Starlink Vs. Cable (11 Important Things You Must Know Before Ordering Starlink)

If you have cable internet in your area, we highly suggest you take it over Starlink.

Starlink internet is great but not suitable for every location. 

This article compares Starlink vs. Cable in 11 criteria. At the end of this article, you can decide whether Starlink or cable internet is better for you.

Key Takeaways:

This table summarizes the key difference between cable internet and Starlink.

Suitable ForCity, Urban areaRural and Low population density
Setup CostLess than $150Residential – $600, Business – $2500
Installation help from providerYesNo
Internet SpeedTypically 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps50 Mbps to 150 Mbps. For Business users 150 Mbps to 500 Mbps.
Monthly FeeStarts at $50Residential – $110, RV – $135, Business – $500
Subscription PausableYesNo. (for RV – Yes)
Weather affects internet serviceNoYes. Heavy rain and snow will severely affect service.
Equipment refund timeUnlimited30 Days
Power ConsumptionNegligibleMore compared to cable
Installation limitationNoneNeeds clear view of the sky
ReliabilityMore reliable than satellite internetLess reliable than cable internet in every area

Starlink is Primarily for Low Population Density Area

SpaceX has said multiple times that Starlink internet is best for people who live in rural and urban areas where cable internet isn’t available. It’s not meant to replace cable or fiber internet.

SpaceX is still building its satellite constellation. So far, they have launched a couple of thousands of satellites. They need tens of thousands of satellites for reliable, faster internet. 

Each satellite has a bandwidth capacity and limit. It can’t support unlimited users.

In cities and towns where population density is higher, Starlink isn’t suitable. It will provide good speed only in low population density areas. In cities, it has terrible speed.

For city dwellers, cable internet is best. It will provide faster, reliable internet. 

If you live in an area where you already have cable internet, don’t order Starlink. But if you need portable internet for your camping trip, order the “Starlink for RV.”

Starlink can’t compete with cable internet speed, reliability, or cost.

Cable Internet Has Cheaper Setup Cost

The initial setup cost with Starlink is substantially higher than cable internet.

SpaceX provides three internet packages:

  1. Residential 
  2. RV
  3. Business

The residential and RV users must buy a $599 hardware kit that includes a dish and router from Starlink. The business users have to pay even more. The hardware kit for business internet costs $2500. 

In contrast, most cable internet doesn’t cost anything. Cable providers install the internet in the house or offices for free. Sometimes, a user only has to pay for the modem or router. 

However, it typically costs less than $150. And most of the time, the cable company will refund you if you return the modem and router at the end of your service period.

A new Starlink user has only 30 days to return their equipment for a full refund. After that, you are stuck with the expensive hardware.  

Starlink is a substantial investment. Sometimes, you no longer need the Starlink equipment for personal reasons and want to recoup some of the money. This article discusses 5 things about Starlink sales, transfer, service cancellation, and related problems when you move to another address.

Starlink Doesn’t Have Professional Installer

Starlink doesn’t provide any professional installer. The hardware kit that they ship to your house is DIY plug-and-play devices. You have to install it yourself to get internet access.

Even though users have reported that it’s straightforward to set up the Starlink temporarily, still, sometimes installing the dish is not that easy.

The Starlink needs a clear sky view. Therefore, you may need to install it on the rooftop or on top of a pole. For this, you must hire professionals who would climb to your house roof to install the dish. It costs extra, and you must find a suitable person to do the job. Starlink will not help you in any way to install the kit.

On the other hand, Cable companies will send their professional installer to your house or office to install cable service. Moreover, you also don’t have to pay anything for installation. 

Therefore, if you are worried that you may need help installing Starlink but there’s no one in your area, Cable internet is a better choice.

Cable Provides Higher Internet Speed

Most cable internet provides an internet speed from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps. 

Starlink also provides high speeds from 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps. However, as more and more users have signed up with the network over the last few years, its speed has worsened.

The Starlink business package provides a speed from 150 Mbps to 500 Mbps. Thus, your speed will never go up over 150 Mbps as a residential user.

In most areas, the cable provides faster speed than Starlink.

Starlinks internet speed suffers most during peak hours (5 PM to 10 PM). Users have reported that their speed becomes slow, as low as 5 Mbps.

Starlink Costs More per Month

Cable internet typically costs $50 per month and provides very high speed. On the contrary, Starlink internet is $110 per month. Starlink costs way more than cable internet if we compare the price and speed.

No Pause Feature on Starlink

The residential and business package on the Starlink network doesn’t have a pause feature. You can only cancel their subscription. However, if you cancel, there’s no guarantee that SpaceX will restart your service again in the future.

The Starlink network is growing rapidly. Its customer base is also increasing. Thus, the demand for Starlink internet is very high. 

