SpaceX Starlink Satellite Internet Review 2021

SpaceX’s Starlink internet might not meet expectations for some, but it’s still a promising rural internet option.
The logo for SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet
Estimated launch:
Beta testing in progress
Price:
$99/mo.
Equipment cost:
$499
Download speed:
50–150 Mbps
Recent Updates: 4 days ago
We’ve updated our Starlink review with the most current numbers on download speed, data caps, and more. And hopefully we’ll be able to get our hands on Starlink for some at-home testing soon. (We feel like we’re the only ones waiting for our address to win that lottery.)
Less than 6 months
Starlink is taking preorders for its service. Find out more about how to preorder Starlink, plus how much it costs.
More than 6 months
In a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA), a Starlink representative noted that the satellite internet company plans to open its beta test program to more people in January 2021.1 So if you haven't got a beta invite yet, keep an eye out for that box full of Starlink goodies. And if you haven't signed up yet, now's the time to put your your email and home address into the pool.
More than 6 months
Thanks to some Reddit users, we finally got some deets about Starlink's beta test. Read on to learn more about the beta, how much Starlink will cost, plus what kind of download speeds we should see when Starlink finally goes live.
More than a year
Great news, everyone! Starlink is now letting you sign up to be a satellite internet beta tester.
More than a year
Here's some great news: Starlink is sending two lucky humans into space. This checks the box for a lot of firsts: the first manned space flight on a private vehicle, the first manned space flight for SpaceX, and the first time in almost a decade that a manned space flight launches from US soil. (The last time was July 8, 2011.)

You can watch live as Crew Dragon flies toward the International Space Station after launching into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center. After some poor weather conditions rained on our parade, the SpaceX launch is now scheduled for Saturday, May 30 at 3:22 p.m. EDT. Here's how to watch it:

Watch the SpaceX Live Launch
More than a year
Here's some great news: Starlink is sending two lucky humans into space. This checks the box for a lot of firsts: the first manned space flight on a private vehicle, the first manned space flight for SpaceX, and the first time in almost a decade that a manned space flight launches from US soil. (The last time was July 8, 2011.)

You can watch live as Crew Dragon flies toward the International Space Station after launching into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center. The SpaceX launch is scheduled for 4:33 p.m. EST on May 27, 2020. Here's how to watch it:

Watch the SpaceX Live Launch
More than a year
We couldn't wait to share this great news: SpaceX launched 60 more Starlink satellites on March 18, 2020, putting its total number of satellites in orbit at 302.12

Starlink satellite internet service is still in beta, and while initial test results were outstanding, some users now report slower speeds and higher latency than what was promised.

But as SpaceX continues to launch satellites to expand and support its blossoming satellite service, there’s potential for improvement. So we think Starlink is still worth keeping an eye on, especially if your internet service options are limited.

While we all wait for Starlink service to reach our neighborhood, let’s dig into what we know about Starlink satellite internet so far.

Need satellite internet now?
ProviderBest forPriceDownload speedDetails
ViasatFastest satellite internet speeds$30.00–$150.00/mo.*12–100 MbpsView Plans
HughesNetBudget-friendly low-end plans$59.99–$149.99/mo.**25 MbpsView Plans

Data effective 7/6/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 3 months.
**Requires 24-month agreement.

Find out what internet providers are available in your area.

Pros

  • Potentially fast download speeds up to 150 Mbps
  • Unlimited data (for now)
  • Decent price for what you get
  • Lower latency than traditional satellite internet

Cons

  • Steep equipment cost
  • Limited availability (for now)
  • Speeds and latency that are potentially worse than other internet options

Is Starlink in trouble?

Our Reviews.org YouTube internet expert, Juan, chats about the future of Starlink. Will this new satellite internet company survive, and will the high up-front costs ever go down? Check out Juan’s take below.

How to sign up for the Starlink beta

You can put down a $99 deposit even if Starlink isn’t available to you yet

The Starlink beta test is currently active, and if service isn’t available at your home address yet, you can put down a $99 deposit to be first in line when it arrives.

