Starlink

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Features

Starlink Details

Starlink began rolling out coverage in NZ starting mid-March 2021.

Starlink are launching thousands of satellites that will provide the next generation of satellite broadband.

Starlink aims to provide low-cost, high speed broadband connectivity to customers globally, with the specific goal of offering service to customers who don’t currently have reliable or quality access because of their remote location.

The costs are (in NZD incl. GST):

  • Hardware $200-$700 (there are often specials)
  • Monthly Service – Standard plan $159/month, or $79/month for Deprioritized Standard plan (its a bit slower)

Performance is typically faster than ADSL (copper), VDSL (copper), 4G broadband or basic fibre.

 

Drippy Dishy

Where to buy from

The dishes can be purchased from Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman, Bunnings, or direct from Starlink.  (Refurbished dishes are also sometimes available from Starlink direct, and are a good deal at $199.)  The prices can vary significantly, so it can pay to shop around.

If you buy directly from Starlink, you can utilise this referral link to receive one month service free:   www.starlink.com.   (Please consider using this referral link because it will help keep this website up, running, and up to date – thank you!  Read more here.)

Dish rental is sometimes available as an option from Starlink ($19 per month) rather than buying the dish.

Noel Leeming sometimes offer a discount if you have specific memberships eg Farmlands, Motor Home Association, Gold Card. (Consider putting this towards a product protection plan.  A quick automatic replacement applies if the item purchased was below $500.)

If you’re considering purchasing Starlink and need to discuss it with someone, I recommend visiting Noel Leeming, as direct calls to Starlink aren’t available.

In April 2024 a new model dish became available in NZ.  A summary of the changes is here

As of 6 June 2024, Noel Leemings sell both the old and new versions.  The old version is still good for people on a tight budget who don’t need great WiFi range.

Installation

There are a few possibilities for getting the dish installed:

  • TV antenna/dish installers
  • Home security camera installers will often install Starlink
  • Noel Leeming have an install service
  • DIY ( its pretty easy)

Some people might be eligible to receive a one-off Government grant of up to $2,000 towards set up and installation costs.   There are various conditions that must be met.  See Remote Users Scheme (RUS).

(Note that Rural Connect does not sell or install Starlink.) 

 

How fast is it really?

The Commerce Commission operates a programme called Measuring Broadband New Zealand to provide consumers with independent information on broadband performance.

Rural Connect is a volunteer in this programme and have a “SamKnows Whitebox”.  Here are results for our Starlink connection. 

The average download speed graph should be used with caution because it is a comparison against national averages.  Being rural, your existing connection might be significantly different from the national average.  For example, we had a very slow ADSL line, so our Starlink was around 250x faster. 

Also see our blog “Whats happening with Starlink Speeds” and ComComs ‘Measuring Broadband New Zealand’ spring report

 

Target Market for Starlink

 

Starlink is best suited for people without access to:

  • fibre
  • reliable VDSL
  • a good WISP

Some users have moved from 4G fixed wireless to Starlink.  4G fixed wireless performance is variable because of congestion and signal strength considerations.  In some locations it is still very good.

Starlink is useful when there is a widespread power outage and the traditional telcos go down.  However you will need to provide Backup Power for Your Starlink Dish.

 

Pros and Cons of Starlink

Advantages of Starlink:

  • No data caps.
  • No contracts, 30-day trial.
  • Easy self install (the dish is small and is motorised for self alignment).
  • Swifter speeds than 4G fixed wireless, conventional satellite internet, ADSL, VDSL, and even surpassing basic fibre plans.
  • More economical compared to many alternative choices.
  • Low latency (or lag) means video conferencing is good quality.  (0.02 – 0.08 seconds verse 0.6 – 1 second for traditional satellites)
  • The satellites are much closer than traditional satellites (eg 600km vs 39000km)
  • The network’s robustness is exceptional, bolstered by its extensive fleet of thousands of satellites. In contrast, terrestrial networks are frequently vulnerable to prolonged outages caused by single cable faults or a power outage.

Disadvantages of Starlink:

  • Starlink is sometimes not immediately available in a few areas of NZ.
  • Typically more expensive than a WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider).  If there is a WISP in your area you might want to talk to them first to see what they can offer. Have a look at the Broadband Map NZ.
  • A clear view is needed of the sky (mainly in the southern direction).  There is a Starlink App to help check for potential obstructions.  
  • Dishes are locked to a specific location. (Except for service such as Starlink Business , or Starlink Mobile)
  • Customers services have been slow at times.
  • Installation is DIY (or you can pay someone to do the install)
  • The initial expense for the dish. (While dish rental is available, purchasing is usually the more economical choice.)
  • You can’t contact customer services via telephone.
  • The latest hardware uses around 40 Watts (approx $7.50 per month at 26c/kWh ).
  • Backup power requires some planning, but is easily achievable.  See Backup Power for Starlink and Powering Starlink With An Inverter.

Telephone Services

 

Starlink does not currently provide telephone service directly, however there are a few 3rd party options that will allow you to make telephone calls over Starlink.  See our blogs:

Landline phones over Starlink

Wifi Calling options after Sure Signal shuts down (using your mobile over Starlink Wifi)

 

Gaming on Starlink

 

While Starlink is definitely not the first choice for gaming, it is adequate in many cases. Use fibre if you can because of its lower latency. The lower latency will make for better ping times to the game servers. Here is a comparison of local NZ latency measurements made by SamKnows:

Fibre300                   7ms
VDSL                       19ms
ADSL                       25ms
Starlink                   43ms
4G Fixed wireless  49ms

Lets take the example of a game server in Australia. The ping time could be around 200ms if you had fibre. With Starlink the ping time would be 36ms longer (ie around 236ms ping time).

(Note that your ping time may be increased by approx 3ms if you use WiFi rather than Ethernet cable.)

Also see blog Gaming on Starlink- Latency

Further Starlink information

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