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When Will Starlink Internet Be Available?

Published on July 30, 2021

Over half a million people have placed orders for Starlinks 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 since the satellite constellation is not built out fully. 

How well is Starlink performing?

In private beta test results, Starlink has shown it can deliver a high-speed satellite internet connection of 100 Mbps or more with an extremely low latency of 20 milliseconds.1,2,3 Currently, Starlink beta pricing is $99 per month, with an initial $499 equipment cost required at sign up.7 Thats a tad more than most were hoping for, but the service offers unlimited data and ample speeds for working or learning remotely. And the best news of all for rural dwellers: you won’t need to have your home wired with cable or fiber (or anything) to get it.

As the satellite system is built out over the next few years, satellite internet service will expand availability throughout the world. You can try to sign up for Starlink beta by volunteering to participate in beta testing and getting email updates on when service will be available in your area.

At a glance: Starlink service mid-2021

  • Beta service is $99.00/mo. for unlimited data.
  • One-time equipment cost of $499.00 is required.
  • Starlink has 1,640 satellites in orbit (fully operational).
  • Countries with Starlink service available include the following: 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% operational yet. Right now, customers are told to expect periodic outages until the satellite constellation is more fully built out. Reviewers say Starlink is great when it works, but it’s still unreliable.19 If you plan to use Starlink for remote work or school, the frequent disconnections will be frustrating.

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

*With paperless billing and autopay discount. Data as of 5/14/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

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 isnt 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.

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When to sign up for Starlink

Starlink has a mega satellite constellation of over 1,700 satellites thus far, with more launching every month. The Starlink satellite internet beta service is available in select parts of 14 countries so far. But there are still thousands more satellite launches to go, and Starlink service may be inconsistent in many locations.

How many satellites still need to be launched?

Starlink originally filed for permission to launch 12,000 satellites, and since then the company has filed for permission to launch up to 42,000.15,16  This means that the current satellite constellation offers just bare bones connectivity to select areas, and limited capacity.

As gaps in the satellite constellation are filled in over the next 18 months, we’ll start to see more reliable internet service from Starlink and it’ll be capable of supporting more customers.

In late July 2021, Starlink  announced that sometime in August 2021, service will be available globally. This doesnt mean everyone in the world can get Starlink yet. Thus far, only 14 countries have approved permitted Starlink to begin official operations, although more will probably join the list.

Where is Starlink available?

Starlink is available in parts of 14 countries. Not all customers in these regions will be able to sign up, as service is limited during the beta.

Starlink is available in 14 countries:

  • United States
  • Denmark
  • The Netherlands
  • Australia
  • Chile
  • Canada
  • France
  • The United Kingdom
  • Austria
  • New Zealand
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • Ireland
  • Mexico (planned)

Additional countries are accepting beta test applications, and Starlink announced that by August 2021 service will be available worldwide (with the exception of polar regions and in countries that havent invited Starlink into their country yet).

Prospective beta testers are told to expect periodic outages and speeds between 50 to 150 Mbps, with latency around 20 to 40 ms. Service costs $99 per month, plus a one-time equipment fee of $499. If you want to learn more, youll need to go to the Starlink website and join the company’s mailing list. 

During the public beta, Starlink is available to customers who live between 45 and 53 degrees latitude.5 As the satellite constellation is built out further, additional regions will be added until it is available globally. You might be able to sign up on the waiting list for Starlink if you live in the northern US, Canada, or 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.

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.

What’s available now? Check what internet you can get now.

Starlink satellite launches

Starlink has been launching satellites into orbit since early 2018, with launches expected to continue for years. The first few launches (in 2018 and mid-2019) were test satellites, and those satellites aren’t officially part of the Starlink network since they aren’t fully operational.11 But by late 2019, Starlink worked out the kinks and satellite launches became a routine occurrence, scheduled in bimonthly batches of about 60 satellites.

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.7,8

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

August 10, 2021

v1.0 L29

60 (planned)

Starlink speeds: 50–150 Mbps

On September 3, 2020, SpaceX engineer Kate Tice said that testers have reported download speeds higher than 100 Mbps, which is fast enough for “multiple HD video streams with bandwidth to spare.” During the public beta launch, potential testers were told to expect speeds between 50 and 150 Mbps.

Starlink latency: Under 30 ms

Tice also reported that testers have experienced “super low latency” that will support fast-action online gaming.

In a report SpaceX filed with the FCC in September 2020, Starlink beta test results showed latency under 30 milliseconds (ms), which is incredible for satellite internet. During the public beta that began in late October, customers were told that latency rates were between 20 ms to 40 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 Starlinks low latency rate will be a boon for rural customers.12

Light

“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 space lasers. In September 2020, two satellites successfully used this feature. 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.9,10

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.

Beta only

Viasat

Viasat

Up to 100 Mbps

594–624 ms

50–300 GB/mo.

$30.00–$150.00/mo.*

View plans

HughesNet

HughesNet

Up to 25 Mbps

594–624 ms

10–50 GB/mo.

