Eight days ago I was happy with the speed of the Starlink satellite internet system that I'd been chosen to be a public beta tester for, but not with the reliability.
As I said in "My first Starlink beta test: fast but loses satellite connection," it wasn't a surprise that the connection kept dropping, since I had to put the Starlink on its tripod on one of our decks. We live in rural south Salem, Oregon, and our home is surrounded by large oaks and firs.
So I was eager to see how the Starlink did when the Ridgeline Roof Mount I'd ordered arrived, which it did yesterday.
Installing the Starlink on our roof was easy. I'd already gone to Lowe's and purchased 16 5-pound red bricks, which were needed to weight the Ridgeline Roof Mount with the required 80 pounds of stability.
Laying a rubber mat on our roofline was easy, as was carrying the Starlink up a ladder in the bag that was included in the Ridgeline Roof Mount kit. The dish popped into the receptacle on the mount with a satisfying click. Then I threw the cable/power cord over the side of the roof, and thence through a sliding glass door into our living room.
My wife had figured out how to tape some insulation over the crack in the door to keep cold air out. I'd cut a small piece of wood to keep the door from being opened while we tested the Starlink in what hopefully would be its permanent location, after which we could drill a hole for the cable through our siding.
Then came the big moment. Plug in the Starlink, give it some time to find the satellites, wait for the router to come on line, choose "Starlink" for my iPhone's wi-fi network, and see how fast and reliable the Starlink is in its rooftop location.
Initially the connection dropped a few times, before becoming highly reliable.
We were able to watch an episode of Bridgerton on Netflix with ease, using Starlink wi-fi. It was a joy to see how much crisper the picture was, since our crappy 6 Mbps CenturyLink DSL often forces Netflix to supply us with a fuzzy image, and sometimes no video at all as we wait for buffering to take place.
Eventually we lost the Starlink connection around the time we switch to watching the KGW Portland evening news. When I checked the Statistics page on the Starlink iPhone app before I went to bed, I saw there had been 12 minutes of "Beta Downtime" in the seven hours since our Starlink had been operating.
That must have caused the dropped connection, since the router was showing a red light and wasn't able to reconnect to the satellites.
In the 27 or so hours the Starlink has been on our roof, download speeds have varied a lot -- from an unusual low of 6 Mbps, to the more typical 40-90 Mbps, all the way to an occasional 140 Mbps.
I'm beyond happy with both the speed and reliability.
The connection hasn't dropped once due to an obstruction, according to the Statistics I made a screenshot of not long ago. There was no downtime in the last 12 hours due to an obstruction and just 49 seconds when there were no satellites. However, there was a lengthy Beta Downtime of 48 minutes this morning, the price of being a Beta tester. Likely that's an aberration.
As soon as the Starlink app was released a number of months ago, I went up on our roof in the same location the Starlink is now and tried to figure out if these three tall firs and a couple of significant oaks to the north of our house were going to pose an obstruction problem. We own the property they're on, but I wasn't eager to cut down the trees.
By the way, that 5 Mb iPhone photo just took 15 seconds to upload to Typepad, my blogging service. With DSL, I have to wait a couple of minutes for a photo to upload. At the moment Starlink has an upload speed of 5.1 Mbps, while our DSL usually is about .75 Mbps.
When I sat on our roof a few months ago in the same place the Starlink is now and checked for obstructions, trying to get the tilt of my iPhone at a more or less correct angle, I was sure those trees were going to be a problem, since they appeared in the lower portion of the Starlink obstruction checker.
But this afternoon I sat next to the Starlink and placed my iPhone alongside the dish at the same angle the dish is at, about 35 degrees, I believe. This is the pleasingly clear screenshot. So I guess the lesson is that it is difficult to tell what, if anything, is going to be an obstruction until someone actually installs a Starlink.
This is the speed test I did a few minutes ago. As noted above, this speed is pretty typical for what we've been getting the past 27 hours. It's great, given that we never get above 7 Mbps with our DSL, and that's on a good day.
The Starlink router is generating an acceptable wi-fi signal. It seems to be usable everywhere in our 3,200 square foot house. So all in all, there's little I can criticize about Starlink now that the dish is up on our roof with a clear view of the northern sky.
Sure, it will be nice to have the Beta Downtime go away, since I don't feel comfortable ditching our DSL until Starlink is more reliable.
But if the outages are limited to a few minutes a day, that's fine. It's easy to shift over to DSL wi-fi, though now that I've experienced the much faster Starlink speed, it is already tough for me to put up with DSL.
A final note: I'm impressed with Starlink support staff. Whenever I've asked them a question, which so far has been limited to the status of an order, they've responded quickly and in a friendly manner.