Is Starlink a good alternative for rural broadband?

There are multiple benefits to living in a countryside location, but internet connectivity is not among them. Although notable improvements have been made in many villages, with some even enjoying fibre broadband access, coverage is still not universal, and speeds are exceptionally slow in many rural areas.

Last year, a government report from Ofcom found that approximately 123,000 businesses and homes still lack access to a reliable broadband connection and that the distances between rural residences and street cabinets deliver average speeds as low as 10 Mbps.

While there is no substitute for investment in cabling for rural areas, a relatively new option called Starlink internet is being touted as the solution. Read on to find out more

What is Starlink?

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has used his SpaceX company to launch a series of Starlink satellites into low orbit to provide connectivity. The concept was to create a network of satellites that are internet-enabled and offer access to everyone who has a Starlink internet terminal.

What speeds do you get with Starlink?

The speeds available with Starlink vary considerably on whereabouts in the world you live. Speed is also impacted by how many Starlink subscribers are present in the country. A Starlink UK speed test from September last year recorded download speeds of around 111.66Mbps. Britain has a fixed broadband speed average of 53.16Mbps at present, making Starlink faster than many fibre broadband deals.

How much does Starlink cost?

A Starlink terminal is required to use the service and includes a router and a small satellite dish. The dish can be affixed to the side of a property and connected to the router by a cable. At present, Starlink costs £489 to purchase with £50 for postage. Currently, internet access costs £89 a month but will likely reduce as subscribers continue to join.

How does Starlink work?

All users need to do to connect to Starlink is set up their satellite dish at home. The dish receives the signal and then passes the bandwidth onto the router. Essentially, this allows those with a terminal to enjoy internet access from any location on earth.

Examples of Starlink in the UK

Starlink availability in Britain is limited currently to parts of northern and south-west England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. However, coverage has been good in the rural parts of these locations, while fixed-line services are not available and mobile broadband signals remain poor.

As a rule, If you are based in the coverage zone outlined by Starlink, you can get a signal providing that your property has the sky in clear view.

Is Starlink suitable for rural areas?

Finally, while Starlink does offer a solution to the broadband issues experienced by rural areas it does come at a price.

If your lifestyle or business requires fast broadband, and you can’t get a faster connection from either a mobile link, fixed-line or other types of broadband it may be the answer. However, if affordability and budget are a concern, it may not be the best solution.