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.
- 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.
- During Beta testing, Starlink will restrict the number of users in each ‘cell’, until there are more satellites launched and therefore more capacity. There are cells, in Australia, that are currently full. Cell capacity restrictions are to ensure that service quality is maintained. As further satellites are launched restrictions can be eased.
- Note this tweet from Elon Musk
- 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). If Starlink is available in your cell, then you will be asked to pay the full amount.
- 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
- Orders have been affected by supply chain shortages due to material availability and COVID, and some areas in Australia require further developments before services can be activated
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.
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 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.
- Can we expect further improvement in the periodicity of (non-weather induced) short outages and will they be eliminated entirely? Currently the Starlink and Premium offers only two nines service availability, or 14.4 minutes down per day. See https://www.starlink.com/account/legal/documents/DOC-1002-69942-69?regionCode=US
Starlink is confident of further improvements. Software is continually improved, and additional satellites will both improve availability. Starlink is aiming high.
- For those with zero obstructions, what is the cause of dropouts? Are there insufficient satellites at the moment? Note: Excluding software updates (which occur in the wee small hours), a number of daytime outages are logged as network issues?
- 70Km/hr winds may push the servo motors off track causing interruption. Is this a weakness? Secondary question, is a lower cost manually pointed ‘fixed dish’ possible?
Starlink had not heard reports of wind causing outages but were grateful for the feed-back and will relay to the hardware team.
- Why are speeds so variable?
Starlink is aware of variable speeds and the current greatest concern is for speeds that drop below 100Mbps, this should be reported via the app.
- Concern about Dishy’s ability to handle temps above 50 degrees. Starlink has not heard reports to date of heat related failure in Australia. Starlink is continuously seeking design improvements to further strengthen the product.
Starlink rollout plan for Australia
Starlink will be activated in geographical areas across Australia, with each cell being activated one by one.
As at February 2022 Starlink stated:
- They are gradually moving up the coastlines.
- More remote areas of Australia will need the laser linked satellites before they can be serviced perhaps by the end of 2022.
- Starlink would not be drawn on the question of serviceable latitude limits, i.e. as we move further north are there sufficient satellites to deliver a stable service?
Whilst the current coverage is welcomed, it appears that some adjacent cells are slow to activate. Why? Starlink said – A current shortage of customer equipment is the primary reason for lack of service in serviceable adjacent cells.
Earth/Ground stations in Australia
- At this stage, there are 20 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, Mountview Drive, TOONPAN QLD, Willows Siding Road, WILLOWS 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 Coolgardie WA, A proposed gateway is also at Boodarie (near Port Hedland) in the Pilbara
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 $AU924 hardware fee (plus $AU115 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.
- Starlink are now sending the new versions to Australia (as of 19 Feb 2022) The new kit has no ethernet ports, but you can buy an adapter from the Starlink shop.
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.
- Can I use a network switch with Starlink?
Yes, you are welcome to connect your own equipment to Starlink. However, we cannot guarantee Starlink performance or compatibility with third party networking devices.
For customers with a circular Starlink, connect the network switch via the AUX port on the Starlink router or third party router LAN port. We do not recommend or support placing network switches between the power supply and the router. Do not connect the switch to the white port on the power supply.
For customers with the rectangular Starlink, a Starlink ethernet adapter is required to connect a network switch. Do not enable bypass mode. Bypass mode is designed to support third party routers and will only provide one IP address. See https://support.starlink.com/topic?category=25 for more information.
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.
- Starlink representatives confirmed NSW Police are not (yet) testing the Starlink mobility product.
- Feb 2022. Any news on the Starlink mobility product? Starlink have two products – Starlink portable (‘sto and go’) and Starlink mobile – portable will be available before the mobile and is coming in the near future, after the laser linked satellites are enabled.
Consumer Information – Data
- Starlink hopes with more satellites being launched they will be able to continue to offer unlimited data past the Beta stage.
- Starlink does not do traffic prioritization – eg video has less priority than web browsing
- Starlink does not shape traffic if you use too much data, not yet anyway. Starlink try to 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 )
- Starlink will restrict the number of users in a particular cell. Starlink cells are indicated here https://sebsebmc.github.io/starlink-coverage/index.html
- Starlink service availability is planned to be 99% There will be some periods of downtime.
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. Go here to see all the support FAQ – https://support.starlink.com/
- What are the Starlink support hours for Australians? Support is 24/7 however support timeframes have recently been affected by COVID and holidays.
- Is Australian based support, logistics, or alternate contact methods planned? No, Starlink Support based in the US, available 24 hours 7 days a week.
- 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.
- The Starlink FAQ answers a lot of your questions – see https://support.starlink.com/ These are the current support topics
- 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.
- When will Australia get the new version of dishy’s/antennas. These will be available in Australia soon
- A big one for many customers is an external IP, ideally static but even dynamic would be workable. When will this be available; as indicated by the Starlink website. This is planned to be available in the near future. No promises but perhaps 6 months? An IP solution will be delivered for both Starlink and Premium services i.e. for all customers.
- Laser linked constellations? End of the year 2022
- Are all cells currently active in New Zealand? Service is open in NZ
- Can you sell dishy and relocate it to an active cell with a new account owner? What are the limitations? How to do it? Not at this stage. Moving in between cells Starlink says is a one change only procedure and no guarantee you can move back. They won’t hold a place for you in a cell and discourage movement between cells.
What are Angel Projects (April 2021)
Angel Projects are for people in need with Schools/Education Internet requirements.
- Starlink Premium https://www.starlink.com/premium – this product is designed for businesses.
- The new antenna (dish) is twice the area of the standard Starlink phased array with broader scan angle. Unlimited download (150-500Mbps) and upload (20-40Mbps). Deposit US$500, hardware US$2,500, service US$500/mth, 24hr support and 99% availability.
- When will Premium be available in Australia? In the future, yes
What will the costs be? Same costs worldwide, so whatever is in US$ convert to AUS$
Will Starlink Premium offer a static IP? Eventually yes
Simulations of what the Starlink system may look like
Designed by Mike Puchol, who states this site is NOT affiliated with Starlink or SpaceX. Link is https://starlink.sx/
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/
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.