It is no secret that Starlink comes at a premium price. For users who can take full advantage of the unique and innovative perks, such as people who reside in areas with poor land-based broadband infrastructure or people who want a portable broadband service to take on the road with them, the premium is justifiable, but can the average internet user justify the cost as easily?
As everyone’s connectivity needs and budgets vary, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question is Starlink worth it. Therefore, it is important to weigh up your current needs and assess if traditional broadband packages can meet them in a more cost-effective manner rather than be swayed by the novelty of a broadband service that transmits from a satellite constellation in Lower Earth Orbit.
For many people living in remote areas, Starlink broadband is the only available option; it was originally touted as the holy grail for rural residents looking for reliable broadband access, but that hasn’t impeded the attraction to inner-city consumers drawn in by the advanced technology that allows Starlink to provide almost global broadband coverage.
This article will impartially answer the question, is Starlink worth it, with a view into the price, the broadband speeds, the additional Starlink services that traditional internet service providers struggle to offer and the current limitations to the service.
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Is Starlink Worth It?
If you look at the official Starlink website, you will see that Elon Musk promises Starlink broadband members the moon on a stick, but recent field tests have proven that the service isn’t quite what it is cracked up to be and the speeds are far lower than the advertised average.
For Starlink users who see money as no object, the high-performance hardware option provides the ultimate performance boost; however, the higher-performance hardware will set you back £2,410.
Starlink is always making advances in its services, but as the company doesn’t have the same competition as some of the other major tech companies, given that it is a one-of-a-kind service, the service provider has grown somewhat complacent in improving glitches, high latency, unreliable connectivity and lagging download speeds for some consumers.
Starlink Pros and Cons
As the constellation of 4,000 Starlink satellites in Lower Earth Orbit is far closer to Earth than the satellites from traditional internet service providers, the latency is much lower, meaning it takes less time for data to travel from the sender to the receiver. For example, for gamers, 100ms is acceptable, whereas 20ms – 40ms is considered optimal.
Starlink is able to offer its residential and business users a latency speed of 20ms – 50ms, whereas the fastest fibre-optic speeds from traditional internet service providers can only go as low as 30ms.
Expanding Global Coverage
Starlink has been available, and for the most part successfully operating, in the UK since 2021. In 2023, there is high coverage in all parts of the UK, with the exception of the Northernmost parts of Scotland. To check if there is Starlink coverage in your area, use the Starlink availability map, which will also give you a good idea of the speeds you can expect if you invest in the service.
As Starlink is continuously adding to its satellite constellation in Lower Earth Orbit, more and more remote places will start to benefit from coverage. Currently, there are approximately 4,000 Starlink satellites in space; however, SpaceX plans on growing its constellation size until there are 42,000 satellites in Lower Earth Orbit.
Connectivity for rural areas
Starlink enables previously unconnected areas or “blackspots” to gain access to super fast internet speeds which can be a huge benefit to some people’s lives.
Rental options for Starlink
You can now rent the Starlink hardware to save on the upfront costs of purchasing the hardware. This allows for more people to access Starlink at a more reasonable cost.
High Monthly Fees & Set Up Costs
For most households, the average price of basic broadband comes in at around £28.33 per month, rising to £39.75 for superfast fibre connections (30 Mbps), and £61.90 for ultra-fast connections, which provide 300 Mbps+ in good connection areas. However, even the big internet service providers still leave rural and poor connection areas with slow speeds of below 50mbps.
The standard Starlink monthly fee may only be marginally higher than the cost of ultra-fast connections; however, recent field tests have proven that it sometimes pales in comparison when it comes to download speeds provided by Sky Ultrafast+ and BT Full Fibre. So for users paying the Starlink premium, that doesn’t always mean that a premium service will be provided. In May 2023, Ookla conducted a field test on Starlink’s UK services and found that the average user had an average download speed of 66 Mbps and an upload speed of 8 Mbps, which is far from ideal for online gamers, live streamers and people wanting a reliable broadband service to make video calls with at peak times.
However, at non-peak times Starlink can and does provide speeds of above 200 Mbps.
The Ookla test doesn’t take into account an individual’s Starlink installation setup. For example, you can get poorer speeds if the hardware hasn’t been set up correctly or you are far away from the router without a mesh network setup in your home.
Furthermore, unlike Starlink, many traditional broadband services do not require an upfront fee; in many deals, all of the hardware and installation come with zero cost to the consumer; this is how the different internet service providers stay in competition with each other. As we referenced before, with Starlink, there is zero like-for-like competition with the services they provide.
Poor Customer Service
With many traditional internet service providers, there is the option of picking up the phone and talking to the customer care team or contacting them around the clock via a live chat service. With Starlink, you may be waiting for weeks before you receive a response to a query.
At the time of writing, the only way to contact the customer care team with technical difficulties or billing enquiries is by raising a ticket by filling out the online contact form. It is no wonder that Starlink’s customer service department currently has a poor reputation.
The inability to easily contact the customer care team is one of the main reasons why Starlink is only recommended to tech-savvy users who can independently manage and maintain the service or find resolutions to issues by visiting the Starlink FAQ pages and forums, such as Reddit.
To contact customer support at Starlink the easiest way is through the Starlink app.
Is Starlink Worth the Price Tag?
To get started with Starlink, residential users will need to purchase the Starlink hardware package for £460 or rent the hardware for £15 a month. The standard kit is recommended for the average user looking to make video calls, stream TV shows, and enjoy online gaming sessions.
For users who put greater demands on their broadband, such as those using their broadband to power enterprise applications, there is also the option of high-performance hardware, which comes with a £2,410 price tag. Users willing to pay extra will benefit from 3x faster speeds – regardless of extreme weather conditions.
Once the hardware has been purchased, the minimum monthly cost is £75, increasing to £975, depending on your needs. Amongst the most popular add-on services is the portability add-on, which will allow UK customers to take their Starlink dish and router on the road with them.
Read more about Starlink costs in our Starlink UK price guide.
Starlink promises a greater service once the optimal number of satellites in space have been achieved. However, as recent field tests have proven, increasing demand for the service has resulted in slower download and upload speeds at peak times, which is to be expected. For users in areas with existing broadband infrastructures, it may be worth holding off on investing in the satellite-based internet service provider, at least until some of the current issues are ironed out. However, Starlink is an absolute game changer for people who live in rural areas or who have to live with bad connectivity.
Our opinion is that Starlink is worth it, if you can deal with the teething problems of a new and innovative internet solution. With good coverage across the UK and fast internet speeds, it’s a great solution for many people and in the not-too-distant future, will most likely be one of the most popular internet service providers in the UK.