Are you thinking about getting Starlink? Here are some things to consider!

Update 07/1/24:  Starlink has improved greatly and we are installing it almost every day around the Flathead Valley and other areas.  Even homes with several large gaps in the trees around them seem to be able to gain reliable access, as well as people who maybe only have a view to the skies in one direction or another!  It’s always best fo have a clear view 360 degrees at 32 degrees in elevation to have the best shot at obtaining fast, reliable, uninterrupted service, but it’s much better than it was, even a year ago! Contact us for more information, to see if Starlink is right for you, and/or to Request a Site Survey for us to assess and estimate your installation today!

Update 10/1/22:  Starlink has improved and we are now offering Starlink Installations in the Flathead Valley and other areas of Montana.  Check this article out or contact us for more information.

I posted this information in a local Facebook Group a few minutes ago when someone asked me to explain what they should consider when choosing Starlink:

Well, I’m not here to solicit or spam the group, but I feel it could help to raise awareness and make some people think about their choices more carefully! So, since you asked:

1. For those who want “always on” Internet access for streaming movies, phone calls, zoom, gaming, monitoring security, etc. Starlink is not great because right now the service is not up 100% of the time, and if you are dealing with trees and tall buildings around your home or business, it will be down even more often until they get more satellites up and online to offer some redundancy. Most people might not notice, but many will and many run apps and do things that can’t afford that downtime at all!

2. It’s expensive ($110.00) compared to other solutions such as Charter/Spectrum Cable Internet ($65+), Montana Sky ($60+), etc. that offer similar speeds, so if you have access to Charter or Montana Sky, Montana Digital, Bullet, etc. from your location, those are often better solutions.

3. # of users/devices. As with HughesNet and others, Starlink slows significantly when additional users/devices are connected concurrently. Charter Cable and other services offer support for many more concurrent users/devices. So if you plan on connecting everything from your FitBit, Alexa, Security Cameras, etc. it’s probably going to slow down significantly.

4. Latency: (Delay) While Starlink has a much less delay (lower latency) (20 – 40ms) than services like HughesNet (700ms), it’s still higher than many land-based solutions that are often as low as (1 – 10ms), so online gaming is going and other time essential apps are going to work better over landbased solutions. In order words, when you are playing a game online, when you push the arrow key to move left, do you want your character to move left immediately or half of a second later! That matters a lot with some games and other apps.

5. Support & Installation: Good luck getting support online or finding someone to install Starlink for you if you are unable to do it yourself. Elon pissed off most of the satellite guys when he decided to try to do everything in-house, rather than sharing the wealth, so most of us older satellite guys don’t want to support Elon either! There will soon be competition for Starlink that will be much better supported and provide local installation services as well.

6. Companies like Charter/Spectrum, Montana Sky, Montana Digital, Bullet, and others employ your friends and neighbors and contribute to the Flathead, unlike Starlink / SpaceX and similar companies from out of the area. Most people would prefer to support local businesses. Well, they used to anyway!

7. The stock Starlink mounts and adapters suck! It’s like they only tested them in Southern Cali or something! I’ve seen rusty and even broken adapters, and mounts ripped from the roof. Starlink dishes have been broken from heavy ice that collected on them when they were not plugged in and therefore not warm over the winter months. My company happens to offer much better, stronger, and classier solutions for installations to handle Montana weather, winters, and winds and to get the antennas high enough to help avoid trees, etc.

Because of the issues mentioned above, some people who don’t have access to many other solutions might choose to keep CenturyLink, or even HughesNet, and use it alongside Starlink, sometimes even with a dual-wan router or something to tie the connections together so they can have a good, reliable, connection all of the time, not just some of the time. Starlink also doesn’t offer a static IP that is actually required for many Internet applications.

Right now Starlink speeds and latency are all over the place also, people never know what to expect. While that’s fine for many people, those who work from home or are taking online courses, etc., or streaming Netflix in HD, etc. might not be too happy about that! No one likes buffering! And, if that’s not enough, there are solar flares, and threats of China or Russia shooting down the satellites to worry about with space-based satellite Internet access solutions! Lol! And finally, what are the final speeds, monthly rates, and maybe even data caps going to be once everything is up and in place with Starlink? The truth is no one knows!

That’s at least kind of a summary, and some things to at least consider before bailing on a current provider or settling for Starlink! I’m sure the people who thought they would be getting 200mb speeds are not happy that it’s only been like 20mb speeds from time to time lately either. But, then again, for many, 20mb is still better than 2mb, so I get it for sure!

Contact me, Tom Mattheisen, at (406) 270-3492 to discuss your concerns and/or other possible solutions for your area and application!  Even if I can’t offer you a solution, I’ll still refer you to the best one for your needs!