Real, actual, fast rural internet is almost here.

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Sep 2, 2020
115
UP, Michigan, USA
{TL:DR It’s true.}

We recently retired and moved to 80 acres of forest about a mile from Lake Superior. Everything was great except ...

No cell. No Internet, except for satellite service. We knew this, and knew we could adapt. We were able to get a land line phone service and we got the fastest satellite based internet service available to us at the time. Internet speed was OK if there were no clouds in the sky. On a clear day I could get up to 3Mbs download speed, but if it was overcast, this would fall to just a trickle. If thick clouds passed south of us we lost internet entirely. There was also a data cap that prevented any kind of online entertainment like Netflix.

So, we adapted. Netflix DVD rental is still around and has most movies we want. The satellite internet service we had allows unlimited usage between 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM so we updated all our apps then (I am NOT a morning person). This worked for us. Just.

Before we moved, while browsing my news feeds one morning, I read about the satellite internet service that SpaceX planned to build and that they would eventually have more than 12,000 satellites in low orbit acting as a mesh providing service to the entire planet. They claimed that the large number of satellites and their low orbit would allow everyone to enjoy hi speed speed internet service with low latency. My first reaction was “Riiiiight, I’ll believe it when I see it”. I was interested enough to follow their progress in the coming months. Then we retired, sold the house in the suburbs, bought a home in the woods and life got busy.

While we were learning to live without good internet, SpaceX was quietly doing what they said they would. They got FCC approval and started putting up satellites 60 at a time on a regular basis. Before long, they had over 900 satellites in orbit and opened a beta testing program to the public.

The public beta is initially only open to the northern US and southern Canada. Beta testers have to purchase the hardware for $500 and there is a $99 monthly fee. They said high speeds and low latency are available today and will improve as satellites continue to be added. They also said that beta testers should expect short outages as the service is tweaked and things they discover get fixed.

After lot’s of thought and conversation with my wife, in July I applied for the pubic beta program. I got my invitation 2 weeks ago and ordered the hardware that day. It arrived 2 days ago. Setup was surprisingly simple.

I now have download speeds from 120Mbs to 190Mbs on a clear day, and 57Mbs to 98Mbs when the clouds roll in. We haven’t had a good storm yet so that test is still pending. So far it has been wonderful.

They plan to go live with the service to the general public sometime in 2021. I have no idea what the price or terms will be. The public beta program is still accepting applications.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,060
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
I've been following this as well, pretty cool tech on part of Starlink. Unfortunately I am too far north at the moment to be a part of the beta test, not that we need it as we already have fast and reliable service on cable, but many in the area don't.

You mention your speeds but do you know what you are getting for latency? From what I can see the latency is supposed to be quite low, that's what might tempt me to switch, on a good day I'm getting 100ms to servers in the Chicago area.
 
Sep 2, 2020
115
UP, Michigan, USA
I've been following this as well, pretty cool tech on part of Starlink. Unfortunately I am too far north at the moment to be a part of the beta test, not that we need it as we already have fast and reliable service on cable, but many in the area don't.

You mention your speeds but do you know what you are getting for latency? From what I can see the latency is supposed to be quite low, that's what might tempt me to switch, on a good day I'm getting 100ms to servers in the Chicago area.
This is what I got this morning at 9AM with clear sky.
C28AA917-CA4B-447F-B6EB-EFCDD677281D.png

And this is what I just got with about 80% overcast.
C8822D58-0E2D-4812-A060-1E4ADA83FFB2.png

I think the loaded latency is more real.
 
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Sep 2, 2020
115
UP, Michigan, USA
Got this moments after the last one. Still 80% overcast.
4384BA2C-42AF-4B56-A8AC-925F0FF3888B.jpeg

Jumps around a bit as the satellites whizz by.
 
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Sep 2, 2020
115
UP, Michigan, USA
This is what I get, I always get 120 download, but my latency is all over the map.

View attachment 267437
I would’ve expected cable to be more steady than that. I wonder if the problem is between the cable company and its connection to the Internet itself.

With good download but high latency, what kind of symptoms do you see on your end?
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,060
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
It's something to do with my cable company, but it's been this way for 3.5 years now. A big part of it is simply distance, I'm a long ways from the majority of the servers on the internet.

Honestly it operates normally for the vast majority of uses, online gaming is the only place it comes into question.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Never been an issue down here (lower, just north of the Ohio line). I can do in the excess of 220 MBS and more if I want to pay for it. All fiber optic here and privately held.

Gone are the days of dial up but cell service is still spotty, not that it matters, I don't have many people I want to talk to and I despise texting..

