When Will Starlink Internet Be Available?


Kristin Cooke
Researcher & Writer
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Published on October 04, 2021

Over 600,000 people have placed orders for Starlink's beta satellite internet service, but reviews are mixed.

What is the Starlink beta?

Starlink satellite internet service is currently undergoing a public beta—which SpaceX calls a “Better than Nothing Beta” as a reminder that service is still in its infancy. The Starlink beta users are told to expect periodic outages until the service is more established. Starlink is expected to exit the beta phase and move to full service availability within the next month.

How well is Starlink performing?

Starlink’s website advertises download speeds between 50–150 Mbps. Third-party analysts confirm that average Starlink download speeds hover around 100 Mbps, which means Starlink is delivering ample speeds for video streaming, gaming, online learning, and working remotely.

The main problems customers experience with Starlink performance are periodic outages—and to be fair, Starlink warned us about service interruptions. Starlink’s service outages are often caused by gaps in the satellite constellation. The Starlink constellation looks like a fish net rotating around the Earth. If "satellite A" passes out of your field of vision before "satellite B" comes into range, you’ll have a service interruption.

As more satellites are launched into orbit and the Starlink satellite constellation is built out over the next few years, satellite internet service will be available continuously (without service interruptions). 

Starlink is also expanding its coverage area by filling out the constellation in additional latitudes. You can try to sign up for Starlink beta by visiting their website and paying a $99 signup fee. You’ll get an email notifying you when service is available in your area, although most people have had to wait six months or more to get service.

At a glance: Starlink internet service

  • Price is $99.00/mo. for unlimited data.
  • One-time equipment cost of $499.00 is required.
  • Starlink has 1,791 satellites in orbit (fully operational).
  • Countries with Starlink service include: US, UK, CA, NZ, AU, DE, AT, FR, DE, CL, MX (planned), IE, BE, and NE.
  • Speeds: 50–150 Mbps

Should I get Starlink now?

It depends on your location. Starlink service isn’t 100% reliable yet. Right now, customers are told to expect periodic outages until the satellite constellation is more fully built out. 

Starlink is faster than most other rural internet options and has great potential, but the service interruptions (blackouts) are frustrating. For people who rely on the internet for work or school, we recommend waiting to get Starlink until it is more reliable.

Where can I get satellite internet now?

If you need satellite internet now, waiting for Starlink to launch another few thousand satellites isn’t an option. Viasat and HughesNet offer satellite internet service nationwide, so you can get connected today. Most Viasat plans give you much more data than HughesNet plans, which will help keep your speeds thrumming along.

Nationwide satellite internet providers

ProviderViasatHughesNetStarlink
Download speeds12–100 Mbps 25 Mbps 50–150 Mbps
Data50–300 GB/mo. 10–50 GB/mo. Unlimited
Price$30–$150/mo.*$59.99–$149.99*$99/mo.
Installation feeFreeFree$499
Get it

*With paperless billing and autopay discount. Data as of 10/4/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

When to sign up for Starlink

Starlink has a mega satellite constellation of over 1,700 satellites thus far, with more launching every month. But there are still thousands of satellites needed in the company’s planned constellation. Because of holes in the constellation, Starlink service is unreliable and inconsistent in many locations. 

Starlink is expected to come out of beta within the next month, according to comments by Elon Musk. There are no details on what that means as far as service improvements, but it does point toward continuing rollout in new locations and (hopefully) fewer outages.

Why does my Starlink service go out a few times an hour?
Info

Starlink has informed beta testers to experience periodic interruptions in connectivity. Why is this happening? It occurs because the Starlink constellation isn't fully built out yet. Satellites speed across the sky every 2 to 3 minutes, and when there’s a gap between satellites, you’ll experience an outage. As more satellites are launched over the next few years, outages are expected to occur less frequently.

Where is Starlink available?

Currently, Starlink is available to customers who live between 45 and 53 degrees latitude.1 As the satellite constellation is built out further, additional regions will be added until it is available globally. You can sign up on the Starlink waiting list if you live in the northern US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or parts of 10 countries in Europe (including the UK).

If you want to find out when Starlink is available in your area, you can visit the Starlink website and request notifications on when Starlink service will roll out in your area.

Can I get Starlink in urban areas?

Starlink isn’t going to be a universal internet solution for everyone, particularly for those living in urban and suburban areas. Due to satellite capacity limitations, Starlink won’t be a good choice for urban areas. With satellite internet, each geographical area has a finite amount of capacity because all internet traffic has to pass through whatever satellites are closest to that particular area. In rural areas, where the population is spread out, a high percentage of the population could use Starlink and not max out the capacity. But in high-density urban areas, even a relatively low percentage of users will quickly overload the Starlink network. 

You can learn more about Starlink’s planned network on our Starlink satellite internet information page.

Starlink satellite launches

Starlink has been launching satellites into orbit since early 2018, with launches expected to continue for years. For the past two years, Starlink has been launching a batch or two of satellites each month. 

