RVers, your internet struggles may be a thing of the past with a new service from SpaceX! Elon Musk’s satellite Starlink internet service is currently in beta testing and may be a great option for the full-time RV lifestyle.
Every week, I see countless posts in an RV group asking about what internet people suggest or what internet set-up works best in an RV. The suggestions are usually a haphazard combination of devices and services. Now, there is a new service that will hopefully eliminate the woes of RVers: Starlink internet by SpaceX.
Currently available as a beta program, Starlink internet is a satellite internet service offering broadband speeds and low latencies in remote areas. For non-techies, CloudFare defines a latency as the time that passes between a user action and the resulting response.
Starlink will deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable.Starlink
Sounds like every RVer’s dream!
One beta user tested Starlink internet in the remote forests of northern Idaho. In the area the internet was tested, there was no cellular service available. With the terminal/satellite dish set up in a relatively open area of the forest, the Starlink internet speeds were:
- Download speed of 120 Mbps
- Upload speed of 12 Mbps
- Latency of 37 ms
The Starlink internet speed decreased, however, when the terminal/satellite dish was set up closer to the trees. This decrease in performance is because Starlink needs a clear line of sight to the skies where the SpaceX satellites are.
When speed tests were conducted in a more urban area, the results were better. The resulting speeds for “limited obstruction” were: 135 Mbps download speed, 25 Mbps uploads, and 21 ms latency. The speeds for “significant obstruction” were: 46 Mbps download speeds, 15 Mbps uploads, and 41 ms latency.
Starlink is promising users data speeds from 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps and latency from 20 ms to 40 ms. Latency is expected to drop to 16 ms to 19 ms in 2021.
For reference, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines high-speed (or broadband) internet as having a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps and an upload speed of 3 Mbps.
Testing published by PCMag found that Starlink internet was faster than traditional satellites. Tests conducted by Ookla Speed Intelligence revealed the average speed was up to 79.5 Mbps downloads and 13.8 Mbps uploads.
Starlink internet was compared to HughesNet and Viasat’s Exede. At the same time Starlink was being tested, tests for both competitors download, upload, and latency were run. It was found that HughesNet averaged 19.84 Mbps down and Viasat’s averaged 24.75 Mbps down. The upload speeds were only 2.64Mbps and 3.25Mbp respectively. The latency test revealed 728ms and 643ms respectively.
Just for comparison, 4G LTE latency is around 40 ms. A home fiber connection has latency around 2-3 ms.
An important factor for finding an internet provider is the cost. While Starlink internet is currently in the beta phase, emails have been sent out to beta users outlining the fee structure.
Starlink users will be able to use the satellite internet service for just $99 a month plus a one time user fee of $499 for the user terminal, mounting tripod, and router.
This service may be a great option for users who do not have access to traditional cable or fiber broadband (hello, full-time RVers!) There is also apparently no data cap, which is great for full-time families who work remotely and have kids doing online schooling.
However, this service is still in the beta phase, and still has a ways to go before it is a full-fledged service. Check out the video by Mobile Internet Resource Center for an update.
Until Starlink is widely available, check out this article on Unrestricted Internet Access For RVers.