$59.99–$150.00/mo.*

View plans

*With paperless billing and autopay discount. Data as of 5/14/2021. 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, the UK, and nine other countries. Once it’s available, you will be able to get Starlink internet in rural and underserved areas of the world. It’s not designed for dense population centers like major cities, but it will be a new option for rural areas of the world, including Tribal lands in the US. 

 Will I be able to use Starlink satellite service on the road?

According to Elon Musk, Starlink will eventually be a mobile solution. It will also offer VOIP phone service to remote locations. 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.18 

How fast is Starlink internet?

Starlink advertises the beta service as having speeds between 50 Mbps and 150 Mbps.15 So, Starlink speeds are somewhat faster than satellite internet provider HughesNet but about the same as Viasat. These 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?

No, Starlink isn’t reliable enough to be the sole internet connection in most locations. Starlink service will improve within the next year or two, as more satellites are launched, but the satellite constellation isn’t built out enough yet to provide continuous internet service. Starlink internet will blink out for a few minutes here and there, throughout the day. 

Starlink is still in the beta phase and reviews are mixed. So if you’re wondering if now is the time to ditch your current provider and go all-in with Starlink, we recommend holding back a few more months until Starlink service is more reliable.

Will I be able to use Starlink satellite service on the road?

According to Elon Musk, Starlink will eventually be a mobile solution.18 The company is developing a portable antenna for large trucks and RVs. Musk says that mobile service will be available by the end of 2021.20 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, Starlink is planning to have a VoIP phone service plan also. Starlink will also offer emergency services.21

Can’t wait for Starlink? Check internet providers near you.

Sources

  1. Sheets, Michael, CNBC, “SpaceX Says Starlink Internet Has ‘Extraordinary Demand,’ with Nearly 700,000 Interested in Service,” August 2020. Accessed September 2, 2020.
  2. Sheetz, Michael, CNBC, “SpaceX Wants to Land Starship on the Moon within Three Years, President Says, with People Soon After,” October 2019. Accessed September 1, 2020.
  3. Malik, Tariq, “SpaceX Delays Next Starlink Satellite Fleet Launch Due to Rocket Recovery Issue’,” September 2020, Accessed September 18, 2020.
  4. SpaceX.com, “September 3, 2020 Starlink Mission Launch,” streamed live on September 3, 2020. Accessed September 3, 2020.
  5. 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.
  6. Kan, Michael, PCMag, “How Fast Is SpaceXs Satellite Internet? Beta Tests Show it Hitting Up to 60 Mbps,” August 2020. Accessed September 2, 2020. 
  7. Mack, Erik, CNET, “Latest SpaceX Starlink Satellite Launch Sets Another Flight Record”, August 2020. Accessed September 2, 2020.
  8. Clark, Stephen, “Live coverage: SpaceX launches another 60 Starlink satellites,” September 2020. Accessed September 18, 2020.
  9. Wall, Mike, “SpaceX Just Launched a Fleet of Starlink Satellites. Heres How to Spot Them in the Sky,” September 2020. Accessed September 18, 2020.
  10. Satellite Calculations, “Geostationary Satellite Positions List,” September 2020. Accessed September 18, 2020.
  11. Wattles, Jackie, “Here’s what you need to know about SpaceX’s Starlink internet service,” October 2019. Accessed September 18, 2020.
  12. Goldman, David, SpaceX Degani Ex Parte, September 4, 2020. Accessed September 24, 2020.
  13. Hamilton, Isobel Asher “Elon Musk Says Starlink Now Has Enough Satellites in Orbit to Launch a Public Beta of Its High-Speed Internet Service,” October 2020. Accessed October 14, 2020.
  14. Ralph, Eric, “SpaceX Starlink ‘Space Lasers’ Successfully Tested in Orbit for the First Time,” September 2020. Accessed October 14, 2020.
  15. Grush, Loren, SpaceX Begins Public Beta Testing of Starlink Constellation at $99 a Month, October 2020. Accessed October 27, 2020.
  16. OCallaghan, Jonathan, Scientific American, “The FCC’s Approval of SpaceX’s Starlink Mega Constellation May Have Been Unlawful,” January 2020. Accessed February 1, 2021.
  17. Wall, Mike, Scientific American, “SpaceX’s Starlink Constellation Could Swell by 30,000 More Satellites,” October 2019. Accessed February 1, 2021.
  18. 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.
  19. Patel, Nilay, “Starlink Review: Broadband Dreams Fall to Earth,” May 2021. Accessed May 14, 2021.
  20. Maring, Joseph, “Musks Starlink Can Be Strapped to a Truck or RV, But Not Yet,” April 2021.  Accessed May 14, 2021.
  21. Brodkin, Jon, “SpaceX Plans Starlink Phone Service, Emergency Backup, and Low-income Access,” February 2021. Accessed May 14, 2021.

Kristin

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.

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