Starlink in Australia

Information based on conversations with Starlink Australia and BIRRR web research.

When will Starlink be available in Australia ?

  • Mid to late 2021
  • To see if you are eligible go here – https://www.starlink.com/
  • And complete the form – the next screen will indicate whether they are targeting your area
  • Take note that placing a deposit does not guarantee a service.
  • Please read their Pre-Order agreement here – https://www.starlink.com/legal/terms-of-service-preorder?regionCode=AU
  • Details on Australian customers (April 2021)
    320 customers are currently connected in VIC/NSW
    7000 customers have paid deposits and are on the waiting list
    (about half are outside Area 74)
    High and medium density areas are still not covered, but Starlink are having ongoing discussions about boundaries with ACMA.
  • What is your rollout plan?
    Geographic areas, activate cells one by one
    Scattered sites, with a segmented roll out
  • Is there a more accurate guide as to when further Starlink services will be available and where, in Australia?
    Not at this stage.
  • What areas of Australia will be covered?
    Initially Starlink will be available to parts of Southern Australia (below -32 degrees latitude). Many areas in the rest of the country will be available mid to late 2021.
    Source https://www.icsm.gov.au/sites/default/files/inline-images/aust_imw_index_0.jpg
  • Will the service be available in metropolitan areas e.g. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane?
    No, their Australian license is for low density areas only, urban areas are off limits.
    The ACMA link to Starlink’s licence
    https://web.acma.gov.au/rrl/licence_image.extract_pdf?pLICENCE_NO=11181002%2F1 states they are a low density remote only.


    You can see Area 74 coverage here
    https://web.acma.gov.au/rrl/access_area_search.map?pAREA_CODE=74 
  • Federal Government’s response to ACMA licence for Starlink
    Starlink has received licences to operate in its initial coverage area and it would be open to them to apply for licences to operate in other areas as well – which would be considered by ACMA using the normal processes for these licences. So it is very much a commercial decision as to where they have purchased these licences – not a direction by government to protect the NBN.
  • How many earth stations are in Australia
    At this stage, there are nine. They are at Pimba SA, Boorowa NSW, Wagin WA, Broken Hill NSW. Cobargo NSW, Torrumbarry VIC, Ki Ki SA, Cataby WA and Merredin WA. A proposed gateway is also at Boodarie (near Port Headland) in the Pilbara
  • Where will future gateway sites be? (April 2021)
    More gateway sites to be rolled out in the coming months in the South-West and Northern coastal areas of Australia.
  • What do the earth stations look like?
  • $139 per month / AUS Dollars?
    Yes
  • Are you provided with a tax invoice and is there GST? Is there a lock in contract?
    GST included, tax invoice is downloadable from the account portal.  No lock in contract. Upon purchase, equipment is owned by the customer with a 12-month warranty for failure. Thereafter it is the customers responsibility.
  • What payment methods do you have available?
    Apple Pay and Credit Card – international transaction charges apply, the billing is completed in Singapore.
  • When will Beta move to ‘ready for service’ in Australia? (April 2021)
    Maybe US Summer – September/October, main focus is reliability.
    Don’t want too many users too fast.
  • Have there been any problems with those on beta testing in Australia? (April 2021)
    Reliability / Drops to network while in beta is the main concern currently.
  • Will Starlink plans stay ‘simple’ ie one unlimited plan? (April 2021)
    Clear, simple to understand plans are absolutely the goal of Starlink
  • Are there any planned measures to curb users that ‘hog too much bandwidth’, or is this not a problem? (April 2021)
    The team is not noticing any significantly heavy network use since Australian launch, but will consider actions if/when it starts to become a concern.
    There may be inclusion of business tiers for non-typical download amounts in the future.
  • Timeline for mobility (April 2021)
    The team is hoping that software updates that will assist with portability of units will be ready by the end of the year, TBA date for public release with potential for use from early next year.

