Starlink in Australia

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

What is Starlink?

Starlink is a low orbit satellite based internet system, developed by SpaceX and designed to eventually be used globally by consumers in regional areas.

Beta Phase

  • Beta is a testing / trial phase of Starlink
  • Australian Beta enrolments started in mid 2021 & will end when more ground stations are rolled out across Australia (possibly around the end of 2021).
  • During Beta testing Starlink will restrict the number of users in each ‘cell’, until there are more satellites launched and therefore more capacity. This restriction will most likely continue after beta testing as well.
  • To see if you are currently eligible for a Starlink service go here – https://www.starlink.com/
  • And complete the form – the next screen will indicate when Starlink is targeting your area. A deposit is taken on sign up & an estimate on potential roll out time frames for your location (if outside an active cell area). Take note that placing a deposit does not guarantee a service. Please read Starlink’s Pre-Order agreement here – https://www.starlink.com/legal/terms-of-service-preorder?regionCode=AU
  • Currently you can not order more than one Starlink kit from the same email address, this will be looked at after beta testing is finished.

Current Starlink Services in Australia

  • As of 2/6/21 Starlink had just under 400 active services operating in Australia, mainly in Northern Victoria and Southern NSW. Starlink has approximately 8000 pre-orders, with half of these located in medium – high-density areas. For Starlink to service these areas, they will need to purchase the appropriate license.
  • As of 2/6/21: In the coming weeks more customers in South-East Australia will be sent their Starlink equipment

Starlink Metro Licensing

The ACMA recently made changes to taxes for radio communications licences in response to feedback from the public during our review of spectrum pricing consultations. The main changes included:

  • For the >5 to 8.5 GHz band, the Authority has reduced tax rates by 50 per cent.
  • In the >8.5 to 14.5 GHz (‘Ku Band’) frequency range, the Authority has reduced tax rates by 90 per cent.

The new lower taxes came into effect on 12 July 2021. SpaceX/Starlink acquired Australia-wide space and space receive radio communications licences shortly after, so they are now licensed to provide services all over the country via these licences within the specified frequency ranges.

These are the licences that Starlink Australia now have:

It should be noted that Starlink in Australia is still in beta (testing mode). Starlink stated that more services will become live in the south-east corner of the Australian mainland. To gain coverage for further areas, more ground stations will have to be built and more satellites have to reach their final altitude.

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 later in 2021/early 2022.

Notes:

  • Federal Government’s response to ACMA licence for Starlink (June 2021) – Starlink has received licences to operate in Area 74. ACMA would be open to Starlink applying for licences to operate in other areas as well, as is the normal process for these licences. It is very much a commercial decision as to where Starlink has purchased these licences – not a direction by the government to protect the NBN.

Beta Testing Issues in Australia

  • There have been some short periods of downtime, Starlink aims to improve reliability by launching more satellites. Following satellite launches it takes several months before full deployment and a Starlink user will see service improvements. The number of dropouts will also decrease with more satellites and more ground stations.
  • Some users have had difficulties accessing Facebook and Instagram from Starlink services – Starlink are working on troubleshooting these issues.
  • There have been some issues with Google addressing, where the address you supply doesn’t match your actual co-ordinates. This can mean that your dish can’t connect to the right cell. To overcome these issues Starlink are using Google Plus codes, where it is known that the address pin is not correct. However, there are plans to implement a map which will show your position so you can adjust accordingly before completing the order. Starlink is currently happy to assist customers who have found themselves in a position where the google address record does not correctly match the property location (post order) through the support website.

Starlink rollout plan for Australia

  • Starlink will be activated in geographical areas across Australia, with each cell being activated one by one.
  • As at 2/6/21 Starlink stated that more services will become live in the south-east corner of the Australian mainland. To gain coverage for further areas, more ground stations will have to be built and more satellites have to reach their final altitude.
  • 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

Earth/Ground stations in Australia

  • At this stage, there are 18 Starlink ground stations.
  • NSW – Boorowa NSW, Broken Hill NSW, Cobargo NSW, Newell Highway CALROSSIE NSW, Newell Highway SPRINGBROOK CREEK NSW, Viney Creek Road W TEA GARDENS NSW, Canyonleigh Road CANYONLEIGH NSW
  • Queensland – West of Emerald at Bogantungan Qld, Warrego Highway WARRA QLD
  • South Australia – Pimba SA, Ki Ki SA
  • Victoria – Torrumbarry VIC, Carrs Road ANAKIE VIC, Siding Road KOONWARRA VIC
  • Western Australia – Wagin WA, Cataby WA, Merredin WA, South West of Coolgaridi WA, A proposed gateway is also at Boodarie (near Port Hedland) in the Pilbara

What do the earth stations look like?

Consumer Information – Plan Costs

  • Starlink plan costs are $AU139 per month, there is only ONE plan type. GST is included
  • An invoice is downloadable from the account portal.
  • There is no lock in contract
  • Payment methods are Apple Pay & Credit Card – international transaction charges apply; the billing is completed in Singapore.
  • Starlink has a goal to keep their plans simple and easy to understand. Currently the service is only available to residential consumers however Starlink are hoping to have business/commercial plans available in the future.