While we’re not normally fans of preorders or putting money down on something we can’t yet get, the $99 deposit is refundable. And, if you decide to get the service, your $99 goes toward your equipment purchase price of $499. So this preorder seems fairly risk free.

Even so, keep in mind that your deposit doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get Starlink internet any time soon—or at all. And orders are first-come, first-served, so you might still have to wait even when Starlink satellites swarm your neighborhood skies.

Starlink prices

Starlink’s $99 monthly cost is a great deal for the speed and data you currently get

Starlink prices are pretty straightforward: pay a monthly price of $99 plus a $499 one-time fee for your equipment kit, and you’re golden. All Starlink customers get the same deal: advertised speeds of 50–150 Mbps and unlimited data.

There are no different plans to choose from, and no need to decide if paying more is worth a bump up in speed or data.

SpaceX Starlink satellite internet price
PlanPriceDownload speedData cap
Starlink$99/mo.50–150 MbpsUnlimited

And, from what we can tell, that isn’t a promotional price either. That’s not to say that Elon Musk won’t decide to up the price later on, but it’s good to know you won’t automatically pay more after a certain amount of time.

Megaphone icon
Starlink’s unlimited data isn’t set in stone
Unlimited data is a dream come true for satellite internet users, but don’t get too excited yet. The Starlink site states that “at this time there are no data caps under the Starlink Beta program.”

So keep your eyes peeled for any changes to Starlink’s data policy in the future.

How do Starlink prices compare to Viasat and HughesNet?

Starlink satellite internet costs $99 a month for download speeds of 50–150 Mbps. To compare, a satellite internet plan from Viasat ranges from $30 to $150 a month for download speeds of 12 Mbps up to 100 Mbps, and HughesNet plans range from about $60 to $150 a month for download speeds of 25 Mbps.

Does Starlink cost more than Viasat and HughesNet?
ProviderPriceDownload speedData cap
Starlink$99.00/mo.50–150 MbpsUnlimited
Viasat$30.00–$150.00/mo.*12–100 Mbps12–300 GB
HughesNet$59.99–$149.99/mo.**25 Mbps10–50 GB

Data effective 7/6/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 3 months.
**Requires 24-month agreement.

But while Starlink’s monthly cost is more than reasonable, especially when compared to the top-end prices for Viasat and HughesNet, its $499 equipment cost may put it just out of reach for some.

For now, Starlink doesn’t currently offer an equipment rental option, while both Viasat and HughesNet do.

Satellite internet equipment costs comparison
ProviderEquipment purchase priceEquipment rental feeEquipment lease setup fee
Starlink$499.00N/AN/A
Viasat$299.99 (lifetime lease)$12.99/mo.$99.00
HughesNet$449.98$14.99/mo.$99.00

Data effective 7/6/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Where is the Starlink beta available?

Starlink’s beta testing program is mainly available to people living between the 33.6° and 54.9° latitudes in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and a handful of countries in Europe.1

Those latitudes cover most of the US, and we found that the majority of beta testers are located in northern states like Washington, Wisconsin, and Michigan. But there are some more southern states, like Missouri, that are also home to a few lucky people who got into the Starlink beta test.

A map showing Starlink satellite internet service availability in the majority of the US

Beta test availability data as of July 6, 2021 on Reddit

Note that this map is based on self-reporting beta testers, so the data may be skewed. But Starlink availability can only get better as the beta test continues on.

Starlink internet speed and data

Actual Starlink speeds hit a median range of 40 to 93 Mbps in early 2021

Starlink advertises download speeds of 50 to 150 Mbps for its beta users, but actual speeds might be more hit or miss.

In a recent report, speed test company Ookla reported that Starlink median download speeds ranged from a low of 40 Mbps to a high of 93 Mbps during the first quarter of 2021.2

Starlink download speeds, upload speeds, and latency
MeasurementAdvertised rangeActual range
Download speed50–150 Mbps40–94 Mbps (median)
Upload speedN/A16 Mbps (average)3
Latency20–40 ms31–88 ms (median)

Data effective 07/06/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

That’s on top of another unfulfilled Starlink beta promise of 20 to 40 millisecond (ms) latency. The same Ookla report noted that median latency ranged from 31 to 88 ms—oftentimes much higher than alternative internet providers in the same area.2

Still, even with a median high of 88 ms, that puts Starlink’s latency far below the normal latency range of other satellite internet providers. An average latency for Viasat or HughesNet sits between 500 to 600 ms.