Equipment / Hardware 

  • Cost, what equipment comes with the $709 hardware fee (plus $100 postage).
    Dish, WiFi router, a PoE (power over Ethernet) supply, a tripod mount and two Ethernet cables
  • In the box
  • Two types of roof mounts are optional extras. Volcano & Pipe Adapter Mounts are available for purchase.
  • How much does the roof mount kit cost?
    Both roof mounts in Australia are $69, and you can order them with your kit order as an option.
    Starlink in their FAQ say:
    Download the Starlink app to assess field of view in your desired install location before installing. If you cannot find a clear field of view from the ground level, consider a roof install. Roof mounts are available for purchase in your account.
  • Is it self-install? How easy is it to install, what type of instructions do you send out?
    Yes, self-install and fairly easy to install.
    As a user you connect the dish to its base and place it outside in a spot on the ground or flat roof with a clear view of the sky, connect to power supply/router and power on. The dish will automatically track it’s own placement and connect to the Starlink network.

  • What type of warranty is offered on the equipment?
    1 year warranty on equipment.
  • If the equipment is damaged in a storm or fire or by birds chewing cables etc who is responsible for it?
    End user is responsible for the equipment and any damage that occurs to it. 
  • How easy is it to get replacement equipment? Where does it ship from?
    Equipment ships from Los Angeles.
  • If I use solar power, do you have a DC version of the Starlink power supply?  Can the equipment be run off a generator?
    There is not currently a DC power supply. Starlink can be run off a generator if it is a clean AC sinusoid.
  • Does the power supply come with an Australian plug? Or do I need to use an adaptor?
    Comes with an Australian plug.
  • Do you need some type of internet connection already for the app to install to work?
    You will need to have the internet to download the app, however once installed it will work without a connection to check location and connect to your Starlink system. The app is only a bonus, it’s not necessarily needed to get the service working.
  • Will the equipment handle all temperatures? Frost? Dew? High winds?
    They have tested in all conditions and are confident it can handle extreme heat, rain, snow etc. The user terminal will receive upgrades over the course of the next few months to improve facilitating snow meltability as winter arrives and it can operate in temperatures as low as -30°C and exceeding 40°C. SpaceX has also tested the terminal at 45°C but the terminal is not certified to operate at this range. Additionally, the SpaceX representative also confirmed that the terminal is not designed to operate in high winds and should be brought indoors in such a circumstance. https://wccftech.com/starlink-laser-operating-temperature-other-details/
  • Will they consider engaging local installers to roof mount equipment?
    No, it will be self-install.
  • Will they be allowing any resellers? Do they only intend to offer services direct or are they planning wholesale to other providers?
    No resellers
  • Can you purchase / get parts e.g. just the dish?
    This Kit is sold as a whole kit. Power supplies and routers can be replaced if necessary, shipped from Los Angeles at your cost. Questioned on the establishment of regional supply depots, but the answer was non-committal.
  • Can the dish work from inside a building with large windows?
    No.
  • What are the recommendations for what to do with your outside equipment during a cyclone/heatwave/dust storm/grasshopper plague/bushfire?
    Bring it inside – it is robust enough to withstand some wind, rain etc. Won’t handle cyclones or the type of wind that would take your dog off the chain 😉
  • Should users protect their equipment from power surges? (quite common in Australia)
    Starlink meets all National Electric Code requirements and there is no exposed metal.
  • In the event of loss of signal/no connection, how long does it take to re-aquire services?
    Typically very quickly, but it depends on the cause.
  • Clearly, trees and hills will affect signal reception, does Skyline have a rule of thumb regarding the typical working angle of view (the sweet spot) for those living in bushland?
    We provide a feature on the application so customers can find the best field of view!
  • For those living in the outback with horizon to horizon views, presumably day to day atmospheric conditions will prevent reception when the satellite is close to the horizon.
    Starlink should be capable in this environment
  • Is there any direct experience so far in regard to reception through bushfire smoke or haze?
    No experience yet, but Starlink should be capable in this environment
  • The consumer satellite dishes have moving parts, what is the wind speed rating of these units?
    This is dependent on how the customer is mounting their Starlink. The highest rated mount would be the volcano mount tested up to 75 MPH winds.
  • Equipment details (April 2021)
    100 degree span for the current satellite service signal. This may reduce in the future.
    Cable routing kit now available in the online store.
    No changes to self install configuration, not adding installer networks at this time, but Starlink have set expectations on how you self install.
  • Power Consumption (April 2021)
    Starlink power consumption in Australia is estimated to be 90 watt – 120 watt
    Report from the UK
    However, in terms of power consumption, Tim says Starlink’s system tends to use about 89 Watts when idle and then bumps up to around 110w during normal usage (average of c.100w). But he did also see the occasional peak, reaching at most 175.7w (the Power Supply Unit is rated for 180w). “The motors on the dish seem to only be used during initial alignment, then it’s all beam forming,” said Tim. See here https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2021/03/electricity-costs-of-starlinks-uk-leo-broadband-satellite-service.html
    Report from USA
    The basic Starlink dish is powered using a custom version of Power over Ethernet (PoE), drawing between 90 to 100 watts in operation. Broadcast power output is such that the heat generated from operations acts as a deicer. How well the dish holds up in hotter environments as well as all environments over time has yet to be seen. https://www.spaceitbridge.com/the-starlink-dish-what-can-it-do-what-will-it-evolve-to.htm

