SpaceX Starlink Satellite Internet Review 2022

SpaceX’s Starlink internet might not meet expectations for some, but it’s still a promising rural internet option.

Starlink
Service wait times:
Late 2022–early 2023
Price:
$110/mo.
Equipment cost:
$599
Download speed:
50–250 Mbps
Catherine McNally
Editorial Lead, Internet & Gaming
Read More
April 26, 2022
14 min read

Starlink satellite internet service is finally out of beta, but many folks are still waiting for their equipment kit and service.

As SpaceX continues to launch satellites into orbit to expand and support its blossoming satellite service, there’s potential for even more improvements. So despite the wait times, we think Starlink is worth keeping an eye on, especially if your internet service options are limited.

While we all wait for service to reach our neighborhood, let’s dig into what we know about Starlink satellite internet so far.

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Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Fast download speeds
Pro Bullet Unlimited data
Pro Bullet Lower latency than traditional satellite
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Steep equipment cost
Con Bullet Limited availability with long wait times for equipment
Con Bullet Sky-high business tier costs

Is Starlink in trouble?

Our Reviews.org YouTube internet expert, Juan, chats about the future of Starlink. Will this new satellite internet company survive, and will the high up-front costs ever go down? Check out Juan's take below.

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How to sign up for Starlink

Starlink is finally out of beta testing, but if service isn’t available at your home address yet, you can put down a $99 deposit to be first in line when it arrives.

While we’re not normally fans of preorders or putting money down on something we can’t yet get, the $99 deposit is refundable.

And, once you get the service, your $99 goes toward your equipment purchase price of $599. (If you put down a deposit toward the original $499 equipment price, your kit cost becomes $549.)

Even so, keep in mind that your deposit doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get Starlink internet any time soon—or at all. And orders are first-come, first-served, so you might still have to wait even when Starlink satellites swarm your neighborhood skies.

Currently, wait times for Starlink service are extended out through early 2023 due to chip shortages. 

Starlink prices

Starlink prices have recently become a bit confusing, and here's why.

The company recently raised prices for its basic plan, so the monthly cost is now $110 (up from $99 a month). And the equipment cost rose from $499 to $599.

There's also a new business tier of premium Starlink service. It costs a whopping $500 a month (yes, five-zero-zero), and the equipment cost skyrockets to $2,500.  

SpaceX Starlink satellite internet prices
Plan
Price
Download speed
Equipment cost
Data cap
Starlink$110.00/mo.50-250 Mbps$599Unlimited
Starlink Business$500.00/mo.^150-500 Mbps$2,500Unlimited
Data effective 12/02/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 6 months or more to fulfill.
^ Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 6 months or more to fulfill.

The recent bump in prices for the basic Starlink internet plan is due to inflation. It's also likely that the price rose due to the high cost of manufacturing the Starlink equipment as well as the company trying to market the Starlink Business plan as more of a Starlink premium tier.

Starlink’s unlimited data isn’t set in stone
Bullhorn

Unlimited data is a dream come true for satellite internet users, but don’t get too excited yet. The Starlink site states that “at this time there are no data caps under the Starlink Beta program.”

So keep your eyes peeled for any changes to Starlink’s data policy in the future.

How do Starlink prices compare to Viasat and HughesNet?

Starlink satellite internet costs $110 a month for download speeds of 50–250 Mbps. To compare, a satellite internet plan from Viasat ranges from $30 to $170 a month for download speeds of 12 Mbps up to 100 Mbps, and HughesNet plans range from about $65 to $160 a month for download speeds of 25 Mbps.

Does Starlink cost more than Viasat and HughesNet?
Provider
Price
Download speed
Data cap
The logo for SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet$110.00/mo.50-250 MbpsUnlimited
$30$169.99*12100 Mbps12150 GB
$64.99$159.9925 Mbps1575 GB
Data effective 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 6 months or more to fulfill.
* For the first 3 months.
Requires 24 month agreement.

But while Starlink’s monthly cost is more reasonable considering the speeds you get,  its $599 equipment cost may put it just out of reach for some.

And for now, Starlink doesn’t currently offer an equipment rental option, while both Viasat and HughesNet do.

