Starlink is the company’s capital-intensive project to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of satellites, known in the space industry as a constellation, designed to deliver high-speed internet to consumers anywhere on the planet.
SpaceX launched the “Better than Nothing Beta” program for the public in October, and the majority of users CNBC surveyed received invitations to join between November and February. The service is priced at $99 a month in the U.S. under the beta, with a $499 upfront cost for the equipment customers need to connect to the satellites – plus taxes, shipping, and any accessories needed to mount the antenna.
CNBC’s surveyed users on total cost, the installation process, what they thought of SpaceX’s equipment, internet speed, reliability of the service, what their service alternatives were, their experience with customer service, any concerns they had, and their overall impressions.
It sounds like people were OK with the price as it seemed to compare to what they had paid before. Feedback on installation was more diverse, based on the customer’s past experience with rooftop installations. The speeds sound like they were as promised…
SpaceX told the Federal Communications Commission in February that Starlink’s internet service is “exceeding” 100 megabits per second download speeds, 20 megabits per second upload speeds, and latency “at or below 31 milliseconds.” Latency is the amount of delay in an internet network, defining how much time it takes a signal to travel back and forth from a destination. Latency and download speeds are key measures for an internet service provider.
The company’s report to the FCC matched with what users told CNBC, who reported download speeds ranging between 60 Mbps to 150 mbps – with some even reporting peak speeds near 200. Latency also matched expectations, as most users reported latency of about 30 milliseconds – with some in the low 20 milliseconds.
It was interesting to hear what customers had before this beta test…
Users reported a wide variety of prior services that they had before Starlink, ranging from other satellite broadband companies to low-speed wired networks to cellular hotspots – and some with no prior service at all.
Starlink users most commonly switched for one of three reasons: Price, speed and data restrictions (also known as “caps”).
And what one customer said after the beta test…
I will keep Starlink as long as its the only broadband option available to me.
I think that sentiment says a lot about the service. It is a great option for people who don’t have other options but drawbacks are the cost and it’s not futureproof. Also, investing public funding into Starlink is not an investment in futureproof technology.