3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Wait Around for Starlink Internet
Elon Musk – whether you love him or hate him, people sit up and pay attention when he moves into a new industry. From self-driving cars to space exploration, the man knows how to shake things up, and his recent foray into broadband internet is no exception.
Starlink Internet is a satellite-based internet, but it differs from traditional satellites by orbiting closer to earth. With a “constellation” of 30,000 satellites spread across the globe, Musk hopes to provide high-speed internet to even the most rural and remote corners of the planet. Consumer beta tests are underway in Canada, and the hype has leaders in municipalities wondering: Do we really need to invest in our own fibre network? Can’t we just wait for Starlink instead?
In today’s blog, we want to compare the online experiences provided by Starlink Internet and fibre internet. In comparing key differences, we find that while Starlink has a time and a place, most people will still want fibre internet as soon as possible.
But First – A Disclaimer
Before we get into the reasons you shouldn’t wait around for Starlink Internet, we want to be clear that we aren’t anti-Starlink or even anti-satellite internet.
First and foremost, we want every Canadian to have the internet connection they need to work, learn, use telehealth technologies, and more. Especially in the wake of COVID-19, reliable at-home internet is a necessity. If Starlink is currently your best available internet option (and you can afford it), by all means, get Starlink!
However, we hope this blog will help you consider the long-term advantages of a fibre connection. Instead of waiting around for Starlink Internet to deliver a permanent solution, there are three key reasons to explore the possibility of bringing fibre to your community.
Reason #1: Fibre Provides More Reliable Internet Than Starlink
A reliable internet connection keeps you online even in bad storms or at peak usage hours. If you’re primarily using the internet for checking emails or streaming content, minor blips in your service may go unnoticed or simply cause a minor inconvenience.
However, with many modern internet usages (especially following COVID-19), an unreliable connection can be just as frustrating as not having one at all. With even short interruptions to your connection, online meetings, live-streamed classes, video calls with loved ones, and telehealth calls with a doctor come to a sudden halt. Now and into the future, we’ll continue to see increased dependence on the internet for real-time connections with others. You need not just fast but also reliable internet to use those technologies.
When it comes to reliability, fibre networks remain unmatched. If you’ve ever had a satellite phone or TV, you know how poor weather or signal obstructions can quickly make those technologies frustrating or impossible to use. Starlink Internet may use low-orbit satellites, but they’re still satellites, and they’re still susceptible to interference.
Fibre networks, on the other hand, are highly resistant to weather and interference. With a fibre connection, you can have complete confidence that your internet will work when you need it to – for your big meeting, important lecture, long-distance holiday call, or critical appointment with your doctor.
Plus, fibre networks are reliable for decades. Your community could build a fibre network within 2-4 years and have weather-proof, reliable technology for 30-50 years or more with little ongoing maintenance required. With fibre, you won’t have to hope Elon Musk’s team keeps tens of thousands of satellites in tip-top shape or replaces them promptly. You won’t have to worry that your signal will go out at a critical moment. Your family will always have the internet they need when they need it for decades to come.
Reason #2: Fibre Guarantees Faster Speeds than Starlink
Internet service providers spend so much time advertising based on speeds that we can lose sight of what that even means. Speeds are best understood as capacity. The higher your speeds, the more you can do online (and the more you can do online simultaneously).
In Canada, the CRTC recommends minimum speeds of 50/10 Mbps. That means 50 Mbps of download speed and 10 Mbps of upload speed. Many argue that those speeds are already outdated. As technology advances, so do the demands for more speed or capacity. Most experts agree that “gig internet” (1,000 Mbps each for uploading and downloading) is a far better speed goal. Those speeds allow you to take advantage of today’s best technologies and will ensure you can continue to do so as tech develops.
According to speedtest.net, Starlink’s beta users are experiencing an average of 80.67/17.17 Mbps. While this certainly outperforms the 25 Mbps traditional satellites provide, it’s only a fraction of the gig internet made possible by fibre. It’s also worth noting that these are the speeds beta users are experiencing. It remains to be seen how adding millions of users at peak usage hours might affect the experience. With other satellite technology and even cable technologies, you’ll see a severe drop in performance when too many people are online at once. Will the same problems plague Starlink users? Only time and growth will tell.
With fibre, however, there are no unknowns. If your community builds a fibre network, you’ll enjoy the high speeds you need, even if everyone in your community is online at once. Again, you’ll have peace of mind that your internet connection will keep you connected for decades, no matter what happens as Starlink Internet adds hundreds of thousands or even millions of users!
Reason #3: Fibre Is a More Accessible, Affordable Service than Starlink
We could go on and on about the speed and reliability of a particular internet service, but at the end of the day, if you can’t afford to get that service, it doesn’t matter how it performs. There’s already a digital divide between those who can and cannot get internet, and we don’t want to make it worse. We want marginalized people to have equal access to the educational, employment, and healthcare opportunities they need most. Affordable internet plays a key role in that.
Starlink Internet subscribers are currently paying $800 CAD upfront and $120 CAD monthly – all for 50/10 Mbps of internet. If your rural municipality builds a fibre network, you could get at least three times those speeds with lower upfront costs (or none at all) and lower monthly fees, typically about $99 CAD a month.
Plus, if your community owns the network, you have the flexibility to create solutions and programs to make it accessible for everyone in your community. This raises another critical point: Starlink Internet will be a helpful solution for some individuals, but it’s not a community-focused solution.
Bonus Reason: Communities Thrive on Fibre
Fibre can provide you with faster, more reliable, more affordable internet than satellite internet for decades to come, but that’s only part of this story. Beyond the connection you enjoy in your home, it’s also important to consider what’s best for your community as a whole. Community-owned fibre networks do far more than connect your home to the internet – they help rural communities thrive in every way.
Whether you get Starlink Internet or not, we hope you’ll consider the long-term benefits of fibre for your family and your community. If you’d like to learn more about bringing fibre to your community, we’re here for you. Simply click on the link below to schedule your free consultation today.