Project Kuiper vs. Starlink

Project Kuiper
  • pro
    Slated for a late-2024 launch
  • pro
    Projected 25–400Mbps
Starlink
  • pro
    $120.00–$5,000.00/mo.
  • pro
    20–220Mbps
  • pro
    Unlimited data

Dave Schafer
Jan 19, 2024
bullet8 min read

Starlink is definitely the highest-profile (and possibly highest-performing) satellite internet provider currently available. But there aren’t many satellite providers to begin with, so the market remains expensive and speeds relatively slow. That’s why we’re excited to see a fourth competitor enter the fray: Project Kuiper.

Project Kuiper is Amazon’s satellite internet service, which it plans to make available to initial customers sometime in late 2024. The service is looking really promising so far, with some impressive satellite and antenna technology and a focus on sustainability and global access.

In this article, we’ll compare what we know about Project Kuiper with Starlink and see how the two stack up.

Since Project Kuiper is not yet available, we won’t recommend a winner in each section—at least for now. Once the service rolls out and we can see real performance metrics, we’ll be able to offer more concrete advice.

Project Kuiper vs. Starlink availability

Project KuiperStarlink
● Plans to offer service in many countries
● Has approval from the FCC to operate in the U.S.
● Nationwide availability
● Portable service options
● Global service options

Project Kuiper availability

Since it’s not currently available, we can only really speculate about Project Kuiper’s availability. The service has FCC authorization to operate in the U.S., and we’d expect nationwide availability, in keeping with other satellite providers.

The project also seems to have a very global attitude, with the aim of helping bridge digital divides and bring service to underserved areas. Project Kuiper has expressly stated it intends to operate in “many countries around the globe.”

Lastly, the presence of a small, seemingly tabletop dish in its lineup makes us think that Kuiper will likely offer some sort of portable internet option to match Starlink Mobile. So, all that said, availability is looking strong.

Starlink availability

Starlink offers nationwide availability—and it’s finally actually nationwide. For a long time, a large swath of the U.S. was waitlisted, and it was hard to really call it “nationwide.” At this point, though, the waitlists appear to be gone.

Starlink also offers portable service in the form of Starlink Mobile (Roam) and also global service with some (expensive) service plans. Overall, we don’t think coverage will be an issue for most Starlink customers.

Project Kuiper vs. Starlink reliability

Project KuiperStarlink
● Too early to tell● Wide variance in speed and latency from location to location

Project Kuiper reliability

It’s hard to say much about Project Kuiper’s reliability at this stage. However, we can speculate a little—and we will. The planned low-earth orbit (LEO) constellation of 3,200+ satellites, combined with some of the new technologies Amazon is developing, make us optimistic about both performance and reliability.

The optical inter-satellite link (OISL) is the main tech that may increase reliability and signal stability. This is essentially an infrared laser that transmits data between satellites at very high speeds (100Gbps!, which is really fast for satellites), letting each satellite in the constellation communicate with each other. Amazon’s intention with the Project Kuiper satellites is to use this tech to basically turn the whole constellation into a mesh network. This will enable it to more efficiently route signals to the most optimal satellites and ideally enhance performance.

Starlink reliability

Starlink’s service is about as reliable as a satellite service can be. (They all suffer from some weather and environmental interference.) However, the provider does fall a bit short on consistency. What we’ve found via our own testing is that Starlink’s speeds and latency both vary quite a bit from one state to another. We’re not entirely sure the reason for this, but it’s worth mentioning.

We also can’t forget that Starlink is a SpaceX service, which means Elon Musk is involved. Given his high-profile personal drama and occasional erratic behavior, we’d be a little leary of relying on Starlink for mission-critical applications.

Project Kuiper vs. Starlink prices and plans

Project KuiperStarlink
● Pricing and plans unknown
● Satellite dish can handle up to 400Mbps
● $120.00/mo.
● Up to 100Mbps
● Unlimited data
● $599.00 one-time equipment charge

Project Kuiper prices and plans

We have no indication of Project Kuiper’s pricing or package structure at this time, nor do we know how fast its internet service will be. What we do know is that there will be three tiers of satellite dish:

  • The standard residential dish, capable of handling up to 400Mbps.
  • A smaller, portable dish capable of up to 100Mbps.
  • A larger, more powerful enterprise dish that can handle up to 1,000Mbps.

