Starlink Internet Review: Plans, Pricing, and Speeds

Starlink
  • Icon Blank
    Overall rating: 3.8/5
  • pro
    Speed and latency – 4.9/5
  • pro
    Reliability – 3.0/5
  • pro
    Data – 4.5/5
  • pro
    Value – 2.6/5

Andreas Rivera
May 06, 2024
Icon Time To Read12 min read

Starlink has quickly become one of the preferred ways of getting internet in places without other options. However, the price and DIY setup can be barriers for customers looking for a simple, affordable way to get online, which is how it’s designed and marketed.

It’s been only a few years since Elon Musk’s SpaceX began launching Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO). Still, the satellite internet provider has already made an astounding impact worldwide.

While its technology and business practices set it apart from the competition, Starlink has drawbacks. Prospective customers should know that it’s among the most expensive satellite internet options, with a staggering startup cost of at least $599.

"Latency was the biggest surprise. We got 40ms, which was enough to stream live TV. That was not an option before." — Starlink customer Jim Olson, Colorado

Dedicated customer service is sparse, with DIY installation, and the only way to connect with support is through tickets on the website or phone app.

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How I wrote this Starlink review

Hi, I’m Andreas Rivera, a technology writer with a nearly decade-long career reviewing products and services. For this Starlink review, I communicated with more than a dozen different Starlink users in different parts of the world to find out how Starlink meets its customers’ needs. I also drew from first-hand testing, proprietary data on speeds and pricing, and research into the satellite internet industry and the technology that drives it.

Starlink plans and pricing

Starlink divides its plans into four main categories: Two fixed and two mobile. Starlink Standard is the entry-level package, which is what you need if you want a home connection. It offers unlimited data at speeds that rival Hughesnet and Viasat

Starlink Priority is the plan recommended for people who want even faster internet or own a business. It comes in three different priority data plans, each much more expensive. 

The two mobile options are expensive, but you can take them on the road. Starlink Mobile is ideal for RVs, campers, and other nomads—you just need to specify if you're traveling regionally or globally. The Mobile option requires you to be stationary to use. Starlink Mobile Priority is the most luxurious plan, marketed for boats and mobile businesses. It’s the only plan that allows you to connect while you’re in motion.

Plan
Price
Equipment fee
Download Speed
Latency
Starlink Standard$120.00/mo.$599.0020–100Mbps25–60ms
Starlink Priority$140.00–$500.00/mo.$599.00–$2,50040–220Mbps25–60ms
Starlink Mobile$150.00–$250.00/mo.$599.005–50Mbps<90ms
Starlink Mobile Priority$250.00–$5,000.00/mo.$2500.0040–220Mbps<90ms

*Customers that are on pace to exceed more than 850GB of data per month may be slowed down.

Starlink unpacked equipment

Image by SatelliteInternet.com

Starlink equipment costs

Starlink is the only satellite internet provider that requires you to purchase its equipment instead of leasing it. When you sign up, you'll receive a self-install kit that comes with everything you need to get online right away—including the satellite dish (nicknamed Dishy McFlatface by Elon Musk and SpaceX), the Wi-Fi router, an AC power supply, and the proprietary cables that connect everything.

The Standard Kit costs $599, and the Flat High Performance Kit is $2,500. Why so much for the High Performance? It’s designed to capture signals from more satellites to stay connected while moving, making it the only option for the in-motion packages (aka yachts).

Starlink also sells its routers separately if you need to replace the one in your kit or use it as a mesh node to extend the reach of your Wi-Fi. For U.S. customers, Starlink offers a one-year limited warranty on its equipment.

Enter your zip code to see all the best Starlink plans available in your area.

How we rate and compare satellite internet providers

We break down our reviews of satellite internet providers into four categories.

Speed

Takes into account the provider’s download/upload speeds and average latency.

Reliability

Rates the consistency of service and access to customer support.

Data

Rates the allotment of high-speed data in a provider’s plans, taking into account priority data and options for purchasing more data.

Value

Looks at the pricing (including fees, discounts and special offers) of services for what you’re getting and compared to competitors.

To keep a fair comparison, we rate satellite internet providers only against other satellite internet competitors.

Our Starlink provider rating by category

Speed and latency

4.7 out of 5

Your Starlink download speed will depend on your location and the changing state of the satellite constellation. According to Starlink’s speed map, typical speeds throughout the U.S. range between 100Mbps and 200Mbps, which is consistent with the speeds customers reported in interviews.

