, government entities, or businesses.
Unlimited Internet at a Competitive Price
According to Starlink legal documents, the following performance is expected –
[Table] Starlink Performance. Both of these packages have unlimited data.
|Package||Download Speed (Mbps)||Upload Speed (Mbps)||Price/Month|
Verizon’s lowest phone plan starts at $70, and its 5G is only available in select cities. Outside, either 4G or 3G is available.
On Verizon 4G LTE, the typical download speed ranges from 9-56 Mbps, and the upload speed varies from 2-13 Mbps. However, the download speed slows down during peak network use.
[Table] T-Mobile Service Plan for 1 Line (source).
|Service Plan||Price / Month||Data Limit / Month|
HughesNet and Viasat deliver satellite internet. Unlike SpaceX’s Starlink, which uses low earth orbit satellites, HughesNet and Viasat use geostationary satellites to provide their internet.
Geostationary satellites are placed 22,236 miles (35,785km) above the earth. As these satellites are too far from the ground, only a handful of them are necessary to provide coverage to the entire planet. However, as these satellites are too far from earth, the internet speed is painfully slow.
On the contrary, Starlink satellites are typically placed 350-550km above the earth. Therefore, even though it requires too many satellites for worldwide coverage, its internet is significantly faster.
A recent report from SpeedTest shows that Starlink is 5 times faster than HughesNet and Viasat and has a very competitive speed compared to cable internet.
[Table] Internet speed comparison between Starlink, Viasat, HughesNet, and cable.
|Internet Service Provider||Download Speed (Mbps)||Upload Speed (Mbps)||Latency (ms)|
For homes and offices, one needs unlimited internet data. Watching streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and DisneyPlus is impossible without limitless data.
Both HughesNet and Viasat provide only capped internet. In contrast, Starlink provides unlimited internet without any data cap.
Starlinks’ monthly plan costs $110. There are no bandwidth limits and no long-term contracts — however, there’s a $600 one-time hardware cost.
[Table] HughesNet Service Plan and Prices
|Monthly Data Cap||Monthly Price||Max Speed|
|15 GB||$65||25 Mbps|
|30 GB||$75||25 Mbps|
|45 GB||$110||25 Mbps|
|75 GB||$160||25 Mbps|
HughesNet provides a $20/month discount for the first six months. However, a user must sign a 2-year contract, and the initial setup cost for hardware is $450. There’s also a $400 early cancellation penalty (cancellation before the two-year contract ends) (source).
Even though HughesNet advertises that there’s no hard data limit, after a user exhausts all their monthly data quota, HughesNet caps the speed to 1-3Mbps, which is entirely unusable.
[Table] Viasat Service Plan and Prices
|Monthly Data Cap||Monthly Price||Speed|
|40 GB||$70||12 Mbps|
|60 GB||$100||25 Mbps|
|100 GB||$150||30 Mbps|
Viasat has a $300 hardware installation fee and requires a 2-year contract (source). There’s also an early termination penalty. The fee is $15 x the number of remaining months in the 2-year contract.
Therefore, compared to Verizon, T-Mobile, Starlink, HughesNet, and Viasat, Starlink provides the most cost-effective high-speed unlimited internet.
There are several drawbacks to SpaceX’s Starlink.
Initial Setup Cost is Steep
The initial order cost of Starlink is substantially high. The antenna and router cost $600, and there’s a $50 shipping charge. For the first month, the total service cost is around $800. Even though there’s no long-term contract, this initial price is costly.
In contrast, for home cable internet, the initial cost is less than $100.
The setup cost for business users is even higher. Here’s the cost breakdown:
- Deposit $500
- Hardware $2,500
- Monthly Service Cost $500
Therefore, a business customer has to fork out almost $4,000 with taxes and shipping for the first month.
Power Consumption is High
A user must use Starlink’s provided phased array antenna to get the Starlink internet. Moreover, there are resistive heaters to melt ice in the cold climate and tracking motors inside it. As a result, Starlink’s antenna consumes a lot of power.
According to tests, on a typical day with 70ºF outside, the Starlink consumes 110W-120W power. However, if the outside temperature is freezing, Starlink’s power consumption can rise to 160W because the resistive heater heats the antenna to melt potential ice.
For off-grid homes, RVs, and boats, it’s problematic.
At home, if the Starlink is kept on for 24 hours, at 110W power consumption, total power usage is 24 x 110W = 2.64kWh. At $0.28/kWh electricity cost, the monthly cost to power Starlink internet is 2.64kWh x 0.28/kWh x 30 = $22.18
This extra electricity cost comes on top of the Starlink monthly bill.
For RVs where electricity conservation is essential, 110W Starlink could be challenging to operate for many RVers.
Weather events such as heavy rain and snow can cause the Starlink internet to be spotty. Moreover, the satellites are constantly in motion. The phased array antenna continually tracks those satellites and automatically switches between them. As a result, there are intermittent drops in connection.
For people working from home, it could be a problem. Online zoom meetings, VoIP calls, court hearings, or gaming would get interrupted because of this connection drop.
However, the connection drop issue will lessen as SpaceX adds more satellites to the constellation.
Long Wait Time
Starlink internet is best for low population density areas. SpaceX is still launching and building the Starlink satellite constellations. Every satellite has a specific capacity to provide good internet within a particular zone. Thus, there’s a long wait time to get the Starlink in many localities.
Starlink uses the term “Better Than Nothing.” Therefore, if you already have an internet connection that provides 100Mbps or more download speed, then don’t buy Starlink.
However, if you live in an area with no cable internet, you should purchase Starlink instead of Viasat, HughesNet, Verizon, or T-Mobile. Starlink is worth it.