The fact that Amazon has designed dishes with these speeds in mind makes us optimistic about the speed the service will offer—the 400Mbps residential option is particularly enticing (and a lot faster than what Starlink is currently capable of).

We also expect the plans to be priced competitively. Amazon’s devices and services are usually big on value for money, and the stated intent of helping bridge digital divides implies to us that there’ll be a focus on keeping costs down.

Starlink prices and plans

Starlink’s Standard (Residential) plan is a bit pricey at $120 per month (plus $599 for equipment), but it’s actually not a bad value considering what you get: speeds up to 100Mbps and truly unlimited data (something no other satellite provider currently offers). To get anywhere near this level of service from other providers, you’d have to spend a lot more.

Starlink is also currently the only satellite provider offering mobile and on-the-go internet to general consumers. Starlink Mobile (also known as Starlink Roam) is a bit more expensive (it starts at $150 per month), but being able to take your internet with you on the road is powerful.

Project Kuiper vs. Starlink data

Project KuiperStarlink
● Unknown at this time● Unlimited high-speed data

Project Kuiper data

There’s been no real indication of what sort of data limits Project Kuiper will have. Most satellite providers, like HughesNet and Viasat, offer a limited amount of high-speed data and then unlimited data at throttled speeds once that’s used up.

However, we think Kuiper will mainly be competing with Starlink, which now offers truly unlimited high-speed data. With that in mind, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon do the same.

Starlink data

Starlink is the only satellite internet provider we’re currently aware of that offers truly unlimited data. Provided you aren’t using an obscene amount, you’ll never see your speeds throttled due to data use. This is something we really appreciate about Starlink.

Starlink’s Priority plans do have limits on the higher-speed data. However, when that’s gone, you drop back to the normal Starlink speed (up to 100Mbps), rather than being throttled down to an unusably slow speed.

Project Kuiper vs. Starlink equipment

Project KuiperStarlink
● Three dish options
● Cost unknown
● Three dish options
● $599.00–$2,500.00 one-time payment

Project Kuiper equipment

Obviously, details are still a little limited, since Project Kuiper hasn’t launched to the public yet. However, Amazon did share its satellite dish designs (it calls them “customer terminals”), so while we don’t know the cost yet, we can at least get an idea of how they look and what features will be available.

There are three terminals in the lineup:

  • A standard terminal: This is designed for residential customers and small businesses. It’s capable of delivering speeds up to 400Mbps and only measures about 11 inches across. This seems like it will be the basic option that most customers will likely end up with.
  • A compact terminal: This one is only seven inches across and will be the most affordable option, according to the company. It weighs just one pound and supports up to 100Mbps.
  • A high-bandwidth terminal: This option is larger (19 x 30 inches) and more powerful, delivering speeds up to 1,000Mbps. It’s intended for enterprise, government, and telecom use.

These are all custom designs for Project Kuiper—even the chips that power them. We’re definitely excited to see how things play out once these are available to customers later this year.

Starlink equipment

Starlink also offers three different dish options, depending on the service plan you get:

  • Standard: The standard dish that comes with the Standard service plan (Residential). This is the dish most users will have. It’s also the default option for Starlink Mobile plans. It costs $599.
  • High Performance: This dish is used for the Priority plans. It’s a larger, more powerful option to support the faster speeds of these service packages. It costs $2,500.
  • Flat High Performance: The same as High Performance, but flat (shock!). This dish basically lacks the stand, so it can keep a low profile while mounted to the roof of a vehicle. This dish is used with the Mobile Priority plans for in-motion connectivity. It costs $2,500.

Starlink’s gear works well enough, and the setup process using the mobile app is a breeze, as well.

Project Kuiper vs. Starlink installation

Project KuiperStarlink
● Unknown● No installation fee
● Self-install only

Project Kuiper installation

Naturally, we have no idea what the Project Kuiper installation process will look like or how much it might cost. However, we would imagine that Amazon will be going right after Starlink, which has set a pretty low bar.

