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Low-earth orbit satellite broadband: The state of Starlink in 2022

Bowling Green, Kentucky (June 29, 2022) - Mid-Year LEO updates really come down to a discussion related to Starlink. Starlink’s competitors are estimated to be as much as 4-5 years behind. While there continue to be discussions about partnerships and launch dates, etc., we’re a long way from a commercial product. That said, let’s look at the state of Starlink mid-year.

Launches: SpaceX, Starlink’s parent company, continues to put rockets in the air, many of which are carrying Starlink satellites as a part of their payload. According to the SpaceX Launch page, there have been 14 Starlink missions since January.

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Defined Service Areas: At the end of March, Starlink made an availability map public on their website that shows locations currently eligible for service as well as locations where a consumer would need to wait longer for service. Reports from consumers show that, generally, if you live in one of the currently available areas, you could receive equipment and begin Starlink services. However, this site has caused some backlash as potential customers that had been on the waiting list have discovered that they are not likely to receive service anytime soon. Many of these wait-listed consumers have taken to social media to discuss their experience and frustrations.

Increased Cost: Starlink also announced an increase in equipment and subscription costs, counter to what most expected would happen with the service. Expectations were that the service would decrease in cost to the sub-$100 mark; however, the monthly cost has risen to $110 per month, and equipment costs went from $499 to $599. Starlink explained that they had to make these adjustments due to rising inflation and to right-size their costs.

Roaming: Starlink has also begun to allow its customers to take their service on the road with “Portability”. This $25 a month service allows a customer to take their services with them; think off grid remote work! Assuming service is available where you go, you can fire up your Starlink equipment and get right to work, so long as you’re on the same continent as your subscription location.

LEO Satellite Broadband service looks to be on the rise, becoming easier to access over time and as satellite launches continue. Cost will continue to be a point of discussion related to these services, as it does with nearly every other high-speed internet option. Competition in the space will likely help, but as was already mentioned, it may be years before meaningful competition exists.

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About the Author: Wes Kerr is the Connected Nation Director of Community Solutions. Wes helps ensure the implementation of Technology Action Plans developed for communities through Connected Nation’s Connected Community Engagement Program (Connectedsm) and works closely with clients and stakeholders to provide solutions that will help them meet their technology goals.