If your business is looking for an internet service provider (ISP), you may be intrigued by Starlink Business.
Starlink provides broadband internet via a constellation of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. While it offers satellite internet connectivity to everyday consumers, it also offers a business package as an alternative to traditional broadband ISPs. But is Starlink the right choice for your business?
In this guide, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about Starlink for enterprise businesses. We’ll provide an overview of its tech, expected costs, and projected availability. We’ll also explore some potential advantages and disadvantages of partnering with Starlink Business to help you decide whether or not they’re the ISP for you.
What Is Starlink? An Overview
Though the program didn’t have a name yet, SpaceX (Elon Musk’s pioneering brand) first announced the Starlink concept in 2015. The brand delivers internet services via over 3,000 (as of November 2022) LEO satellites, and its constellation is only growing.
Let’s break down some key information about Starlink’s technology, services, pricing and availability.
Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites are one of the various satellite types currently orbiting the planet. LEO satellites:
- Orbit at altitudes between 160 and 1,000 km/99 and 621 miles from Earth’s surface
- Are typically used for imaging (but they’re growing more popular for communications)
- Can usually only be seen for a few minutes at a time from Earth’s surface
The International Space Station (ISS) is one of the most well-known LEO satellites in orbit today.
In the past, LEO satellites were primarily used for high-resolution imaging from space. However, satellites must make visual contact with a stationary ground antenna to transmit data to Earth. So, a traditional imaging LEO satellite may only make contact with the ground once each day.
Since they’re relatively close to the ground (compared to other satellites), LEO satellites weren’t commonly used for internet connectivity until recently. They cover a relatively small surface area and only briefly appear in stationary antennas’ visual fields.
But Starlink avoids some of these LEO shortcomings by using a network of satellites instead of just a few. Eventually, the brand hopes to have as many as 42,000 operational satellites in the air.
Starlink vs. Broadband
How is Starlink different from broadband?
Broadband internet uses a variety of high-speed transmission technologies to send signals throughout the globe:
- Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) or copper telephone cables
- Cable modems or hardware connected to coaxial cables
- Fiber optic cables
- Wireless radio hubs, antennas and signals
- Broadband over Powerline (BPL)
So, satellite internet (like Starlink) is a type of broadband. But your current ISP likely uses a combination of wireless radio technologies and cable connections to provide internet access to your business. Other satellite ISPs exist (like HughesNet and ViaSat), but these typically use geostationary equatorial orbit (GEO) satellites instead of LEO satellites. Unlike LEO satellites, GEO satellites reside in a high, geosynchronous orbit with Earth to stay in constant visual contact with ground antennas.
Startup and Monthly Costs
According to Starlink’s website, businesses can expect to incur two distinct costs during setup and service:
- A one-time hardware cost of $2,500
- A $500 monthly service fee
The brand also advertises that you can expect download speeds up to 350 Mbps and latency of 20-40 ms—highly competitive rates in the current market. And, while the price may seem steep, Starlink’s primary selling points are reliability and remote access.
Reliability is a significant boost for some businesses. Terrestrial technologies can fail in severe weather, but satellites aren’t subject to atmospheric weather events.
In addition, most ISPs rely upon physical infrastructure, which isn’t feasible to install or maintain in some rural areas, remote areas, or rugged terrain. Since Starlink isn’t laying miles of underground cables, their connections will reach just about any location.
Let’s focus on the last note in the section above—geographical availability. Starlink is currently available in:
- Much of North America and Hawaii
- The West, Midwest and Southeast don’t have coverage as of January 2023
- Limited areas in South America
- Colombia, Brazil and Chile currently have coverage
- Some of the Caribbean islands
- Much of Europe
- Service is currently unavailable in Serbia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina
- The vast majority of Australia and New Zealand
- Réunion Island
While Starlink is ever-expanding, the brand has a long way to go in its pursuit of worldwide coverage.
Why Choose Starlink for Your Business?
Is Starlink Business right for you? Based on the information above, let’s break down some potential advantages and disadvantages of using it as your ISP.
Advantages of Choosing Starlink
Starlink certainly offers advantages for businesses looking for an innovative ISP:
- Speed – Starlink’s connections are fast and feature low latency compared to their competition. Plus, speeds and latency will only improve as the brand adds additional satellites. Businesses that only have access to satellite internet service could experience speeds on par with (or above) terrestrial broadband.
- Reliability – If your business internet connection has ever failed during a major storm, the thought of a satellite-based solution is likely appealing. While no internet solution is fail-proof, satellite hardware is much more difficult to stymie than underground cables or terrestrial hubs.
- Coverage – While Starlink’s current coverage map isn’t globally comprehensive, it will be if all goes to plan. Starlink plans to invest heavily in coverage in 2023 and 2024, and the waitlist is already open in many locations. If your business has offices in a remote place or you rely on international communications, it might be an appealing option.
- Price – Considering the current speeds and latency and the promises of additional coverage and reliability, Starlink is relatively competitively priced.
Depending on your location and your needs, Starlink may already be an excellent ISP option for your business. Starlink’s customers have much to look forward to as the brand launches more satellites.
Disadvantages of Using Starlink
As of January 2023, there are certainly some potential drawbacks to using Starlink as your sole ISP:
- The waitlist – Starlink may not yet be available in your specific locale. But if coverage is coming to your area soon, you may have to contend with a waitlist. In the meantime, you’ll need to secure coverage elsewhere.
- Coverage – If you have one office in New York City and another in Los Angeles, you’ll currently only be able to connect to Starlink from New York. If you want to use the same ISP throughout your offices, you may need to wait until Starlink increases its coverage area.
- Redundancy – If you’re interested in switching ISPs to secure greater reliability, Starlink is a good choice. But fail-proof solutions require redundancy—backups that kick in when the primary solution fails. Until Starlink launches tens of thousands more satellites, you may not get the level of redundancy that can completely prevent most outages.
Stay Connected with FUSION
Starlink for enterprise shows immense promise as an ISP for business. But the service still has some major mountains to climb regarding coverage and redundancy.
Luckily, there’s an alternative for enterprise businesses who rely on constant internet access: FUSION from IP Access International. FUSION is a network of networks combining the power of cellular and satellite infrastructure (including Starlink’s constellation of LEO satellites). It’s the internet solution for businesses that can’t afford to be off the grid.
FUSION offers the highest available internet speeds on today’s market, the best quality connections, one service bill, and a hassle-free ISP experience. So if you’re looking to embrace the future of Starlink’s satellite network with redundancy security, contact us to explore FUSION and other enterprise business connectivity solutions.