Data

  • If the data is unlimited in the beta phase, can it be expected to be unlimited in the final setup? Or will the beta testers determine what will happen in the final setup?
    Starlink hopes with more satellites being launched they will be able to continue to offer unlimited data past the Beta stage.
  • Do you perform traffic prioritisation? eg video has less priority than web browsing?
    No
  • Do you shape traffic if I use too much data?
    No, not yet anyway. We ensure that any location is ‘right sized’ in customers numbers for the current satellite coverage.

On Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/Starlink/wiki/faq#wiki_-_will_starlink_be_available_in_dense_urban_areas.2Fcities.3F )
Will Starlink be available in dense urban areas/cities?
Elon: “We’ll have some small number of customers in Los Angeles but we can’t do a lot of customers in Los Angeles because the bandwidth per cell is simply not high enough” also “I wanna be clear, it’s not like Starlink is a huge threat to telcos. I want to be super clear. It is not. In fact it will be helpful to telcos because Starlink will serve the hardest to serve customers that telcos otherwise have trouble doing with landlines or even with cell radio stations, cell towers.”

  • Is Starlink for residential use only? What is the usage limit of residential use? eg 150GB per month? Can I use it for my business?
    They are currently offering residential only but have a business team in the future who will be introduced to BIRRR.
  • Will you restrict the number of users in a particular cell?
    Yes service will be capped to a certain number in each area.
    Starlink cells are indicated here
    https://sebsebmc.github.io/starlink-coverage/index.html
  • What is the service availability?
    99% was mentioned and that it depends on the satellite coverage. There will be some periods of downtime.
  • Can the service be moved? Is it portable ? Can the terminal be transported for nomadic use e.g. itinerant workers in stock camps and grey nomads.
    Not at this stage however they are moving towards making the equipment a portable/mobile product within the next 12 months. From the Starlink official FAQ: “Starlink satellites are scheduled to send the internet down to all users within a designated area on the ground. This designated area is referred to as a cell. Your Starlink is assigned to a single cell. If you move your Starlink outside of its assigned cell, a satellite will not be scheduled to serve your Starlink and you will not receive internet. This is constrained by geometry and is not arbitrary geofencing.”
  • If I move addresses, do I have to send the equipment back to Starlink? How much does that cost? What happens if I use the connection somewhere it’s not registered for use?
    Yes if you move you need to send the equipment back, no answer on costs, connection won’t work if you use it somewhere it is not registered. 
  • Does your address need to map to a particular database or Google maps to be able to order the service? Yes, your address does need to match in databases to be able to order the service online. It was suggested that if your address does not marry up, you can reach out to Starlink to make the coordinate adjustments on your account.