Satellite internet equipment costs comparison
Provider
Equipment purchase price
Equipment rental fee
Equipment lease setup fee
The logo for SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet

$599.00

N/A

N/A

$299.99 (lifetime lease)

$12.99/mo.

$99.00

$449.98

$14.99/mo.

$99.00

Where is Starlink available?

Starlink is mainly available to people living between the 33.6° and 54.9° latitudes in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and a handful of countries in Europe.1

Those latitudes cover most of the US, and we found that the majority of Starlink customers are located in northern states like Washington, Wisconsin, and Michigan. But there are some more southern states, like Missouri, that are also home to a few lucky people who get Starlink service.

A map showing Starlink satellite internet service availability in the majority of the US

Beta test availability data as of July 6, 2021 on Reddit

Note that this map is based on self-reporting beta testers, so the data may be skewed. But Starlink availability will likely get better as more satellites are launched.

Starlink internet speed and data

Starlink advertises download speeds of 50 to 250 Mbps for its basic plan, and speeds of 150 to 500 Mbps for its premium plan.

Of course, your actual Starlink internet speeds might be slower or faster than what's advertised.

In a recent report, speed test company Ookla reported that Starlink median download speeds hit 105 Mbps during the last quarter of 2021.2

Starlink download speeds, upload speeds, and latency2
Measurement
Advertised range
Median speed or latency
Download speed 50-250 Mbps105 Mbps
Upload speed 10-20 Mbps12 Mbps
Latency 20–40 ms 40 ms

Data effective 03/23/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

This finally brings Starlink's latency down to its advertised range of 20 to 40 ms, leagues better than other satellite providers with a median latency between 627 to 725 ms.

  • Starlink median latency: 40 ms
  • Viasat median latency: 627 ms
  • HughesNet median latency: 725 ms

Related: Learn more about how Starlink’s satellites create lower latency

These speed results make Starlink a possibly worse choice compared to DSL, cable, and fiber internet. But if your only rural internet option is another satellite provider or fixed wireless, Starlink is swooping in for the save.

And keep in mind that Starlink is still deploying satellites and ground stations while working out the kinks. As more satellites reach Earth’s orbit and more ground stations are built, Starlink users will likely see improved download speeds and lower latency.

A Reddit member asked a Starlink representative whether Starlink internet users would see slower speeds once more users sign up. The representative said the service will not get overcrowded, and said that the network will get “increasingly great, not increasingly worse” as more satellites are launched.4

Data caps

The Starlink beta FAQ explicitly states that Starlink internet comes with no data caps “at this time.”

  • Starlink beta test data cap: Unlimited

Data caps are a huge deal with satellite internet because they’re often much smaller than you’d find with traditional ISPs—Viasat currently offers the most monthly data of 300 GB.

That means you need to watch your data usage like a hawk with traditional satellite internet providers—but not with Starlink. Of course, the “at this time” in the FAQ makes us wonder if unlimited Starlink data will eventually go away.

Starlink contracts, equipment, and fees

Starlink satellite internet service doesn’t require a contract—a major step up from the other satellite internet providers. (Though, to be fair, both Viasat and HughesNet offer a no-contract plan, but it costs quite a bit extra.)

You can even cancel your service and return your equipment within 30 days for a full refund of your equipment fee. You can also get your $99 deposit refunded if you sign up for Starlink and cancel before service reaches your area.

We’re glad a full equipment refund is offered, because Starlink’s dish and router don’t come cheap.

Starlink customer equipment

Your Starlink equipment kit comes with a satellite dish and router that costs $599 plus shipping and handling. Our preorder cost breakdown showed a $50 shipping and handling fee, which isn’t awful, but that puts Starlink’s total equipment cost above the $600 mark.

  • Starlink satellite dish and router cost: $599 plus shipping and handling

In a recent Q&A session, Musk noted that the dish costs more than $1,300 to make. This high cost has spurred Starlink to get to work on a new terminal that costs less but provides the same level of performance.5

However, since SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell mentioned that the company would like to drop the price for equipment, inflation has taken a turn and Starlink equipment costs rose.

Musk described the satellite dish as a “UFO on a stick,” and noted that the dish has built-in motors that allow it to position itself at the best angle for your location.