Consumer Information – Equipment / Hardware

  • The Starlink equipment has a $AU709 hardware fee (plus $AU100 postage). Equipment includes a dish (also known as Dishy), WiFi router, a PoE (power over Ethernet) supply, a tripod mount and two Ethernet cables.
  • Starlink equipment has a 12 month warranty for failure. Thereafter it is the customers responsibility, if the equipment is damaged by a storm, birds chewing the cable, etc the consumer is responsible to replace (purchase) and reinstall the equipment.
  • The Starlink equipment is sold as a whole kit, the cable is not removable from the dish. In the event of cable damage, a whole kit will need to be ordered. Power supplies and routers can be replaced, if necessary, shipped from Los Angeles at your cost.
  • Starlink equipment and replacement equipment ship from Los Angeles, Australian users have reported very quick shipping times.
  • In the box

  • Two types of roof mounts are optional extras. Volcano & Pipe Adapter Mounts are available for purchase for $AU69 and can be ordered with your Starlink kit as an add on.
  • Terrain and landscape such as trees and hills can affect signal reception, for those living in bushland Starlink provides a feature on their app so that customers can find the best spot for their Dishy. Starlink in their FAQ say: Download the Starlink app to assess the 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.

Consumer Information – Installation

  • The Starlink equipment is self-installed. When your equipment arrives, it comes with instructions on self-installing. A basic description of installation is: 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 its own placement and connect to the Starlink network.
  • The dish needs to be outside, it won’t work from inside a building, even with large windows.
  • The current Starlink configuration requires a 100-degree span to receive satellite signal, this may reduce in the future.
  • To assist with installation a cable routing kit is available in the Starlink store as an add on.
  • Currently Starlink only supports a self-install. If you wish to permanently mount your dish on your roof or on an alternative structure you need to ensure you use a registered Australian cabler to permanently install the equipment. Starlink are working with Australian stakeholders to look at the feasibility of using a professional installer, when needed.
  • If you come across any ‘cowboy re-sellers’ or ‘installers, Starlink are interested in your experience.
  • At this stage Starlink have no resellers and aren’t looking at engaging with any.

Consumer Information – Power Requirements

  • If you use solar power there is currently not a DC power supply for Starlink.
  • Starlink equipment comes with an Australian plug and can be directly used with Australian power points.
  • Starlink equipment can be run off a generator if it is a clean AC sinusoid.
  • Starlink power consumption in Australia is estimated to be 90 watt – 120 watt

Consumer Information – Starlink App

  • To download the Starlink app you will need to have a connection to enable the download, once installed the app will work without a connection to check your location and connect to your Starlink system. The app is only a bonus, it is not necessarily needed to get the service working.
  • From your mobile device, download the Starlink App using the appropriate link:

Consumer Information – Mobility

  • Currently the Starlink equipment will only work within your assigned cell (designated area). If you move it outside this area it will not work. The dish will be constrained by geometric geofencing. Starlink is working towards making a mobility product in the future, they hope it will be available by the end of 2021, early 2022.
  • Starlink representatives confirmed NSW Police are not (yet) testing the Starlink mobility product.

Consumer Information – Data

Consumer Information – Weather

  • The Starlink equipment is robust enough to handle some rain, snow and wind. However, it is recommended the equipment is moved inside during extreme weather events such as cyclones, very strong winds, large hail etc.
  • The best roof mount for high wind conditions is the volcano mount which is tested up to 75mph winds.
  • The outdoor Starlink dish operating temperature is -30 to +50 degrees C.
  • Unlike nbn satellite, Starlink doesn’t have different sized dishes for tropical areas. All Starlink dishes are the same.
  • Starlink should be capable of coping in bushfire, smoke and haze conditions.
  • Starlink have tested their equipment 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 melt-ability 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 50°C but the terminal is not certified to operate above 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 circumstances. Starlink will be monitoring services and how they perform in Australian weather conditions.

Consumer Information – Speed/Latency

  • There are no speed guarantees, users testing in Australia have seen speeds of 50mbps – 200mbps, with Starlink stating that more satellites can increase the speed up to 300mbps.
  • Latency maybe a bit higher, 20 – 40ms, sometimes more in Australia.  Starlink are interested to see performance in Australia.

Consumer Information – Support

  • Cannot login to your account? Go here and choose one of the options provided https://auth.starlink.com/forgot-password.
  • Support through the Starlink Portal will be for connection issues mainly, installation issues not so easy to offer support for.
  • Starlink Support based in the US, available 24 hours 7 days a week.
  • Support will be primarily online, create a ticket. Starlink may also have a phone service available after the beta phase. BIRRR noted that often people in regional Australia don’t have a backup internet service and will only have a landline available.
  • In the event of a hardware failure that requires replacement equipment shipping time is estimated to take 1-2 weeks.
  • Dishy takes 10 -15 minutes to power on, however local experience suggests as short as 5 minutes.
  • June 2021 – Will it Support a VOiP service? Starlink representatives were unable to confirm this, however Regional Tech Hub has trialled the service in day to day use for Voice/Video using MS Teams, which largely works fine but due to the windows of unavailability of satellites can be patchy during an Australian workday 8AM-6PM.
  • June 2021 – Static IP Aligning with commercial offerings, there are plans to have Static IP and other routing options available but it will take some time to develop, happy to take feedback on this topic. It will take some time, approximately in the 12 months time frame.
  • The Starlink app provides details on performance, including outages, obstructions, See below

  • Starlink are constantly monitoring and optimizing performance, and will be aware of any service degradation (even before the customer)

Consumer Information – General

  • If you move from your address you need to send the equipment back to Starlink, no answer on costs, The Starlink connection won’t work if you use it somewhere it is not registered.

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

Simulations of what the Starlink system may look like

Starlink.sx
Designed by Mike Puchol, who states this site is NOT affiliated with Starlink or SpaceX. Link is https://starlink.sx/

SatelliteMap.Space
This is not a resource affiliated in any way with SpaceX, Starlink, Tesla, Elon etc etc nor is it any official service. The data comes from public tracking data published at space-track.org. The calculations and visualization are best effort and you should not use it as authoritative. Link is https://satellitemap.space/

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.