Eventually, Starlink plans to have thousands of low-Earth orbit satellites in commission. Starlink’s satellite network resembles a fishnet with the satellites evenly spaced out across the Earth to form a tight-knit weave. As the satellites orbit, they maintain this formation. User terminals on Earth will automatically point and connect to the satellites closest to them.

Here’s a list of all the SpaceX launches that have deployed Starlink satellites thus far.

Date
Mission name
# of satellites
# of total operational satellites

February 22, 2018

Tintin

2 (test)

0

May 24, 2019

v0.9

60 (test)

0 (most deorbited)

November 11, 2019

v1.0

60

60

January 7, 2020

V1.0 L2

60

120

January 29, 2020

V1.0 L3

60

180

February 17, 2020

V1.0 L4

60

240

March 18, 2020

V1.0 L5

60

300

April 22, 2020

V1.0 L6

60

360

June 4, 2020

V1.0 L7

60

420

June 13, 2020

V1.0 L8

58

478

August 7, 2020

V1.0 L9

57

535

August 18, 2020

V1.0 L10

58

593

September 3, 2020

V1.0 L11

60

653

October 6, 2020

V1.0 L12

60

713

October 18, 2020

v1.0 L13

60

773

October 24, 2020

v1.0 L14

60

833

November 24, 2020

v1.0 L15

60

893

January 20, 2021

v1.0 L16

60

953

January 24, 2021

v1.0 Tr-1

10

963

February 4, 2021

v10 L18

60

1023

February 16, 2021

v1.0 L19

60

1143

March 4, 2021

v1.0 L17

60

1203

March 11, 2021

v1.0 L20

60

1263

March 14, 2021

v1.0 L21

60

1323

March 24, 2021

v1.0 L22

60

1383

April 7, 2021

v1.0 L23

60

1443

April 29, 2021

v1.0 L24

60

1503

May 4, 2021

v1.0 L25

60

1563

May 9, 2021

v1.0 L27

60

1625

May 15, 2021

v1.0 L28

52

1677

May 26, 2021

v1.0 L28

60

1737

June 30, 2021

v1.0 Tr-2

3

1740

September 14, 2021

v1.5 L1

51

1791

Data as of 10/4/2021.

Starlink speeds: 50–150 Mbps

During the public beta, Starlink customers have been told to expect download speeds between 50 and 150 Mbps. A recent report from Speedcheck confirmed that North American Starlink customers are getting an average download speed of 50 Mbps with a low latency of 50 to 60 ms.

At 50 Mbps, Starlink satellite internet speeds are faster than other satellite services on the market—plus there is no throttling. So, although Starlink will never be as fast as city internet options like fiber or 5G, Starlink is unusually fast for people living in rural areas. Starlink’s average download speed of 50 Mbps is fast enough for a household to stream video in HD on multiple screens, which surpasses most internet service in rural areas. 

Starlink’s speed is even more impressive when combined with the perk of having unlimited data. Data caps cause significant slowing for satellite customers, since most run out of data before the end of the month and their speeds get throttled. There's no definite word on whether Starlink will continue to offer unlimited data after the beta ends, but for now, it's a great perk.

Low Latency

On the Starlink website, customers are told that in most locations, they can expect latency between 20 ms to 40 ms during the initial beta service. Recent Starlink speed tests during the beta have shown an average latency between 50–60 ms, which falls a bit short of expectations but still exceeds performance of most satellite internet services (which average 594–624 ms).

Latency measures the delay or lag you experience when requesting or sending data, and notoriously high latency rates on most forms of satellite internet usually keeps people from gaming. The average satellite internet latency is between 594 milliseconds to 624 milliseconds, so Starlink's low latency rate will be a boon for rural customers.

Light Bulb

“Starlink will be among the fastest options available to transfer data around the world.” 

Kate Tice, SpaceX Senior Program Reliability Engineer

At least some of the satellites have the capability to share data with each other via inter-satellite laser links. These lasers allow satellites to communicate with each other to increase data speeds and decrease reliance on ground stations (which are costly and limited by geography and international politics). Two Starlink satellites successfully first used this feature in September 2020. In September 2021, Starlink deployed the first full batch of these “space laser” enabled satellites, called version 1.5. As more Starlink satellites begin using “space lasers” to transfer data with each other, speeds and latency are expected to continue to improve.

How does Starlink compare to Viasat and HughesNet?

Starlink download speeds reportedly range from 50–150 Mbps, which puts it in the same general category as Viasat’s 100 Mbps plan (Platinum Unlimited 100). HughesNet tops out at 25 Mbps, which is fast enough for activities like streaming but it may be noticeably slower than Starlink or Viasat. Some satellite providers do have high latency, which is another layer of speed you might not think about. Starlink also has unlimited data, a first for satellite plans, although there is no word on whether this feature will continue after the beta test.

High latency (or lag) means you’ll have a noticeable delay between the time you request information on the internet (such as clicking on a link to request viewing a web page) and the moment that it displays on your computer. This delay is caused by several factors, including the time it takes for your request to travel to servers and satellites orbiting the Earth, and then back to you.