Best of all, the dish can be self-installed using the Starlink app. While Viasat and HughesNet require a professional to come and install your dish, you’re able to take a  plug-and-play approach with the Starlink dish.

Starlink On the App Store | Starlink On Google Play

The Starlink dish works best in 22° below up to 104°F
Heads Up

Starlink’s satellite dish heats itself up when it gets cold so that snow melts off. But its performance in high heat has seen some Starlink beta hopefuls’ dreams melt away.

A beta tester in Arizona lost internet service when his dish overheated in the 120° weather, and another user in Virginia saw their dish overheat in 80-degree weather.6

Starlink satellites and ground terminals

It wouldn’t be satellite internet without satellites, and Starlink has a ton of them. Each satellite is about as big as your office desk and weighs close to 500 pounds—that means the January 2020 Falcon 9 mission carried 30,000 pounds of satellites into space.

Sixty Starlink satellites inside a Falcon 9 rocket's nose cone

60 Starlink satellites are flat-packed into a Falcon 9 nose cone.
Source: Elon Musk/Twitter

Starlink’s goal is to build a megaconstellation of 42,000 satellites to power its internet service across the world. Compared to Viasat and HughesNet, which rely on a few large satellites to create an internet network, Starlink relies on a web of thousands of smaller satellites that surround the Earth.

An image of a globe focused on the northern hemisphere and North America shows where Starlink satellites are in orbit

Current locations of Starlink satellites in Earth’s orbit as of July 6, 2021.
Source: SatelliteMap.space

Spot and track Starlink
Light Bulb

Starlink may be harder to spot in the night sky now thanks to its dimmed lights, but you can use an online app called Find Starlink to track satellites across the globe and near your location.

Along with a massive convoy of satellites, Starlink service relies on ground terminals.

SpaceX originally filed a request with the FCC for 1 million Earth stations, or ground terminals. But thanks to the massive number of beta test applicants, the company amended its request to ask the FCC for permission to build 5 million Earth stations.

A row of about seven Starlink ground terminals, each one is a white sphere with a skirt on the bottom and sits on a concrete pad

These ground terminals feature white, spherical antenna radomes, which protect the sensitive equipment inside. Current and future sites of Starlink Earth stations include:

  • Hawthorne, California
  • Limestone, Maine
  • Conrad, Montana
  • Panaca, Nevada
  • Beekmantown, New York
  • Greenville, Pennsylvania
  • Kalama, Washington
  • North Bend, Washington
  • Redmond, Washington
  • Merrillan, Wisconsin
  • Evanston, Wyoming

Starlink customer service

Starlink’s customer service seems to be fairly self-serve. Many users on Reddit noted that you can’t even get a hold of anyone at Starlink until you become a customer, which makes asking questions beforehand difficult.

In fact, the only option for getting a hold of Starlink support is on the Starlink app. (Android | iOS) Even after scouring the web, we couldn’t find a dedicated Starlink support phone number or email.

A 2021 article on Business Insider may give us the best indication of how good or bad Starlink customer service is doing so far. And to be honest, it seems like current Starlink beta testers are getting a mixed bag when it comes to customer service.

Some customers got quick responses, but others had to wait days or even a week to hear back.

Many customers inquired about moving their dish to a new address other than the one they signed up with. And for reference, it seems like you can as long as you reapply for service at the new address.

Another common complaint is that the included power cable is only 100 feet long. And, as Tom’s Guide’s John R. Quain noted, the cable is attached to the dish, so you can’t simply replace it.7

And don’t forget about service dropouts, which plague most every Starlink customer. Of course, the service is still in beta, so service dropouts are annoying but inevitable as SpaceX gets its satellites in order.

Need to recover your Starlink account?
Pin

If you forgot your Starlink account info, you can now request a password reset by using your account email, phone number, or alternate email address.

Recap: Will Starlink satellite internet be any good?

Starlink is an up-and-coming satellite internet provider that has a lot of great potential. We're keeping a watchful gaze to see if its equipment and service costs eventually drop, and we hope to see its waitlist period shorten.