  • Starlink latency: 31–88 ms
  • Viasat and HughesNet latency: 500–600 ms

Learn more about how Starlink’s satellites create lower latency

These speed results make Starlink a possibly worse choice compared to DSL, cable, and fiber internet. But if your only rural internet option is another satellite provider or fixed wireless, Starlink is swooping in for the save.

And keep in mind that we’re still in beta. Starlink is still in the process of deploying satellites and ground stations while working out the kinks. As more satellites reach Earth’s orbit and more ground stations are built, Starlink users will likely see improved download speeds and lower latency.

A Reddit member asked a Starlink representative whether Starlink internet users would see slower speeds once more users sign up. The representative said the service will not get overcrowded, and said that the network will get “increasingly great, not increasingly worse” as more satellites are launched.4

Data caps

The Starlink beta FAQ explicitly states that Starlink internet comes with no data caps “at this time.”

  • Starlink beta test data cap: Unlimited

Data caps are a huge deal with satellite internet because they’re often much smaller than you’d find with traditional ISPs—Viasat currently offers the most monthly data of 300 GB.

That means you need to watch your data usage like a hawk with traditional satellite internet providers—but not with Starlink. Of course, the “at this time” in the FAQ makes us wonder if unlimited Starlink data will eventually go away.

Starlink contracts, equipment, and fees

No contracts, but your Starlink equipment costs half a grand

Starlink satellite internet service doesn’t require a contract—a major step up from the other satellite internet providers. (Though, to be fair, both Viasat and HughesNet offer a no-contract plan, but it costs quite a bit extra.)

You can even cancel your service and return your equipment within 30 days for a full refund of your equipment fee. You can also get your $99 deposit refunded if you sign up for Starlink beta and cancel before service reaches your area.

We’re glad a full equipment refund is offered, because Starlink’s dish and router don’t come cheap.

Starlink customer equipment

Your Starlink equipment kit comes with a satellite dish and router that costs $499 plus shipping and handling. Our preorder cost breakdown showed a $50 shipping and handling fee, which isn’t awful, but that puts Starlink’s total equipment cost above the $500 mark.

  • Starlink satellite dish and router cost: $499 plus shipping and handling

In a recent Q&A session, Musk noted that the dish costs more than $1,000 to make. This high cost has spurred Starlink to get to work on a new terminal that costs less but provides the same level of performance.5 That could mean a price drop for Starlink customers in the future, and Musk mentioned the company would like to drop the price for $300 or $250 if possible.

Musk described the satellite dish as a “UFO on a stick,” and noted that the dish has built-in motors that allow it to position itself at the best angle for your location.

Best of all, the dish can be self-installed using the Starlink app. While Viasat and HughesNet require a professional to come and install your dish, you’re able to take a  plug-and-play approach with the Starlink dish.

Starlink On the App Store | Starlink On Google Play

Heads Up icon
The Starlink dish works best in 22° below up to 104°F
Starlink’s satellite dish heats itself up when it gets cold so that snow melts off. But its performance in high heat has seen some Starlink beta hopefuls’ dreams melt away.

A beta tester in Arizona lost internet service when his dish overheated in the 120° weather, and another user in Virginia saw their dish overheat in 80-degree weather.6

Starlink satellites and ground terminals

It wouldn’t be satellite internet without satellites, and Starlink has a ton of them. Each satellite is about as big as your office desk and weighs close to 500 pounds—that means the January 2020 Falcon 9 mission carried 30,000 pounds of satellites into space.

Sixty Starlink satellites inside a Falcon 9 rocket's nose cone

60 Starlink satellites are flat-packed into a Falcon 9 nose cone.
Source: Elon Musk/Twitter

Starlink’s goal is to build a megaconstellation of 42,000 satellites to power its internet service across the world. Compared to Viasat and HughesNet, which rely on a few large satellites to create an internet network, Starlink relies on a web of thousands of smaller satellites that surround the Earth.

