19. 04. 2022
More than 10,000 users around the world have already received the coveted sets of satellite equipment from Elon Musk’s company. But for millions of people, connectivity is still a dream come true and many want to connect to Starlink.
In this article, we have collected reviews, recommendations and user experience. To show you how Starlink actually works. How is the process of connection and configuration. What speed can be obtained in reality. And how can you use this satellite Internet. And if you don’t like something, then at the very end you will find information from the main competitor Elon Musk.
So far, no breakthrough technologies, such as data exchange between satellites via a laser beam, have been used. Everything works extremely simply. The satellite acts as a relay. Connects the user to the base station. Moreover, the station is very close, by the standards of satellite communications. Usually — within 100 km from the consumer.
The technology allows you to work over long distances. But so far, Elon Musk covers only certain regions. Sometimes — several villages and detached houses in Indian reservations. This is done in order to get the perfect connection quality. To guarantee the high reliability of the system. A system that is still de jure in test mode.
The main market for Elon Musk is the USA. Several operators are already working here, ready to serve users in the most remote corners of the country. But broadband providers (Hughes Communications and Viasat) have satellites in geostationary orbit. This is far even by space standards. The signal takes too long to get a real «online». That is, you can download the movie. But you can’t conduct a video conference or participate in an online game.
If you place satellites in low orbit, they will fly at great speed. The antenna must be rotated following the receding spacecraft. So that the connection is not broken. This is how the NEXT system created by Iridium works. But there are few satellites. Each can serve a limited number of subscribers. Therefore, NEXT has serious speed limits and the price of a transferred megabyte is so high.
Elon Musk managed to get around these restrictions. First, it uses phased array antennas in Starlink. They almost do not need to rotate after the satellite. The signal passes from one array element to another. Secondly, SpaceX is launching satellites in huge numbers and you should be able to easily connect to Starlink.
There are two limiting factors. The first is the capacity of the satellite and the base station. How many consumers can be served by this bundle at the same time. The second is the signal loss time when switching from one satellite to another. This delay is always there, but the user may not notice it under certain circumstances.
So, you are one of the lucky ones — your application on the Starlink website was approved. In this case, you will receive a large cardboard box in the mail. Size — approximately 1 by 1 meter. Color — white or grey. The whole is about 7 kg. Here’s what you need to do next.
Step 1 — Find open space
To get the highest speed, it is recommended to give the antenna approximately 100 degrees of open sky. Of course, the ideal place is the roof of the house. But the antenna comes with a mount that can be used as legs. That is, you can install it directly on the ground. Not even secured with bolts.
A loose antenna will work well, but only in good weather conditions. The size of the «dish» is quite large, so there is a wind effect. As soon as the wind picks up, it will flip the antenna.
Therefore, it is still recommended to fix it with bolts. On the network you can find photos of the most extravagant mounting options. To pallets, boxes, barrels. But still the roof remains an ideal option.
Step 2 — Open the box and read the instructions
Starlink doesn’t have many employees yet. It is difficult to find a translator or a specialist in writing user instructions among them. Therefore, only one sheet of paper comes with satellite equipment. With three pictures, no words. Knowledge of foreign languages is not required.
Immediately below the instructions is an antenna, a terminal and a thick black cable 30 m long. Among Starlink users, the antenna is usually called «dishy» (plate). She weighs about 5 kg.
Step 3 — Assemble the Kit
Place the tripod on the ground. Insert the antenna mount into the tripod. Connect the cable to the antenna. The first time you can collect everything on the ground to make sure the system is working. And then place the antenna on the roof or in another convenient place.
If you are not satisfied with the mount supplied with the terminal, you can order Starlink Volcano Mount on the official website to install the antenna on the roof.
All system components are already configured and ready to connect. That is, you only need to plug in the cables and press the buttons. No additional knowledge or skills are required. Well, except that the ability to work on the roof will come in handy.
Step 4 — Enable Starlink
Just plug the power cord into an electrical outlet. Two white lights will immediately appear on the power supply. And the antenna will go up. Yes, it’s really that simple. You don’t need to know how it works. Turn on and use.
Step 5 — Install the Starlink app on your mobile device
Go to Google Play if you are using Android. Or the App Store if you prefer the iPhone. Download and install the application from Starlink. Launch it and click the «Start Setup» button.
The system will ask you if your terminal is on. Answer yes if the white lights on the power supply are on. Open the item «wireless network settings» (Open Wifi Settings). Here you will need to name your home network and set a password.
Now you can return to the main screen to look at the system status. It usually takes only a few minutes for Starlink equipment to establish a stable and reliable connection to the satellites and connect to Starlink. If you are in a good reception area, the system will remain online until you turn it off. So far, SpaceX has only delivered equipment to such regions.
The entire connection process, from unpacking the box to accessing the Internet, takes no more than 20 minutes.
The very first to connect to Starlink were residents of the Macah Indian Reservation. This place is very easy to find on the map. The northwesternmost point of the United States, a headland extending far out to sea near the Canadian border.
Although the big city, Seattle, is only 150 km in a straight line, this area is considered one of the most sparsely populated and remote in the country. Residents of several villages have to spend more than two hours to get by car to the nearest supermarket. It is clear that there is no wired Internet here and cannot be.
Of course, local residents had access to the Internet. They mainly used CenturyLink. Theoretically, they had access to the network. But kids couldn’t participate in Zoom meetings when schools went online. There was no question of video broadcasts. Even to load the level of a simple online game, you had to wait five minutes.
After the appearance of the service from SpaceX, the Makah reservation not only solved all these problems. Locals have even managed to get into online business. Provide remote video training services, engage in audio and video editing.
148 Mbps per download
13.6 Mbps for upload
Most importantly, the residents of the Makah reservation are completely satisfied with the quality of service. They note that even when the weather deteriorates badly, the sky is covered with clouds and it is raining, their Internet connection speed does not drop.
And this region is located in the opposite, eastern part of the United States. Sparsely populated wooded area. Ski resorts and lumberjack villages. Nature strongly resembles the Ukrainian Carpathians.
Alex Lockie bought a summer home there at the height of the pandemic, when the government advised all Americans to go out and interact with other people as little as possible.
The nature around amazed the imagination with its virgin beauty. There was a waterfall near the house. But with the benefits of modern civilization in Southern Vermont has not yet developed. No fiber optic cables. There was not even cell service. The only window to the «big world» was a wired telephone line. And an old DSL modem capable of delivering up to 3 Mbps.