Starlink internet expands Australian coverage
Elon Musk-owned SpaceX Starlink internet service has finished its beta trials in Australia and is now offering the Starlink internet service for a relatively large slice of Australia.
The map shows coverage from just north of Mackay in Queensland down to the South Australian border and across to the north of Geraldton in Western Australia. The northern half of Australia will progressively gain coverage from Q1 2023.
The coverage is still a little patchy, and you need to put in your address to check an expanded map. For example, most of Sydney and many parts of the Central Coast from Hornsby to Gosford are not covered. Nor is ACT, much of Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and Perth.
The reason is something to do with airports, interference and ACMA licensing requirements, but again the map says ‘sometime in 2023’.
How do you get Starlink internet?
First, you must buy the Starlink satellite dish for $924 plus $150 for shipping/handling. You must mount it with a 360° clear view of the sky. That usually means on the roof, so it is not for apartment dwellers. There is a range of optional extra-cost pole connectors and adapters.
The dish connects via 22m cable (45m available) to a Starlink gateway/Wi-Fi 5 AC router. An optional dongle gives you Ethernet to connect to your home Wi-Fi router. On top of this is qualified/licensed roof fitting, cabling and termination indoors, plus a suitable router and Wi-Fi home network.
The cost is $139 per month for unlimited data. Beta uses report no issues with Netflix video streaming. There is a business plan at $750 per month that uses a different High-Performance satellite dish at $3895.
Mobile users like RV, caravaners, houseboats, etc., can pay a monthly $174 that includes a portability fee allowing roaming wherever there is Australian coverage. Otherwise, the satellite dish is locked to one location. In motion use is not available at this time.
Maritime users can also get a plan for boat use.
All plans feature monthly billing, and the RV plan offers flexibility to pause services.
Starlink’s terms and conditions state its equipment should work for a minimum of 12 months, but performance may be affected by ‘acts of God’ like fire and flood.
The Starlink satellites are about 550km above the earth – low earth orbit – and can achieve as low as 20ms latency. Starlink won’t commit to a guaranteed download and upload speed. Beta users apparently achieved between 50 and 250Mbps DL and 10-20Mbps UL. Business plans can reach 150-500/10-20Mbps.
Beta users reported OK reliability but many experienced dropouts. Starlink says that was more due to patchy satellite coverage, which is improving. OOKLA Speed test users reported an average of 141Mbps and latency of 43ms.
CyberShack’s view – Starlink internet is an option but does not replace NBN if you can get it.
Despite the bad publicity for NBN FTTN (70% of users have Fibre-to-the-Node connections), most can get a reliable 50/20Mbps speed, <20ms latency and unlimited data for $79 per month. And you get a landline telephone as well.
Some (<30%) can get 100/20Mbps for $99 monthly. FTTP and HFC Cable users can get up to 1000/50Mbps for between $129 and $149 per month. Check your address here. You can read about the best router for NBN FTTN TP-Link Deco X73 DSL AX5400 modem/router – every NBN FTTN user should have.
Starlink offers far superior speeds to 4G or 5G home broadband.
4G home broadband costs around $60 per month (unlimited data). 4G speeds are generally a maximum of 25/2Mbps if you get a strong 4G signal. Signal strength and congestion vary, and users can experience very low speeds and high latency. You will need a 4G modem/router gateway.
5G home broadband costs around $90 per month (1000GB or unlimited data), but signal coverage is minimal, and you must be within 500m of a 5G tower. 5G speeds range from 50-100Mbps DL and 10-20Mbps UL, but some plans have uncapped speeds up to 500Mbps. You will need a 5G modem/router gateway.
Starlink offers far faster services than the current high-earth orbit NBN Sky Muster, offering NBN 12 and 25Mbps plans for $100-130 per month, including 200-300GB of data.
In our opinion, Starlink is the last, best, expensive hope for the Internet if you cannot get reliable NBN.