An image of a globe focused on the northern hemisphere and North America shows where Starlink satellites are in orbit

Current locations of Starlink satellites in Earth’s orbit as of July 6, 2021.
Source: SatelliteMap.space

Light Bulb icon
Spot and track Starlink
Starlink may be harder to spot in the night sky now thanks to its dimmed lights, but you can use an online app called Find Starlink to track satellites across the globe and near your location.

Along with a massive convoy of satellites, Starlink service relies on ground terminals.

SpaceX originally filed a request with the FCC for 1 million Earth stations, or ground terminals. But thanks to the massive number of beta test applicants, the company amended its request to ask the FCC for permission to build 5 million Earth stations.

A row of about seven Starlink ground terminals, each one is a white sphere with a skirt on the bottom and sits on a concrete pad

These ground terminals feature white, spherical antenna radomes, which protect the sensitive equipment inside. Current and future sites of Starlink Earth stations include:

  • Hawthorne, California
  • Limestone, Maine
  • Conrad, Montana
  • Panaca, Nevada
  • Beekmantown, New York
  • Greenville, Pennsylvania
  • Kalama, Washington
  • North Bend, Washington
  • Redmond, Washington
  • Merrillan, Wisconsin
  • Evanston, Wyoming

Starlink customer service

Starlink’s customer service is a mixed bag, and your main support contact is in the app

Starlink’s customer service seems to be fairly self-serve. Many users on Reddit noted that you can’t even get a hold of anyone at Starlink until you become a customer, which makes asking questions beforehand difficult.

In fact, the only option for getting a hold of Starlink support is on the Starlink app. (Android | iOS) Even after scouring the web, we couldn’t find a dedicated Starlink support phone number or email.

A 2021 article on Business Insider may give us the best indication of how good or bad Starlink customer service is doing so far. And to be honest, it seems like current Starlink beta testers are getting a mixed bag when it comes to customer service.

Some customers got quick responses, but others had to wait days or even a week to hear back.

Many customers inquired about moving their dish to a new address other than the one they signed up with. And for reference, it seems like you can as long as you reapply for service at the new address.

Another common complaint is that the included power cable is only 100 feet long. And, as Tom’s Guide’s John R. Quain noted, the cable is attached to the dish, so you can’t simply replace it.7

And don’t forget about service dropouts, which plague most every Starlink customer. Of course, the service is still in beta, so service dropouts are annoying but inevitable as SpaceX gets its satellites in order.

Pin icon
Need to recover your Starlink account?
If you forgot your Starlink account info, you can now request a password reset by using your account email, phone number, or alternate email address.

Recap: Will Starlink satellite internet be any good?

Starlink is an up-and-coming satellite internet provider that has a lot of great potential. While it’s still dealing with beta testing quirks like an expensive set of equipment, service dropouts, and limited availability, it could become an excellent rural internet option in the future.

  • Prices and plans: At $99 a month plus a $499 equipment fee, Starlink could be a tad expensive for some. But compared to other satellite internet providers, it offers great value for the price you pay.
  • Speed: Starlink’s download speeds are still in question, but the beta test advertises 50–150 Mbps with the potential for improved speeds once the service goes fully live.
  • Data caps: The Starlink beta test currently gives customers unlimited data, which is leaps and bounds beyond the next highest satellite internet data cap of 300 GB.
  • Contracts, equipment, and fees: Starlink comes with no contract, but its $499 equipment fee is fairly steep. We hope to see a reduced cost for the dish and router in the future—or at least an option to rent.
  • Customer service: Customers have said that Starlink customer service is hit or miss: Sometimes you’ll get an immediate response, other times you’ll wait a week for a reply.

Starlink satellite internet price recap

  • Starlink: $99 a month, 50–150 Mbps download speeds, unlimited data

Data effective 07/06/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Info Box icon
Can’t wait for Starlink service?
Check out some other rural internet options or compare two more satellite internet providers in our Viasat vs. HughesNet guide.

See all the internet options available in your area.