While Starlink Standard will give you speeds around or slightly faster than Hughesnet and Viasat, where Starlink really shines is the stark difference in latency. Not only have thousands of Starlink satellites been launched since 2019, but they also orbit closer to the Earth’s surface to provide stronger and faster connections with lower latency compared to Viasat or Hughesnet’s geostationary satellites.

Around the U.S., Starlink latency runs between 30 and 50 milliseconds (ms), compared to Hughesnet and Viasat, which clock in latency as high as 800ms. The improved latency makes Starlink ideal for buffer-free streaming and online gaming—activities that are frustrating or nonexistent for Hughesnet and Viasat customers.

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Is Starlink good for gaming?

Starlink is easily the best choice for gaming over satellite internet.

Latency (or ping) can make or break your multiplayer gaming experience. With latency as high as 800ms, satellite internet can make real-time multiplayer games that require fast reactions (think Fortnite, League of Legends, or Rocket League) impossible to play. Many games won’t even connect with such high ping. 

Not to mention that if you’re on a service with low data caps, you’ll easily chew through your allotment by playing and downloading games. Plenty of games and consoles have automatic updates that will use up your data when you are not actively playing. 

But Starlink customers who are gamers say they can finally get online to play with friends. 

“I get an average of 50 to 70 ping in gaming. The upload speeds I get are around 15Mbps on average, but these days, to send files or stream on Discord for friends, that's really not enough.” —Starlink customer Eduardo Dias, Germany

Reliability

3.0 out of 5

Starlink’s reliability rating is among the lowest of any provider due in large part to its poor customer support. Limited support is a major source of customer dissatisfaction.

Starlink doesn’t have a dedicated customer support phone number, email address, or live chat option. The only way to get questions answered directly by Starlink is to submit a support ticket through your user account. Customers remarked that this method's response time was slow. It’s concerning since satellite internet is some people’s only line of communication. 

A few customers remarked that they prefer this model, especially after being burned by poor customer service from other providers. Since the service and equipment are designed to be simple to install and activate, they rarely needed customer service and liked the hands-off approach. Even if this is so, it’s no excuse for not having more responsive support for something many people depend on.

Starlink’s speeds vary widely from state to state. For example, Starlink’s speed map shows that customers in Nevada enjoy up to 179Mbps, while Virginia customers have to settle with up to 102Mbps. Speeds and reliability will likely fluctuate as more customers sign up and SpaceX continues to build out its constellation of satellites, launching more every year.

"The customer service is subpar for such a modern company." — Starlink customer Jim Olson, Colorado
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Starlink equipment and installation

Another unorthodox aspect of Starlink is that it is entirely self-installable, which has pros and cons. On one hand, Starlink is designed to work directly out of the box, so there is no need to pay a fee and wait for a technician to come to your home. Lots of people prefer it this way.

Many customers I spoke with were handy enough to mount their dish, drill a hole into their home, and run the cable through. They also told me they understood it could be trouble for other people. 

In most cases, you’ll need additional hardware. The proprietary mounting attachments and cables are available only from Starlink and a handful of retailers. Customers I interviewed told me that once they had the equipment, it was only an afternoon’s work.

If you can’t or are unwilling to self-install, you can hire third-party services to do it. However, you’ll likely pay a premium for professional installation. For example, Best Buy charges $230 for Starlink installation.

Read more about Starlink Installation in our guide.

Image by T.J.  Kolanko | SatelliteInternet.com

Data

4.5 out of 5

Starlink markets its plans as having unlimited high-speed data. While this is technically true, there is some fine print to be aware of. Service providers have only so much bandwidth to offer their customers; Starlink is no exception. 

Starlink’s Fair Use Policy states that to deliver fair and equal speeds to all customers, it may slow speeds for customers who consistently surpass the average usage amount.

The policy doesn’t specify the amount of data, unlike other providers. For example, Viasat identifies normal usage as 850GB per month. However, Starlink customers I’ve spoken to say they’ve rarely experienced slowdowns or outages, if at all.  

Starlink recommends its Priority plans, which guarantee the highest speeds at different data tiers if you use a hefty amount of data. Additionally, you can purchase more high-speed data if you exceed your plan’s allotment. You can’t buy more data on the Standard plan.

