Starlink is the iPhone of the internet world. The majority of people in this world do not have access to high-speed internet. Internet service providers (ISP) have done little to nothing to solve this problem. Google and Facebook tried but failed. It is where Starlink came and succeeded.
Similar to every other modern technology, Starlink too has some advantages and disadvantages, as discussed below.
Pros of Starlink Internet.
Here are a few pros of the Starlink internet.
Starlink internet is faster than traditional satellite internet. Starlink is so fast that comparing its speed with conventional satellite internet is absurd.
Why is Starlink faster than conventional satellite internet?
The answer lies in mathematics. Except for Starlink, other providers use Geostationary satellites to beam down the internet. Geostationary satellites have an operational altitude of 35,000 km. When a user sends a signal, the electromagnetic wave from the user terminal goes to the geostationary satellite. From there, the response comes back to the user receiver end. So, the total round trip for internet is 35,000 km + 35,000 km = 70,000 km.
An electromagnetic wave travels at the speed of light (about 3,00,000 km per second). So, total roundtrip time for satellite internet is 70,000 km / 3,00,000 km-per-sec = 233 ms. This time is called latency. The higher the latency, the slower the internet. Though the latency is theoretically 233 ms, in real life, due to various system delays, this latency is well over 300 ms. Depending on where you live (for example – Guam), this latency could be as high as 1500 ms.
On the other hand, cable internet has latency between 20 ms to 40 ms. This comparison shows that typical satellite internet is at least 10 times slower than cable internet. There’s nothing a Geostationary satellite can do to increase the internet speed.
Let’s calculate the latency for Starlink satellite internet. Starlink has an operational altitude of only 550 km above the earth. So, a roundtrip for internet signal from Starlink dish to Starlink satellite to Starlink dish is 550 km + 550 km = 1,100 km. So, roundtrip time is 1,100 km / 3,00,000 km-per-sec = 3.67 ms. Though the latency is theoretically 3.67 ms, in real life, due to various system delays, this latency is around 20 to 30 ms. In conclusion, Starlink internet is faster than conventional satellite internet, and cable internet. Furthermore, Starlink’s internet is fast enough for competitive gaming.
Starlink’s internet price is competitive. It is cheaper than cable and satellite internet in rural and suburban areas. In many locations, suburban users pay the same amount as their city counterparts but receive far slower internet. For example, in cities, sometimes people pay $50-$60 for 100/10 internet (100 Mbps down, 10 Mbps up). But in rural areas, users pay more than $100 but receive only 10/1 internet (10 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up). Whereas, Starlink charges only $99 for unlimited speed.
Starlink is available everywhere.
It does not matter wherever you live, Starlink internet is available at your location. Starlink covers the whole world, from Antarctica to the middle of the ocean. Thousands of low earth satellite orbiting above us. Its signal reaches every part of this world. Whether you are in a remote suburb, middle of the ocean, or the sky, Starlink internet is available.
On the contrary, cable internet (for example, Spectrum) is not available everywhere. Except for major cities, their service is limited. Rural cable internet speed is very disappointing and costly. It is also valid for cellular internet. Cellular internet is not that great for media consumption — such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu.
Easy to install.
Starlink dish is easy to install. After order confirmation, SpaceX will ship Starlink package containing a dish, WiFi router, mounting brackets (according to your choice), and necessary cables. The dish installation does not require any specialized knowledge or skill. Just find a place where you have a clear view of the sky. Install the mounting bracket and fasten your Starlink dish, pointing towards the sky. After powering it up, the dish will reorient by itself for optimal signal. Installation can’t get easier than this.
Faster disaster recovery.
Whenever disaster strikes a region, it takes days, if not weeks, to restore internet service. Storms, tornadoes, wildfires, or flood can severely damage internet cable. After a severe storm, fixing those cables not only expensive but also time-consuming.
But, Starlink internet does not suffer any internet outage due to earth disaster. As soon as the sky clears up, you can receive Starlink internet. It has thousands of base stations throughout the world. Even if some base station goes down due to bad weather, other base stations will provide internet to Starlink satellites.
Starlink provides a reliable internet. Conventional satellite internet providers only operate a handful of geostationary satellites. Due to the high altitude of geosynchronous orbit, their internet is very unreliable and spotty.
Starlink internet has better portability than cable internet. Though cellular is portable, it’s service is not available everywhere. Traditional satellite internet is also as mobile as Starlink, but it provides inferior internet speed with high latency and poor service.
Cons of Starlink Internet.
There are several disadvantages to the Starlink internet. But none of these are severe enough to avoid this excellent service.
Slower internet in cities.
Starlink has one major disadvantage over cable internet. At any given time, Starlink has a fixed number of satellites over a specific location. All the users in that particular spot share the same bandwidth. So, in cities, there are more people to share the same bandwidth than in rural areas. Thus, Starlink’s speed in cities will be slower compared to suburban areas.
Hardware installation could be an issue for many users. A typical cable company or satellite internet company offers a hardware installation service. But, Starlink does not have this hardware installation service. So, a user has to install the Starlink dish by themselves or hire someone to do it. Depending on places, it could be tough to get an installer.
Moreover, Starlink needs a clear view of the sky to receive uninterrupted internet. If you live in a condominium or high rise building, installing a Starlink dish could be challenging. Depending on places, you may need to install the hardware on top of your house roof. It could be impossible in cities if you are a renter, and your landlord does not allow you to install the dish.
Starlink is not portable compared to cellular internet. We can take our phone freely anywhere and receive the internet. But the Starlink dish is not portable at all. Though it is possible to install the dish over RV or Boat, it is not compact enough to carry freely.
Service disruption during lousy weather.
Satellite service disruption during rain, storm, or solar storm is ordinary. However, that’s not a severe issue. This kind of disruption is also real for cable internet.
Every technology has pros and cons. However, if the advantages of a technology outweigh the cons, we should embrace that tech. Starlink has more benefits than conventional satellite, cellular and cable internet. That’s why we should embrace this internet instead of shunning it.