Starlink installation

Starlink only offers a self-install option. The company ships your equipment in a nice package, and you set it up yourself using the Starlink mobile app. It’s pretty straightforward, provided you don’t need to mount the dish on your roof or anything like that. That said, some people would definitely prefer a more hands-off approach.

If that’s you, you can go for a third-party installation. Basically, a variety of companies have sprung up to offer Starlink installation services. These companies aren’t affiliated with Starlink at all, so quality is absolutely not guaranteed. They also tend to be pretty expensive—roughly $500 in this author’s area. Still, it’s an option.

Project Kuiper vs. Starlink customer service

Project KuiperStarlink
● Unknown● App-based support tickets
● Website support tickets
● Email support
● FAQs

Project Kuiper customer service

Customer service is another big unknown for Project Kuiper. That said, Amazon generally does pretty well in this space—this writer can’t really think of any bad interaction with Amazon support.

Additionally, as we’ll get into in a moment, customer service is perhaps Starlink’s weakest point. If Amazon is coming for Elon’s piece of the satellite internet pie, this would be a fantastic area to differentiate in. In other words, we’re hopeful.

Starlink customer service

As mentioned above, this is probably the low point of Starlink’s service. The customer service is notoriously bad—there relatively few options, and they’re really hard to find. Even worse, it’s surprisingly common to hear stories about people just not receiving a response.

As for what options are available—there are no phone or chat options, period, which is a bummer. Your only real option is to open a support ticket through either the website or mobile app. There are the usual FAQs and support materials, but if you need more help, that’s what you’ve got.

Project Kuiper vs. Starlink customer reviews

Obviously, there are no customer reviews for Project Kuiper yet. As for Starlink, customers tend to really appreciate the performance—especially rural customers, some of whom may have never had fast internet access before. However, the waitlists and iffy customer service have left a bad taste in some users’ mouths, so there’s plenty of room for improvement (or for Amazon to sweep in and steal the show).

Project Kuiper vs. Starlink: Can Amazon’s internet service compete with Starlink?

Overall, Project Kuiper is looking really promising. We’re super excited to see how things unfold over the next year or two. It’ll also be nice for Starlink to have a more evenly-matched opponent—competition is always good. Although it’s fast, it has some definite flaws—it’ll be great to see if Project Kuiper can light a fire that inspires Starlink to deal with some of them.

Methodology

At SatelliteInternet.com, we base our analyses on thorough research, including customer interviews, first-hand testing, results from our speed test tool, and proprietary internet provider data on speeds and pricing. We also dive deep to get all the details on plans, fees, and future developments. We then bring this info together in one place so you can find it easily. Finally, we use our satellite internet industry expertise to help you make the best decisions you can for your household. As always, thanks for reading!

Project Kuiper vs. Starlink FAQ

Who owns Project Kuiper?

Project Kuiper is a part of Amazon. Yes, the same Amazon that sends your packages. The company has big ambitions for the satellite internet space, and we’re excited to see what it can do!

When will Project Kuiper be available?

Currently, it looks like initial availability will be sometime in late 2024. This is subject to change, of course, and depends on whether there are any hiccups in getting satellites into orbit. However, the company does have deadlines built into its FCC agreement: half of the satellite constellation needs to be operational by 2026.

Is Starlink internet good?

Yes, Starlink is, overall, a great internet service. It’s got fast speeds (for satellite), unlimited data, and it’s available all over the U.S. The main complaints we see about Starlink are around customer service (or lack thereof), so you’ll have to weigh how important that is to you before signing up. It’s also a little pricey.

Does Starlink have unlimited data?

Yes, Starlink offers unlimited high-speed data. That’s actually very rare in the satellite internet world, so we’re excited to see it!

Dave Schafer
Written by
Dave Schafer
Dave has written professionally for tech companies and consumer technology sites for nearly five years, with a special focus on TV and internet. He uses his industry expertise to help readers at HighSpeedInternet.com get the most out of their services. No matter the project, he prefers his coffee black (the stronger, the better).