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What is Starlink, and what are its benefits?

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Space X’s Starlink is a satellite-based internet service that promises to bring high-speed, low-latency internet to remote and underserved areas around the globe.

But what exactly is Starlink, and how does it work? Let’s break down everything you need to know about Space X’s Starlink internet service, from how it works to its benefits and weaknesses.

What Is Starlink, And How Does It Work?

Starlink promises high-speed, low-latency internet to remote and underserved areas worldwide.

This internet service is unique because it relies on a network of satellites, so there's minimal ground infrastructure. Every satellite has multiple antennas that connect with user terminals or ground stations via Ku-band frequencies.

They also have lasers that facilitate communication between the satellites. This creates a mesh network that promises to be more resistant to interference and outages.

Where Is Starlink Available?

Starlink is now available to Australian residents. Starlink is currently in beta testing, but anyone can sign up to be a beta tester and access the service.

Initially, Starlink could only deliver internet to remote and low-density areas, but now anyone in Australia can order a Starlink plan.

How to Connect to Starlink

Starlink uses a constellation of small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) to deliver internet coverage. The Starlink kit has all the necessary components to set up your connection, including:

  • A Starlink dish

  • A dish mount

  • A WiFi router base unit

It also comes with a 75-foot cable to connect the dish to the router and the base unit’s power cable. When mounting the dish, you need to thread the cable via the tripod before plugging it into the dish mast.

The cable's ends have a similar connector type, but the plugs are different to help you determine which side plugs into the base unit and dish.

After setting up your home network, you’ll activate your account by contacting Starlink’s customer service.

What Are the Benefits Of Starlink?

  • Low Latency and High Bandwidth

Starlink’s low Earth orbit satellites function at lower altitudes, which reduces latency. Latency is the duration data takes to move from one point to the next via electromagnetic radiation.

The latency in geostationary satellites (GEO) satellites is typically about 477 milliseconds but less than 27 milliseconds in LEO satellites.

Additionally, LEO satellites deliver data via high-frequency bands within the K-under band. These high frequencies have shorter wavelengths which ensures:

  • Better data quality

  • Lower Latency

  • Wider bandwidth

  • Fast Data Transmission Speeds

Starlink’s operating altitude is only 550 km, so an internet signal makes a round trip of 1100 km from the satellite to the dish. This short distance allows faster internet compared to cable and standard satellites.

  • Easy-To-Setup User Terminal

The Starlink installation is simple and doesn't require specialized skills or knowledge. The package has the necessary cables, mounting brackets, a WiFi router and a dish or plate.

Once you identify an open area with a clear sky view, install the Starlink dish facing upwards using the mounting bracket. After installation, the dish auto-adjusts direction to ensure the best signal.

  • Reachability in Remote Areas

Unlike other satellite internet services, Starlink doesn’t rely on physical infrastructures. Your dish connects to the LEO satellites wirelessly, which allows internet access from any location, including remote areas.

Potential Downsides

  • Cost

Starlink's monthly internet plans are more expensive than the fastest NBN plans. Furthermore, there are additional initial costs to buy the Starlink package, which can be steep for most people.

  • Reliability Issues

Starlink’s service requires a clear line-of-sight or an unobstructed sky view on a roof or open ground away from tall buildings and trees. The frequencies can only travel short distances and can't penetrate physical obstructions.

Certain weather conditions can also affect the connection.

Starlink is an exciting new technology that has the potential to change the way we access the internet. If you are looking for an affordable and reliable way to get high-speed internet, ask a certified electrical installer for advice on installing SpaceX’s Starlink.

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