Starlink Satellite Internet Beta Testing Results #satellites #QST

Alan - W6WN

I've had a Starlink Beta system now for a little over a month. Here are some results:

  1. Set Up - The system comes virtually Plug and Play. You snap on the pre-assembled, motorized dish to the included tripod stand and place it where it has a decent view of the Northern sky. The 100' of cable is pre-attached to the dish. The heavy-duty cable terminates in a rugged CAT-6 connector, which plugs into a POE power brick. An included WiFi router then plugs into a second network port on the brick. I set the dish and stand on the corner of the roof, threw the cable over the the back side of the house and ran it through the window. The unit automatically self-configured and the motorized antenna pointed itself to get optimum reception. About 30 minutes total from unboxing to Internet.  
  2. Speeds - Not all the time, but I've hit download speeds as high as 150 Mbps and as low as 40 Mbps. Lately, I've been consistently getting 100 Mbps downloads. Other Beta Users have been reporting download  speeds over 400 Mbps but this may be based on locations further north where there is apparently better, denser coverage. Of course, not many Users yet but also not many satellites (they've launched about 1,000 500-pound satellites so far, with 60 launched just a couple of weeks ago). Speeds may vary throughout the day, perhaps due to the number of satellites overhead.
  3. Latency - This has been the Achilles Heel of conventional satellite Internet systems. With latency ranging between 20 ~ 100 ms, Starlink should be able to support VPNs and online gaming. 
  4. WiFi Calling Works - I could not tell the difference between making a WiFi call over the Starlink system. In fact, the WiFi calls were clearer with less distortion than our weak Verizon connection usually has here. However, the WiFi calls did occasionally drop in the middle of a call.
  5. Streaming Video - Runs well on our 65" One or two brief hiccups.
  6. Connectivity - You can use the supplied WiFi router, or you can connect your own router or wired switch. The Starlink router WiFi supports 802.11b, 8.2.11a/g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac – with 802.11ac standards and can provide data transfer rates up to 866 Mbps.
  7. Stability - The system does drop out every so often. Again this is probably an issue with the current satellite density overhead.
  8. Mobility - Apparently, you can't move the system more than about 20 miles from where the system is registered. There are thousands of "cells" and each system is married to a particular cell, based on it's registered address. I haven't tried moving the system more than about 100 yards so far but I hope to test this further. There is talk that SpaceX is planning on making these systems mobile but that they can't support that currently.
  9. Cost - At $588 upfront for the gear, and $100/mo. for the service, it's not the cheapest alternative in more populated areas. Worth it, though, especially if you're beyond the reach of Wireless or Cable. Also, it's a month by month contract (at least, the Beta system is).
The system is getting a really good work out this week. On Sunday morning, our PG&E transformer blew, frying the network cable running to my sister's house and severing our connection to her Comcast modem. 

Two speed tests attached, one from Feb 21 and one from a few minutes ago.

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