Starlink review methodology

To take a deep dive into Starlink’s beta testing, we took a look at reports from beta testers on the following features:

  1. Internet speed performance
  2. Customer service reports
  3. Equipment quality and issues

We also took a look at the official Starlink sign-up site and subreddit to learn more about where the beta test is currently available, how you can sign up, how much the service costs, and more.

While we’d love to get hands-on with Starlink and test it ourselves, we felt that these reports gave us a fairly accurate and in-depth look while we wait for service at our home address.

What do Americans think about switching to Starlink?

Many people are stuck with painfully slow speeds from local satellite, DSL, or cable internet providers. So what does the nation think about signing up for the Starlink beta—even if it costs more? We surveyed Americans to find out what they think about Elon Musk’s satellite venture.

Starlink survey and speeds compared to broadband.

Over half of Americans say they’ll try Starlink if given the chance

Starlink internet is perfect for those who feel stuck with slow speeds from their internet provider—especially in rural areas where building out cable and fiber networks either takes a long time or is less likely to provide adequate coverage.

By offering nationwide satellite internet service with high speeds and low latency, Starlink may even pull more customers from other top internet providers.

Infographic showing sentiment toward Starlink internet.
  • 51% of internet users say they plan to sign up for the Starlink beta once it becomes available to them.
  • While only 5% of Americans currently use a satellite internet connection, 64% of survey respondents say Starlink’s rollout would make them reconsider their satellite internet stance.
  • 55% of non-satellite internet users say they’d switch to Starlink’s satellite internet service at a higher cost if it resulted in faster internet speeds for their household.

What are the most important factors in deciding whether to make the switch to satellite internet?

Common activities like browsing the internet, social media, and checking email don’t require blazing fast speeds, but other internet services may require more bandwidth than DSL, satellite, or other providers offer. And the more programs you have running, especially when they’re media or video-based, the faster internet speeds you’ll need to cover all your bases.

Top priorities for Starlink internet users.

Here’s what Americans want Starlink’s faster internet speeds to cover:

  • 3 out of every 4 (74%) internet users want to stream high-quality video on platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu.
  • 72% want to have high-quality video calls on platforms such as Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime.
  • Over half (56%) want to play online video games with high performance.

With higher internet speeds and less latency than other providers, people are willing to dig into their wallets a bit more every month for Starlink if it means they can do what they want on the internet.

Switching to Starlink—people are willing to pay the price

  • 44% of survey respondents say they’d pay the $99/month price tag for Starlink internet if they were given an option to make payments on the $499 equipment fee.
  • Nationwide, the average internet speed is 57.2 Mbps. Starlink speed tests have shown an average speed of 103.1 Mbps—that means Starlink is 80% faster than the national average.
  • The average monthly internet bill is $65/month. Starlink is slated to cost $99/month.
  • The average American pays $1.13/Mbps per month for internet, while Starlink users would pay $0.96/Mbps per month.

Even though Starlink may be a bit heavier on the budget than the average internet service, our survey suggests that many Americans would be willing to pay more to get the internet speeds they need.

Methodology

The analysts at Reviews.org surveyed 500 Americans 18 and older to determine how they felt about Starlink’s satellite internet service offering compared to their existing internet connection type, speed, and price.

The survey has a sample error of ± 4.5% and a 95% level of confidence.

Starlink speed data was sourced from 168 speed test reports from various beta test users across the country.

FAQ

Still have questions about SpaceX Starlink satellite internet? Let’s see if we can help.

When can we start using Starlink?

Starlink has kept quiet about which areas it will roll out beta testing to and when it will happen. So if your neighborhood doesn’t get Starlink service yet, keep your ear to the ground and check your address regularly on the official Starlink site.

Can you use Starlink anywhere?

Right now, the Starlink beta is mostly focused on the northernmost states in the US, with some exceptions. And as for countries where Starlink is offered, you’re limited to the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Can Starlink be mobile?

If you’re hoping to take your Starlink internet service with you on a road trip or to your cabin, you might be disappointed. Right now, the service is limited to one address. (Though you can update your service address once you receive your equipment.)

Does weather affect Starlink?

Weather isn’t as huge an issue for satellite internet as some make it out to be, and Starlink is no exception.