Weather

  • You say the service doesn’t work well in heavy winds. What is the wind rating of the tripod ground-mount? What is the wind rating of the roof mount?
    This is dependent on how the customer is mounting their Starlink. The highest rated mount would be the volcano mount tested up to 75 MPH winds.
  • How does the service perform in rain events?
    Beta testing shows good performance and has been tested in various rainy conditions.
  • Do you have different sized dishes for more tropical areas?
    No
  • What is the likely pattern of predicted interruptions due to lack of satellite coverage? Should users expect any downtime or periods of no connectivity?
    Early in beta program there will be brief periods of no connectivity, however we expect this to reduce dramatically as we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and make network software improvements.
  • Are there any weather events (apart from those requiring safe stowage of the antenna) that will cause service interruption?
    The outdoor Starlink dish operating temperature is -30 to +50 degrees C.

Speed

  • What types of speeds should people be getting – download and upload? Do you guarantee a set speed parameter?
    They expect similar speeds to the Beta trials, 50 – 150mbps (with more satellites up to 300mbps), no speed guarantees.
  • Are the speeds expected in the final service, like the beta ones?
    Yes
  • What type of latency should I expect in Australia, will it be similar to US beta testers?
    Possibly, maybe a bit higher, 20 – 40ms, sometimes more.  They are interested to see performance in Australia.

Support

  • What support is available to help people with installation or connection issues?
    Support for connection issues mainly, installation issues not so easy to offer support for.
  • Where will the support be based? What hours will they be available?
    Support based in the US, available 24 hours 7 days a week.
  • How will you be able to contact support? Will you be able to phone and speak to someone?
    Primarily Online, create a ticket. May also have a phone service available.
    BIRRR noted that often people in regional Australia don’t have a backup internet service and will only have a landline available.
  • We understand that logistics are LA based. In the event of a hardware failure that requires replacement equipment, what is the anticipated diagnostics and supply delay.
    We target to respond to tickets within the same day. In the event a replacement is needed, shipping time is estimated to take 1-2 weeks

  • Does the customer terminal provide user diagnostics, such that the user and StarLink can accurately determine the network performance and availability? Metrics such as latency, jitter (up and down), speed (up and down) packet loss, outage totals, data usage etc.
    Yes, the Starlink app provides details on performance, including outages, obstructions, See below

  • Does the customer terminal identify satellite signal strength and the number of satellites in range and can the customer view this information?
    See above – the user will know when no satellites are above
  • Will the StarLink operations centre perform powerful analytics to ensure that Starlink is aware of any service degradation before the customer?
    Absolutely. We are constantly monitoring and optimizing performance.
  • How transparent is StarLink as a service provider? Will we hear the good with the bad?
    Yes, we are transparent about quality of service & outages.
  • Will the StarLink network operations Centre be able to monitor individual services?
    Absolutely.
  • Australian consumer law effectively deems that if a purchased product is unfit for service that the customer is fully re-reimbursed. Is this the case?
    Absolutely! Starlink is licensed under Australia law & will operate a such.

Partnerships (April 2021)
Not working with partners for installation purposes,  at the moment but not discounting the idea of doing something in the future.

What are Angel Projects (April 2021)
Angel Projects are for people in need with Schools/Education Internet requirements.

References

StarLink FAQ https://www.starlink.com/faq 

Starlink Wiki on reddit – https://www.reddit.com/r/Starlink/wiki/index

Starlink on Twitter https://twitter.com/SpaceXStarlink 

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with Starlink regarding your own connection issues and equipment needed.