  • Prices and plans: At $110 a month plus a $599 equipment fee, Starlink could be a tad expensive for some. But compared to other satellite internet providers, it offers great value for the price you pay.
  • Speed: Starlink’s download speeds are still in question, but the beta test advertises 50–250 Mbps with the potential for improved speeds once the service goes fully live.
  • Data caps: Starlink currently gives customers unlimited data, which is leaps and bounds beyond the next highest satellite internet data cap of 300 GB.
  • Contracts, equipment, and fees: Starlink comes with no contract, but its $599 equipment fee is steep. We hope to see a reduced cost for the dish and router in the future—or at least an option to rent.
  • Customer service: Customers have said that Starlink customer service is hit or miss: Sometimes you’ll get an immediate response, other times you’ll wait a week for a reply.

For more info about satellite-based internet services, check out Best Satellite and Internet Providers.

Starlink satellite internet price recap

  • Starlink: $110 a month, 50–250 Mbps download speeds, unlimited data

Data effective 03/23/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Can’t wait for Starlink service?
Info Box

Check out some other rural internet options or compare two more satellite internet providers in our Viasat vs. HughesNet guide.

See all the internet options available in your area.

Starlink review methodology

To take a deep dive into Starlink’s beta testing, we took a look at reports from beta testers on the following features:

  1. Internet speed performance
  2. Customer service reports
  3. Equipment quality and issues

We also took a look at the official Starlink sign-up site and subreddit to learn more about where the beta test is currently available, how you can sign up, how much the service costs, and more.

While we’d love to get hands-on with Starlink and test it ourselves, we felt that these reports gave us a fairly accurate and in-depth look while we wait for service at our home address.

What do Americans think about switching to Starlink?

Many people are stuck with painfully slow speeds from local satellite, DSL, or cable internet providers and are in need of faster internet speeds and a better connection. So what does the nation think about signing up for the Starlink beta—even if it costs more? We surveyed Americans to find out what they think about Elon Musk’s satellite venture.

Starlink survey and speeds compared to broadband.

Over half of Americans say they’ll try Starlink if given the chance

Starlink internet is perfect for those who feel stuck with slow speeds from their internet provider—especially in rural areas where building out cable and fiber networks either takes a long time or is less likely to provide adequate coverage.

By offering nationwide satellite internet service with high speeds and low latency, Starlink may even pull more customers from other top internet providers.

Infographic showing sentiment toward Starlink internet.
  • 51% of internet users say they plan to sign up for the Starlink beta once it becomes available to them.
  • While only 5% of Americans currently use a satellite internet connection, 64% of survey respondents say Starlink’s rollout would make them reconsider their satellite internet stance.
  • 55% of non-satellite internet users say they’d switch to Starlink’s satellite internet service at a higher cost if it resulted in faster internet speeds for their household.

What are the most important factors in deciding whether to make the switch to satellite internet?

Common activities like browsing the internet, social media, and checking email don’t require blazing fast speeds, but other internet services may require more bandwidth than DSL, satellite, or other providers offer. And the more programs you have running, especially when they’re media or video-based, the faster internet speeds you’ll need to cover all your bases.

Top priorities for Starlink internet users.

Here's what Americans want Starlink’s faster internet speeds to cover:

  • 3 out of every 4 (74%) internet users want to stream high-quality video on platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu.
  • 72% want to have high-quality video calls on platforms such as Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime.
  • Over half (56%) want to play online video games with high performance.

With higher internet speeds and less latency than other providers, people are willing to dig into their wallets a bit more every month for Starlink if it means they can do what they want on the internet.

Switching to Starlink—people are willing to pay the price

  • 44% of survey respondents say they’d pay the $99/month price tag for Starlink internet if they were given an option to make payments on the $499 equipment fee.
  • Nationwide, the average internet speed is 57.2 Mbps. Starlink speed tests have shown an average speed of 103.1 Mbps—that means Starlink is 80% faster than the national average.
  • The average monthly internet bill is $65/month. Starlink is slated to cost $99/month.
  • The average American pays $1.13/Mbps per month for internet, while Starlink users would pay $0.96/Mbps per month.

Even though Starlink may be a bit heavier on the budget than the average internet service, our survey suggests that many Americans would be willing to pay more to get the internet speeds they need.

Methodology

The analysts at Reviews.org surveyed 500 Americans 18 and older to determine how they felt about Starlink’s satellite internet service offering compared to their existing internet connection type, speed, and price.