Push comes to shove and no cell service, I can always use my SAT phone but it's an expensive date. I have it for hunting trips with no cell service available. Works anywhere in the world, all satellite direct communication but again, it comes at a price (around 2 bucks a minute, voice or data transmission and the transfer speed is super).
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,495
South Puget Sound, WA
Are there monthly bandwidth restrictions? If so, how much? Do they have a coverage map?
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Not a clue, my wife pays the bill so I cannot answer but I don't believe it's excessive. It's excellent service and has been for a number of years.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,116
Downeast Maine
I have a decent broadband connection through our local provider, Spectrum, but maybe I would make the switch if Starlink can keep the price the same after beta testing is done. Paying to be a beta tester is unappealing to me, so I will wait.
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,060
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Are there monthly bandwidth restrictions? If so, how much? Do they have a coverage map?

Have a look at this, I believe inside the 2 red bands are the trial area Starlink is targeting first, but as you can see they already have a massive amount of global coverage with the sats that are up now.

Click the "show" button at the top left to see active satellites.

 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,466
Northern NH
Reportedly the big cost is the household ground equipment, Space X has to subsidize it to get the service out in public. The incremental cost to actually service more subscribers is reportedly quite low. What it does do is put a cap on the monopoly that cable companies have.
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
What I wonder is, how many pieces of junk can you put up there before they start running into each other?????
 
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Sep 2, 2020
115
UP, Michigan, USA
Are there monthly bandwidth restrictions? If so, how much? Do they have a coverage map?
At the moment there are no data restrictions of any kind. Yesterday the Starlink engineers held an “Ask me anything” session on the StarLink forum at Reddit. The data cap question was asked. Here was their answer:

“So we really don't want to implement restrictive data caps like people have encountered with satellite internet in the past. Right now we're still trying to figure a lot of stuff out--we might have to do something in the future to prevent abuse and just ensure that everyone else gets quality service.”
 

tlc1976

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2012
833
Northwest Lower Michigan
Might be something to think about if Truestream doesn’t deliver, and they will be at 100mbps max. I’ve been signed up with them for a couple years. Last year they told me it would be this fall. Now they have no idea. I’ve got no other options if I want to work from home.
 
Sep 2, 2020
115
UP, Michigan, USA
Are there monthly bandwidth restrictions? If so, how much? Do they have a coverage map?
StarLink does not have a coverage map but I just noticed that there is a map of sorts here:

The known invite range is 44.9°N to 51.1°N at the moment.

The 900 or so satellites are in non-geosynchronous orbits so they cover all of the planet except the polar regions. Another launch of 60 satellites is scheduled for tonight, BTW.

Here is a live map of all the satellites And
here is an how to for the map
 
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Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,719
Northern Maine
Hummm. Very interesting to the degree I need to look deeper into this.
Getting tired of paying for DSL that is very slow and there is no way I'll be seeing CATV anytime soon.
 

MTASH

Burning Hunk
Dec 24, 2018
169
Montana
Interesting indeed. I am in the beta test zone but not sure I want to try it yet for the cost involved. We have no access to cable/dsl/whatever, so are on a radio-based relay system to the nearest city. I just tested at 12 Mbps down/7 Mbps up. :(
 

tlc1976

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2012
833
Northwest Lower Michigan
Looks like I just squeak by at 45.3.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,116
Downeast Maine
Hummm. Very interesting to the degree I need to look deeper into this.
Getting tired of paying for DSL that is very slow and there is no way I'll be seeing CATV anytime soon.
What kinds of speeds do you see at the lake? Today I tested our Spectrum connection at 110 mbps download and 11 mbps upload, and that's with storm conditions. Starlink won't make financial sense for us unless they can bring the price down.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,719
Northern Maine
What kinds of speeds do you see at the lake? Today I tested our Spectrum connection at 110 mbps download and 11 mbps upload, and that's with storm conditions. Starlink won't make financial sense for us unless they can bring the price down.
My last DSL speed test was on 11-12. I was having serious problems with everything. Down was 2.05. Up was 0.77. Ping was 37.
On 10-29 it was 1.35, 0.69 and 32 respectively.
It's 31.00 plus fees per month and useless.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,116
Downeast Maine
My last DSL speed test was on 11-12. I was having serious problems with everything. Down was 2.05. Up was 0.77. Ping was 37.
On 10-29 it was 1.35, 0.69 and 32 respectively.
It's 31.00 plus fees per month and useless.
We pay $75 for our internet and it is one of the cheapest deals offered by our provider. We could knock off $10/month by dropping the VOIP which we never have connected. If I were in your region Starlink would be looking pretty awesome.
 
Sep 2, 2020
115
UP, Michigan, USA
We pay $75 for our internet and it is one of the cheapest deals offered by our provider. We could knock off $10/month by dropping the VOIP which we never have connected. If I were in your region Starlink would be looking pretty awesome.
@SpaceBus What is your latitude?
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,116
Downeast Maine
@SpaceBus What is your latitude?
We are around 44.71 latitude. I checked the "coverage map" for the beta area and we are in it. My wife and I would try the service if we didn't already have fast internet and not working for the past year has put a damper on non essential spending.