Yesterday the long-awaited box from Starlink arrived after I'd been notified that I was able to be part of the public beta test for this groundbreaking effort to bring broadband to underserved areas via thousands of low-altitude satellites. I happily paid for the equipment.
Showing how old I am (72), I looked around for an installation manual. Then I realized that the sum total of the instructions included in the box were on the sheet that caught my eye when I first opened it up.
So I gathered that you set up the dish, plug it in, then fire up the Starlink app I had on my iPhone. Pleasingly, all the cables and power supply were already inserted into the proper places in the pieces of equipment.
Since I hadn't gotten the roof mount I'd ordered, and it was nighttime anyway, the only viable option I had for testing the Starlink was to set it up on a small table on our upstairs deck.
It faces north, where the Starlink satellites are located currently, so that was good. Not good were the many nearby oak and fir trees on our property in rural south Salem, Oregon. Thus I wasn't expecting much from this first test, since our roof has a considerably better view of the sky than the deck.
Getting Starlink up and running was very easy. After plugging the equipment in, and giving the router time to set itself up, I was asked to provide a password for the Starlink wi-fi network. Then I watched the Starlink app as the dish tried to connect with the satellites.
It took a few minutes for a connection to be established. That was exciting, since given the rather crappy location of the dish, I was worried that no connection at all would be possible.
The app asked me to do a speed test. I did several of them.
They ranged between 26 Mbps and 14o Mbps. Here's a screenshot of the fastest result, which thrilled me -- since our horrible CenturyLink DSL is hugely slower. The second speed test screenshot is from this morning when I was using the DSL wi-fi.
Aside from the much faster Starlink download and upload speeds, it's interesting that the Starlink latency (definition here) is so much lower than the DSL latency, even though obviously the Starlink signal has to go into space and back.
I guess having our internet connection start and finish via copper phone lines isn't so great, something I already knew after suffering through many years of DSL.
Unfortunately, the marvelous Starlink connection only lasted a few minutes before, I assume, a satellite signal was obstructed by the trees. Sometimes the connection was restored quickly, but sometimes it took quite a while. This wasn't surprising, given the location of the dish on our deck and the proximity to the afore-mentioned trees.
The Ridgeline Roof Mount I ordered a few days ago should arrive next week. That will allow me to try placing the Starlink dish in various places on our roof, since the mount is secured by the weight of concrete blocks or bricks rather than being fastened in place by screws.
I suspect the reliability of Starlink will be greater once the dish is on the roof. However, I've checked for obstructions via the Starlink app. One oak and three firs appear to be obstructing a totally clear view of the northern sky, so there's a decent chance we still will have connection interruptions.
Starlink support FAQs say that as more satellites are launched, obstructions will be less of an issue. If we still have a problem with losing the connection after the dish is on the roof, my plan is to ask for advice from Starlink support staff.
Should we have the large trees cut down (they're on our property, a benefit of living on ten acres), or is there a decent chance that upcoming satellite launches will cause any dropped connection problems to fade away?
Regardless, I'm confident that Starlink will become our conduit to genuine high speed broadband. I'm beyond tired of having to deal with CenturyLink DSL. I've enquired as to whether we ever will get fiber optic out here in the "wilderness" five miles from the city limits of Oregon's capital.
A CenturyLink manager said, no. The day we can ditch CenturyLink can't come soon enough for me.