Unlike HughesNet and Viasat, SpaceX has put a limit on how many customers they will take within a certain region to provide good internet. As a result, in many areas, there’s a waitlist. 

Thus, if you cancel, your subscription will not restart immediately. You must wait in line with other order holders to reactivate your subscription.

In contrast, in most areas, there are multiple cable service providers. You can cancel, pause, or switch providers any time you like. Sometimes, these cable providers will give a sweet deal if you try to cancel their service.

Starlink is the best satellite internet service compared to HughesNet, Dish, and Viasat. However, there are 8 reasons you shouldn’t buy Starlink to save money and avoid frustrations. This article discusses these reasons in depth.

Cable Isn’t Portable

One of the most significant advantages of Starlink is that it’s portable. it can be used anywhere within the same continent (provided SpaceX doesn’t limit service.) 

Residential Starlink users can take their dish camping, and their internet will still work if they add the $25 portability add-on.

In the last few years, Starlink for RV has become very popular among travelers, campers, and RVers. No internet provider except for SpaceX provides faster internet on the road.

During a disaster situation, Starlink has proved to be very beneficial. After an earthquake, tornado, or natural disaster, various entities throughout the world have used Starlink. 

After a significant disaster, power outages are common, and cable internet doesn’t work at all. Most of the time, even the cellular phone network goes out. But, over the last few years, Starlink proved very helpful in these scenarios.

In contrast, cable internet is tied to your house. It’s not portable. Even though some cable providers have WiFi service, their coverage is minimal within a few cities.

Many RVers are surprised that they are getting very slow internet access over Starlink. Starlink is not always the best internet for RVers. This article discusses the important reasons you should remember before ordering your Starlink for RVs.

Starlink Doesn’t Work In Very Poor Weather

Starlink uses low earth orbit satellites to provide faster internet. Every satellite signal gets disrupted by poor weather. HughesNet, Viasat, DISH, and Starlink all get affected by rain, snow, or clouds.

Even though Starlink gets less affected due to weather than HughesNet or Viasat, Starlink’s internet speed will still slow down, and the service quality will degrade during heavy rain or heavy snow.

Clouds, light rain, light snow, and fog don’t affect Starlink’s service. However, your internet service will be severely degraded during clouds with lightning storms and heavy rain. Furthermore, the internet can get disconnected altogether until the poor weather passes.

In contrast, poor weather typically doesn’t affect cable internet. A user will get the same internet speed regardless of weather conditions. Snow, rain, or lightning storms don’t affect the internet quality unless it creates power outages or destroys the cables that provide internet.

Therefore, if you plan to use Starlink, remember that you will not get reliable internet during bad weather. Thus, cable internet is better in this scenario.

This article discusses in-depth how snow, rain, clouds, and storms affect Starlink.

Starlink Needs Clear Sky View

SpaceX uses thousands of satellites to provide their internet. Thus, users need a clear sky view from their dish to get a reliable connection. Trees, shrubs, hills, walls, and fences block Starlink’s signal. 

If you plan to use Starlink in your house but don’t have good sky visibility, you will have a tough time getting reliable internet with Starlink. Sometimes, your connection will drop due to obstruction.

In contrast, cable internet is reliable in every geographic location and better than Starlink.

We have seen many people cut down trees to get a better satellite signal. However, if your area already has cable, don’t buy Starlink. 

Starlink Consumes More Power

Starlink dishes and router/modem consume significant power. The electricity bill would undoubtedly increase your monthly internet bill.

The latest Starlink rectangular dish typically consumes 50W power. However, on cold and snowy days, the power consumption would rise to 90W because the dish will use the snow melt feature to heat the antenna to remove snow. 

At 50W, your monthly electricity usage is 50W x 24 (hour) x 30 (day) = 36000 W = 36 kWh. If 1 kWh electricity costs $0.30, the monthly electricity bill to use Starlink is $10.80. 

This $10.80 is not that high, but it adds up due to the high monthly subscription fee ($110). 

On the contrary, cable modems use very little electricity and are negligible. On top of that, as the monthly subscription fee is meager (as low as $50), the cable is better in this scenario.

Many HOA will ask you to paint the Starlink Dish. In some areas, you must bury the cable to protect it from animal bites or lawn mowers. This article discusses 6 important things about the Starlink dish, router, and cable.

Cable is Reliability

Cable internet is always reliable over wireless internet. The download and upload speed is better and has low latency.

Even though Starlink provides up to 150 Mbps download speed for residential users, the speed isn’t reliable. It fluctuates a lot. Furthermore, SpaceX promises to keep the latency between 20ms to 40ms, but it is always higher. 

Can Governments ban, block, censor, or jam your Starlink internet access? How will China and Russia tackle Starlink? To learn more read this article.