Is Starlink Right for Rural Communities
Starlink, a new satellite internet operation, is Elon Musk’s highly-anticipated next venture. It’s hard to overstate the impact Musk’s creations have had—and continue to have—on our world. This is, after all, the revolutionary mind behind some of this century’s most unique, innovative, and sometimes controversial projects.
Xpay.com, Tesla Inc., and SpaceX are just a few of Musk’s brainchildren, and the latter was founded in 2002 with the mind-boggling goal to colonize space. No matter how you may feel about him, you’ve certainly got to hand it to Musk: when it comes to ideas, the sky truly is the limit! This brings us to the matter at hand: In 2019, SpaceX announced its latest projects, one of which was Starlink. But what exactly is Starlink? And is it really everything it’s cracked up to be?
What Is Starlink?
Satellite internet technology has been around for decades. Internet connectivity is transmitted by radio waves emitted by satellites orbiting thousands of miles above the Earth’s atmosphere. Those radio waves are received by ground stations and then sent right into your home. Plenty of people already use satellites to connect their homes to the internet.
For example, one of the leading satellite internet providers, HughesNet, has satellites that sit 22,000 miles above the Earth. Starlink will also be a satellite internet service, but the company is proposing low-orbiting satellites that operate only 300 miles above the surface. This translates to improved internet speeds and reduced latency when compared to other satellite providers. Moreover, SpaceX plans to launch a fleet of these satellites in the coming years. There will be as many as 40,000 new satellites arranged in what the corporation refers to as a ‘constellation.’
Satellite Internet Challenges
Getting Starlink in your home starts with a hefty investment right off the bat. The initial $649 fee gets you the satellite dish and the Wi-Fi router to Canada, and you can expect to pay $129 per month for internet services. Compare that to Canadian Fiber Optics $89.99 (Canadian Dollars!) for 100Mbps, with no installation fee at all!
Plus, it remains to be seen what kind of experience you’ll actually get from Starlink for those prices. The company’s current satellite goal is 40,000. But at the time this article was written, they’ve only launched just over 1,000 into space. The project is absolutely a work in progress, and Starlink users report varying internet speeds and instances of service outages. As SpaceX continues to onboard more users, we’ll have to wait and see if the capacity is overloaded and services suffer from congestion—a common problem with cable or satellite internet services. One thing is for sure: Satellite internet is uniquely vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. Snow, rain, and even strong wind can play a role in the quality of your internet service.
These days, reliable internet is more important than ever, especially for those living in rural areas. It helps keep us connected, employed, and entertained. Interrupted connectivity—even a short one—can make a world of difference for those who depend on it.
While Starlink will be a welcome option for customers who only have traditional satellite internet—or none at all—it simply can’t compare to the reliability of fiber internet.
For guaranteed fast, reliable, and affordable internet services, fiber from Canadian Fiber Optics and Northern Lights Fiber is the way to go.