Starlink can offer lower latency than Viasat and HughesNet due to the satellite design and location. Starlink’s satellites are much closer to the Earth than satellite systems used by Viasat or HughesNet. Starlink satellites orbit 550 kilometres (340 miles) from the Earth’s surface, while Viasat and HughesNet satellites are approximately 35,405 kilometres (22,000 miles) away from Earth.

Thanks to their closer proximity, Starlink satellites will deliver broadband internet with lower latency than other satellite providers—simply because data just won’t have to travel as far. Starlink’s lower latency will be helpful in everyday internet usage as well as in online gaming, video conferencing, and other tasks that are done in real time.

Comparing satellite internet providers

Provider
Download speeds
Latency
Data cap
Price
Get it
Starlink

Starlink

50 to 150 Mbps

40 ms

Unlimited

$99.00/mo.

Viasat

Viasat

Up to 100 Mbps

594–624 ms

50–300 GB/mo.

$30.00–$150.00/mo.*

HughesNet

HughesNet

Up to 25 Mbps

594–624 ms

10–50 GB/mo.

$59.99–$150.00/mo.*

*With paperless billing and autopay discount. Data as of 10/4/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Final take: Starlink is interesting—but don’t hold your breath

Starlink has a lot of publicity, but it might not be a good solution for everyday Americans for several years. The initial sign up cost of $499 is cost prohibitive for many people, making companies like Viasat or HughesNet (who offer free signup) look more affordable. Plus, it may take a few years before the Starlink constellation is fully built out and available nationwide.

In the meantime, you can find the best internet options for rural areas today in our full review, which includes satellite internet from HughesNet and Viasat and LTE home internet solutions.

Looking ahead, you can expect to see developments from many companies. Viasat is building out a new satellite system—called the ViaSat-3—which is expected to launch later this year. This new satellite system will bring higher volume, more data, and faster speeds to a satellite network that’s been in place for nearly 20 years.

FAQ about Starlink availability

When will Starlink be available?

Starlink satellite internet is currently undergoing beta testing in parts of the US and Canada to people who live between 44 and 53 degrees latitude. A full launch date of the service has not been announced yet.

Where can I get Starlink internet?

Starlink satellite internet is currently undergoing beta testing in parts of the US, Canada, and 12 other countries, primarily to people who live between 44 and 53 degrees latitude. A full launch date of the service has not been announced yet.

How fast is Starlink internet?

Starlink advertises the beta service as having speeds between 50 Mbps and 150 Mbps. So, Starlink speeds are somewhat faster than satellite internet provider HughesNet but about the same as Viasat. If you need satellite service now, you can find out which internet plans are available in your area by entering your zip code below.

Is Starlink reliable enough to work remotely?

In some areas, Starlink is reliable enough to work remotely, while in other places the service is intermittent. Jobs with minimal connectivity needs will be easier to perform on satellite service than a job as, say, a customer service chat agent who needs to be online every second of the workday.

Starlink service will improve within the next year or two as more satellites are launched. But the satellite constellation is still in its infancy and service will blink out for a few minutes here and there throughout the day. So, if you’re wondering if now is the time to ditch your current provider and sign up for Starlink, we recommend holding back a few more months until Starlink service is more reliable.

Can I use Starlink satellite service on the road in an RV?

No, for now, Starlink can’t be taken with you while traveling. But mobile Starlink service is coming, according to Elon Musk.2 The company is developing a portable antenna for large trucks and RVs. Musk says that mobile service will be available by the end of 2021.3 For now, Starlink satellite internet service is tied to your location, so you can’t take it with you in an RV, on a boat, or to a remote worksite.

Will I be able to get phone service from Starlink?

Yes, in the future, Starlink is planning to offer a VoIP phone service plan, but Starlink phone service is not available yet. Starlink will also offer emergency services.4

Can’t wait for Starlink? Check internet providers near you.
  1. Etherington, Darrell, TechCrunch, “Elon Musk Says Starlink Internet Private Beta to Begin in Roughly Three Months, Public Beta in Six,” April 2020. Accessed September 2, 2020.
  2. Sheets, Michael, CNBC, “Elon Musk Wants to Connect RVs and Trucks to the Internet through SpaceX’s Starlink Satellites,” March 2021. Accessed March 29, 2021.
  3. Maring, Joseph, “Musk's Starlink Can Be Strapped to a Truck or RV, But Not Yet,” April 2021.  Accessed May 14, 2021.
  4. Brodkin, Jon, “SpaceX Plans Starlink Phone Service, Emergency Backup, and Low-Income Access,” February 2021. Accessed May 14, 2021.

Sources

Kristin Cooke
Written by
Kristin Cooke
After graduating with a degree in English from the University of Utah, Kristin learned to geek speak while working as a technical recruiter, interviewing software developers and tech companies. For over 20 years, she has created award-winning content for technology, health, and finance companies. Kristin is an advocate for affordable internet for all and writes about rural internet solutions, satellite internet news, and tech products at SatelliteInternet.com. Her work has been featured in New York Post, PCMag, Forbes, Business Insider, Telecompetitor, Space.com, and The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.