What you need to know
- Starlink is now widely available across Australia
- Upfront hardware and shipping costs can set you back around $1,000
- It advertises download speeds between 100Mbps and 200Mbps and offers unlimited data
Starlink is a private satellite internet service launched by Elon Musk's aerospace company, SpaceX.
SpaceX plans to have thousands of low-Earth satellites forming a global cluster capable of delivering internet services to just about any spot on the planet.
It aims to eventually provide high-speed broadband to customers worldwide who can't get a decent internet connection from existing technologies.
Starlink operates through a network of low-Earth orbit satellites that bounce signals from your equipment back to ground stations on earth, completing a broadband connection.
Because Starlink satellites are closer to the earth than other satellite services, the signals should take less time to reach them. This in turn should give households a faster connection.
As of February 2023, SpaceX has launched more than 3,800 Starlink satellites in orbit. It has permission to deploy 12,000 more and hopes to seek further approval for another 30,000 satellites.
Starlink launched in Australia in April 2021, specifically focusing trial efforts in northern Victoria and southern New South Wales.
It has since expanded to 20 Starlink ground stations in the country and the company says most people around the states and territories can access its services.
Here's a look at Starlink's coverage map for Australia.
Alternatively, you can head to Starlink's website and enter your address to see if it's accessible at your property.
Signing up to a Starlink internet plan will cost you at least $1,163.
You'll be paying for:
The hardware cost will set you back the most. If you're lucky, there could be a promotion running to reduce the cost by almost 50% as we've seen happen before. The shipping and handling fee could also be waived as part of a special offer.
The launch won’t happen until late 2023 and prices will only be made available closer to time.
Two additional features will set Telstra apart from Starlink. It’ll offer voice services which might be useful to those struggling with their mobile network, and the option for professional installation.
The main caveat is these add-ons may end up making Starlink more expensive if bought via Telstra but we’ll have to wait for the the official price announcement.
For high-end plans better suited to businesses, Starlink Business charges a steep $374 per month and $3,740 for a one-off hardware fee.
In return, you'll get a more powerful antenna and 1TB of data. Shipping costs are charged at $155.
Starlink's download speeds range between 100Mbps and 200Mbps on its standard plans, with a latency of 25ms–50ms and upload speeds of 5Mbps–15Mbps.
Its business plans can attain download speeds of up to 350Mbps, latency as low as 20ms and upload speeds of up to 25Mbps.
According to Ookla's Q3 and Q4 report for 2022, Starlink users in Australia experienced median download speeds of 106.43Mbps. This has slightly improved from Q2 median download speeds of 102.76Mbps.
Upload speeds and latency were clocked at 10.45Mbps and 49ms respectively.
If we're looking at starting prices, the NBN comes out cheaper than Starlink. Satellite NBN plans start at $45 per month compared to Starlink's $139, and that's not even including Starlink's extra set-up costs.
Equipment for the NBN is provided for free by NBN Co. All you have to do is pay for a modem when you sign up to a plan. Depending on the provider, this can cost you anywhere from $60 to $200.
On the opposite side, Starlink will cost you close to $1,000 just to set up.
That being said, you do get better inclusions with Starlink. See the comparison below:
|Plan price||$139 a month||Starts from $45 a month|
|Set-up costs||Starting from $1,024||Modem costs up to $200|
|Data||Unlimited||Data capped for on- and off-peak hours|
Sky Muster NBN caps out at 25Mbps and frequently comes with data caps that vary between peak and off-peak hours, making things a bit more complicated for users. Meanwhile, Starlink offers up to 200Mbps and unlimited data on its NBN plan. That's a massive win for Starlink and why paying more for its services could be enticing.
So while the NBN is the cheaper option of the 2, it's not totally fair to compare them side by side because their inclusions differ so wildly.
This is a complex question because it depends on which NBN technology you're looking at. Overall, Starlink compares well to the NBN on speed, but not so well on price.
For some NBN customers, especially those on lower quality FTTN connections, Starlink's claim of up to 200Mbps offers much faster speeds than their NBN providers can offer.
In fact, it's faster than the maximum speed of a fixed-line NBN 100 plan.
Keep in mind that faster NBN plans do exist (NBN 250 and NBN 1000) but are currently limited to FTTP and some HFC connection types and are not widely available just yet. If you're lucky enough to have access to them, your average speeds will be faster than Starlink.
However, your latency – the time taken for signals to reach a server – will mostly be higher on Starlink compared to a fixed-line connection since the satellites are further away. High latency can be a problem for video conferencing and especially online gaming.
For NBN Sky Muster satellite customers, there's no comparison. NBN satellite speeds are capped at 25Mbps and often provide low amounts of data.
Starlink is a superior choice here, offering up to 6 times faster speeds than NBN satellite, complete with unlimited data.
NBN fixed wireless customers may prefer Starlink too. Fixed wireless plans currently top out at 75Mbps, so on paper Starlink has a speed edge.
Based on numbers, 5G technology is definitely faster than Starlink. You can get around 300Mbps median speeds in Australia, but Telstra does its customers one better by offering up to 600Mbps at peak times.
Both Starlink and 5G home internet seem like good alternatives to those struggling with slow fixed-line NBN connections. However, it's tricky to compare the 2 technology types as they solve different issues.
For example, Starlink is well-suited to those living in regional or rural areas where options for a good internet connection are limited. 5G home internet offers faster speeds to densely populated areas.
The best option for you will largely depend on your location and how strong 5G coverage is in your area.
In short, Starlink is worth considering if your choices for being connected to the internet are limited to mostly satellite NBN.
It's more expensive, but at least your online activities aren't limited by data caps and 25Mbps speeds. This is especially true for households where 2 or more people are online simultaneously.
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