Value

2.6 out of 5

Starlink is easily the most expensive service provider, considering the staggering upfront cost of purchasing the equipment and the price of its Priority plans if you need fast, uninterrupted internet.

The standard plan recommended for home use is $120 per month. It’s the same as Hughesnet and Viasat’s most expensive plans but promises drastically better speeds and latency. Be prepared to pay much more for plans with high-priority data or mobile capabilities. Most of the customers I spoke to had the Standard plan, and speeds were more than enough, even for those who run their own businesses, work from home, and have multiple people in the household using the internet. 

Starlink doesn’t require a contract, leaving Hughesnet as the only satellite internet provider that requires a two-year commitment. You can end your Starlink service anytime, but you’ll be stuck with $600 worth of hardware. Fortunately, it’s possible to sell and transfer ownership of Starlink kits to others if you’re moving on from the service. Likewise, it’s possible to save money by buying a preowned kit, but like buying any used electronics, there is the risk of it not working correctly.

Starlink
Overall
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8

Starlink's provider rating overall

Most Starlink customers I interviewed switched their internet service from one of the other two satellite internet providers. Even though customers disliked its high entry cost and hands-off approach to customer service, they were happy to switch to the new service and haven’t looked back.

Despite these differences, customers have been satisfied with Starlink overall and say the costs are worth it to no longer have laggy internet and overcomplicated internet packages and pricing. Hughesnet and Viasat can only do so much regarding speed due to their technological differences. Instead, they try to remain competitive by making their services more affordable and improving reliability.

Hughesnet and Viasat are viable alternatives that will save you money when using the internet for fundamental tasks like browsing, communication, and lower-quality streaming. However, Starlink is the preferred provider closest to emulating a traditional broadband service.

How do Starlink's ratings compare to satellite internet competitors?

Category
Viasat
Hughesnet
Starlink
Speed/Latency
3 out of 5 stars
3
3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4
4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9
Reliability
2.7 out of 5 stars
2.7
3 out of 5 stars
3
3 out of 5 stars
3
Data
4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8
2.6 out of 5 stars
2.6
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Value
4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4
4 out of 5 stars
4
2.6 out of 5 stars
2.6

How do Starlink’s price, speed, and data compare to satellite internet rivals?

Provider
Price
Speed
High-speed data
See more
$99.99–$119.99/mo.12–150MbpsUnlimited
$74.99–$119.99/mo.50–100Mbps100—200GB
$120.00–$500.00/mo.20–220Mbps40GB—2TB+

Starlink is, without a doubt, the most expensive satellite internet service. Over two years, customers with the Standard plan will pay at least $3,480, including equipment costs. Customers of Hughesnet and Viasat would pay $1,860 and $2,760, respectively. However, some users have found ways to balance the expenses with Starlink.

For example, users of a service with a data cap would supplement their internet with a satellite TV provider since streaming would quickly use their priority data. With unlimited data from Starlink, they could cancel their satellite TV and stream all they wanted. 

While “unlimited data” rarely means truly unlimited, high-speed internet, Starlink customers told me they haven’t experienced significant slowdowns, even when their monthly usage reaches terabytes of data. Meanwhile, users of Hughesnet and Viasat (when they had data caps) have told me they would sometimes run through their monthly data allotments in a week and be forced to either buy more data or deal with sluggish speeds.

How does Starlink stack up against non-satellite alternatives?

Provider
Price
Data
Download speed
Learn more
$40.00–$50.00/mo.*Unlimited72–245Mbps average
$35.00–$80.00/mo.**UnlimitedUp to 1,000Mbps
$55.00/mo.Unlimited75—225Mbps
$55.00/mo.UnlimitedUp to 100Mbps
$35.00–$80.00/mo.**UnlimitedUp to 50Mbps

*w/ Auto Pay and qualifying mobile plan. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts. See full terms.

**w/ Auto Pay. Available in select areas.

While Starlink is our preferred choice for satellite internet, especially in rural locations, we recommend looking into more affordable satellite alternatives that provide speeds that rival or surpass Starlink. 

T-Mobile and Verizon offer wireless home internet solutions with high speeds and lower latency than satellite for a much better price. They’re just not as widespread as satellite providers. You need to be in the range of a provider’s 5G cell tower and in a spot where you can receive a clear signal. Compare Starlink to 5G providers here.