The satellite dish is actually set up to operate in temperatures as low as 22° below zero and up to 104°F, though some beta testers reported losing service because their dish got too hot.

What will Starlink internet cost?

Starlink’s beta service costs $99 per month on top of a one-time $499 equipment fee. Elon Musk has stated that he hopes to bring the equipment price down in the future—maybe to a cost as low as $250.

Will Starlink be unlimited data?

Right now, Starlink beta testers get unlimited data. But the official Starlink site leaves the door open for future data caps by saying, “At this time there are no data caps under the Starlink Beta program.” So only time will tell if Starlink customers continue to get unlimited data.

How fast will Starlink internet be?

The Starlink beta test promises download speeds of 50–150 Mbps, but some customers have seen speeds slower than 50 Mbps—and some even saw speeds faster than 150 Mbps.

Because the service is still in beta, it’s hard to nail down just how fast Starlink will be. But our hope is that more satellites will improve download speeds for all.

Is Starlink good for gaming?

You can technically game on satellite internet, and Starlink’s low latency makes that even more true.

Reported latency for Starlink was 31–88 ms, which is fairly reasonable even for a first-person shooter (FPS) game. The only things to watch out for? Slow download speeds (for patching or downloading new games) and service disconnects.

Is Starlink good for streaming?

The latest download speeds reported by Starlink users hit median speeds of 40–94 Mbps, which is enough to stream Netflix or Disney+ even in 4K.

Just know that any other connected devices, like laptops, cell phones, or home security systems, will also use up some of that Starlink bandwidth and may put a cramp in your Loki binge session.

Will Starlink replace 5G?

We don’t believe Starlink will replace 5G, since 5G internet service will likely be an easy way to connect to the internet in more urban areas. Starlink, on the other hand, will likely become a great option for those living in rural areas where 5G service doesn’t extend due to a lack of existing cell structures.

In fact, you could say that these two new internet services might complement each other. 5G’s short-distance networks are optimal for densely populated urban areas, and Starlink’s requirement that your dish have a line of sight to the sky is optimal for wide open, rural spaces.

Sources

  1. Softwaresaur, Reddit, “Starlink Availability: Current and New Beta Test Locations, New Pre-orders and Conversions,” July 2021. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  2. Isla McKetta, SpeedTest, “Starlink: Bridging the Digital Divide or Shooting for the Stars?,” May 2021. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  3. Smoke-away, Reddit, “List of Confirmed Starlink Speed Tests,” November 2020. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  4. DishyMcFlatFace, Reddit, “We Are the Starlink Team, Ask Us Anything!.” November 2020. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  5. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, “Starlink’s ‘Next-Generation’ User Terminal Will Cost a Lot Less, Musk Says,” June 2021. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  6. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, “Starlink Dishes Go Into ‘Thermal Shutdown’ Once They Hit 122° Fahrenheit,” June 2021. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  7. John R. Quain, Tom’s Guide, “Starlink Review (Hands On): How Good Is Elon Musk’s Satellite Internet Service?,” April 2021. Accessed July 6, 2021.
  • Jessi VernerLasiter

    I am currently a viasat customer. I have the 12mbps plan up to 40gb of data then it is prioritized after the 40gb. I pay 90 dollars per month. That’s the lowest tier of internet available through them. That price is including fees, equipment rental, ECT… So the 30-150 isn’t accurate anymore. I left Hughesnet to switch to viasat. I don’t like either one of them they both throttle speeds to almost unusable internet. But viasat does offer more data per month. I get 40gb compared to hughesnets 10gb. Viasat is just the lesser of 2 evils. Has anyone heard if spacelink will help people get out of their contract with the competition? If so I’d switch in a heartbeat.

  • Chris

    Any news on the star link latency?

  • Aca

    Weather will be problem. It is wasting money.

  • CYB3R

    I can’t wait to ditch Comcast.

  • JJ

    I need help putting the latency speeds in perspective. Does anyone have an apples to apples example between say Spectrum and Starlink?
    Thank you.

  • home search

    If the cost will be like that, then I am sure that people , who live in poor countries , will not be able to afford that money each month. So I suggest that Starlink makes the cost between 10$ to 30$ .