Data Doctors: Starlink internet service updates

Q: What’s the latest on the Starlink satellite internet service?

A: Much has changed since I last wrote about this highly anticipated satellite internet service option, but it’s still a work in progress.

Since they started making the service publicly available in October 2020, the number of low-orbit satellites in the network has more than tripled to more than 2,000, which has improved coverage and performance.

The long-term first phase goal is to have nearly 12,000 satellites in the network to provide coverage for the entire planet.

The ground-based satellite dish has gone from a round concave design to a flat rectangular dish that is lighter and thinner. The associated Wi-Fi router has also seen a slight upgrade with an additional MU-MIMO antenna (3×3 vs. 2×2) for more simultaneous connections on the local network.

Not for the masses

Despite all of the updates to the network and equipment, it’s still not an option for those who live in densely populated areas.

Starlink is focused on underserved rural areas that typically don’t have good internet service options, so it’s not likely ever going to be an alternative to cable and DSL services in big cities.

Availability map

Another helpful update is the availability map that’s been added to the Starlink website.

If you have a structure in a rural area or you’re an RV boondocker (RV camping without hookups to electricity, water, or sewage), you can use Google Plus Codes, instead of a physical address, to check for availability.

Ukraine war impact for RV users

For those who travel around the country in an RV, finding a solid and affordable internet connection has always been a challenge.

Some early RV adopters of Starlink figured out a way to use the service on a mobile basis by changing their service address before they moved to a different area.

This approach didn’t always work, but it was worth the extra effort because of the speed and unlimited data service that Starlink provided.

A recent change to the service announced by Elon Musk was the activation of “mobile roaming,” so that users who were sent equipment in Ukraine could use it on the go.

Many RVers who have been using Starlink are reporting that mobile roaming has been activated on their connection, eliminating the need to find a nearby service address before they move to a new area.

Since this is a work in progress, there’s no guarantee that it will be activated for every user and that it won’t be subject to change in the future. Starlink has already created a business service option that is substantially more expensive, so it’s quite possible that they could create a mobile package for RVers that could be more expensive in the future.

Price Increases

Starlink announced that it will be increasing prices on May 21 on both the monthly service and the hardware for new orders.

The monthly service will go from $99 to $110, and the price for the base hardware will go from $499 to $599, unless you are already on the waiting list. The price for those currently on the waiting list will go up to $549.

Ken Colburn is founder and CEO of Data Doctors Computer Services. Ask any tech question on Facebook or Twitter.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up