The survey has a sample error of ± 4.5% and a 95% level of confidence.

Starlink speed data was sourced from 168 speed test reports from various beta test users across the country.

FAQ

Still have questions about SpaceX Starlink satellite internet? Let’s see if we can help.

When can we start using Starlink?

Starlink has kept quiet about which areas it will roll out service to and when it will happen. So if your neighborhood doesn’t get Starlink service yet, keep your ear to the ground and check your address regularly on the official Starlink site.

Can you use Starlink anywhere?

Right now, Starlink service is mostly focused on the northernmost states in the US, with some exceptions. And as for countries where Starlink is offered, you’re limited to the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Can Starlink be mobile?

If you’re hoping to take your Starlink internet service with you on a road trip or to your cabin, you might be disappointed. Right now, the service is limited to one address. (Though you can update your service address once you receive your equipment.)

Does weather affect Starlink?

Weather isn’t as huge an issue for satellite internet as some make it out to be, and Starlink is no exception.

The satellite dish is actually set up to operate in temperatures as low as 22° below zero and up to 104°F, though some beta testers reported losing service because their dish got too hot.

What will Starlink internet cost?

Starlink internet service costs $110 per month on top of a one-time $599 equipment fee. Elon Musk has stated that he hopes to bring the equipment price down in the future—maybe to a cost as low as $250.

Will Starlink be unlimited data?

Right now, Starlink customers get unlimited data. But the official Starlink site leaves the door open for future data caps by saying, “At this time there are no data caps under the Starlink Beta program.” So only time will tell if Starlink customers continue to get unlimited data.

Is Starlink fixed broadband?

Starlink is a self-described “low-latency broadband internet system” versus a fixed broadband system.

How fast will Starlink internet be?

Starlink promises download speeds of 50–250 Mbps, but some customers have seen speeds slower than 50 Mbps—and some even saw speeds faster than 150 Mbps.

Because SpaceX is still launching satellites and building base stations, it’s hard to nail down just how fast Starlink will be. But our hope is that more satellites will improve download speeds for all.

Is Starlink good for gaming?

You can technically game on satellite internet, and Starlink’s low latency makes that even more true.

Reported latency for Starlink was 40 ms, which is fairly reasonable even for a first-person shooter (FPS) game. The only things to watch out for? Slow download speeds (for patching or downloading new games) and service disconnects.

Is Starlink good for streaming?

The latest Starlink median download speed reported by Ookla hit 105 Mbps, which is enough to stream Netflix or Disney+ even in 4K.

Just know that any other connected devices, like laptops, cell phones, or home security systems, will also use up some of that Starlink bandwidth and may put a cramp in your Loki binge session.

Will Starlink replace 5G?

We don’t believe Starlink will replace 5G, since 5G internet service will likely be an easy way to connect to the internet in more urban areas. Starlink, on the other hand, will likely become a great option for those living in rural areas where 5G service doesn’t extend due to a lack of existing cell structures.

In fact, you could say that these two new internet services might complement each other. 5G’s short-distance networks are optimal for densely populated urban areas, and Starlink’s requirement that your dish have a line of sight to the sky is optimal for wide open, rural spaces.

Sources

  1. Softwaresaur, Reddit, “Starlink Availability: Current and New Beta Test Locations, New Pre-orders and Conversions,” July 2021. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  2. Josh Fomon, Ookla, "Starlink Hits 100+ Mbps Download Speed in 15 Countries During Q4 2021," March 2022. Accessed March 23, 2022.
  3. Smoke-away, Reddit, “List of Confirmed Starlink Speed Tests,” November 2020. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  4. DishyMcFlatFace, Reddit, “We Are the Starlink Team, Ask Us Anything!.” November 2020. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  5. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, “Starlink’s ‘Next-Generation’ User Terminal Will Cost a Lot Less, Musk Says,” June 2021. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  6. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, “Starlink Dishes Go Into ‘Thermal Shutdown’ Once They Hit 122° Fahrenheit,” June 2021. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  7. John R. Quain, Tom’s Guide, “Starlink Review (Hands On): How Good Is Elon Musk’s Satellite Internet Service?,” April 2021. Accessed July 6, 2021.
Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally
Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

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