Another great alternative to satellite—and an economical one to boot—is fixed wireless internet. It’s not as widespread as satellite or even 5G, but if you happen to be in an area with a provider like Rise Broadband, you can get decent internet speeds in a rural area for a competitive price.

Enter your zip code to see all the best Starlink plans available in your area.

What Starlink customers told me about their experience

Jim Olson uses Starlink at his self-sustaining cabin in mountainous Colorado. After using the other two satellite providers (Hughesnet and Viasat), he told me the quality was night and day.

“The second we turned it on, we went from 20Mbps down to about 150Mbps down,” Olson says. “Latency was the biggest surprise. 40ms, which was enough to stream live TV. That was not an option before.”

Jason Astel was previously a Viasat customer in rural Missouri. He told me he was frustrated by the service and jumped on Starlink when he learned of its potential. He was primarily sick of latency issues and data caps that made streaming and gaming nearly impossible.

“With Starlink, I'm able to do everything I need: Online gaming and video conferencing,” Astel said. “We eliminated DirecTV, and we use YouTube TV now. We are much happier with Starlink. We saved money by changing to it.”

Starlink’s unlimited data means he can stream and game as much as he wants and could save money by cutting the cord (in this case, the dish).

Eduardo Dias is a Starlink customer living in Germany. Previously, his best option for internet where he lived was 4G wireless with speeds up to 5Mbps. When he finally got Starlink after being on a waitlist, he was pleasantly surprised.

“Fantastic speeds I got ranged from 150Mbps to 300Mbps,” Dias said. “Rarely had service issues. I was surprised by the latency because from my initial research into satellite internet, it showed it has terrible latency. I get an average of 50 to 70 ping in gaming.”

While it’s been a great experience, Dias mentioned it’s still not perfect.

“The upload speeds I get are around 15Mbps on average, but these days, to send files or stream on Discord for friends, that's really not enough,” he says.

Customer service is not a priority for Starlink

Olson, who is tech-savvy and handy, was concerned about Starlink's lack of customization options. While he was impressed with how quickly he could connect to the internet right out of the box, he was confused by the lack of controls, proprietary cable, and no Ethernet port on his Gen 2 router.

He also thinks customer service needs improvement. Your only option for real help is to submit a support ticket and then wait.

“The customer service is subpar for a modern company,” he says. “If (Starlink) is that good, they shouldn’t be afraid to put up a live chat.”

On the other hand, Christian Bacasa in Utah told me in an interview he doesn’t mind the hands-off approach to support. Installation may be an obstacle to overcome at first, but so far he’s had no problems to warrant contacting customer service.

“I think for anyone who’s fed up with customer service from any provider, Starlink is a good situation for them because of the hands-off approach,” says Bacasa, who’s all too familiar with the frustrating customer service calls with other providers which last 45 minutes and never truly resolve anything.

Image of world map with Starlink availability

Image Courtesy Starlink

Starlink in the News: SpaceX continues building its orbital fleet for ambitious Direct-to-Cell service

According to satellite tracker Johnathan's Space Report, since the beginning of the year, SpaceX has added more than 500 satellites to its constellation, and as of April 2024, there are no signs of slowing down in order to meet Elon Musk’s goal of complete, worldwide coverage. 

According to SpaceX, Starlink advances its satellite technology with optical laser linking, which allows the satellites to better communicate with each other and deliver signals to more remote areas of the world. In 2024, Starlink will construct more ground gateway sites to improve speed and reliability. These stations connect Starlink satellites and customers to the rest of the internet.

As the network continues to be built out, Musk has set his sights on not only the internet through satellite but also directly to your mobile phone. The goal of the Direct-to-Cell network is to have satellites act as overhead cell towers, eliminating dead zones throughout the world. According to SpaceX, it’s in the testing phase but aims to get the text function up and running by the end of 2024, then voice, data, and Internet of Things (IoT) services to come in 2025. 

Need more information?

For more information and facts about Starlink, read our complete FAQ and guide to customer service.

Andreas Rivera
Written by
Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera is a lifelong writer with a decade-spanning career in journalism and marketing. He comes to SatelliteInternet.com with several years of experience writing about business and technology. His passion for researching the latest advancements in tech, especially the now essential need for reliable internet access, fuels his goal of educating others about how these innovations affect and improve our everyday lives. When not researching and writing about SatelliteInternet.com, you’ll likely find him buried in a good book or enjoying the great outdoors with a fishing rod.