Starlink Revolution in Remote Australia

Elon Musk’s Starlink has reached Australia. Starlink is designed for the roughly 3 billion people worldwide who have limited or no internet, not for urban areas or those with high-speed access yet. Australians living in remote areas or black spots are some of the people already benefiting.

The stories of my early satellite involvement were for people out of town without ADSL available. They often had call access at 5-10 kbps over noisy old phone lines. They were thrilled when we showed up and delivered 256, then later 512 kbps download speed.

These were free systems from the federal government with generally low monthly fees. However, the plans were not big with peak/low time supplements. They looked like cloud patterning.

So Starlink is revolutionary!

SpaceX Starlink satellite broadband system renders National Broadband Network’s Sky Muster geostationary satellite internet system obsolete. Starlink offers a low latency connection (~40 milliseconds) and download speed around 200 Mbps with unlimited data.

This is not unusual for the Musk companies, as they regularly disrupt industries with their transformative new technologies.

We at Kansat have been involved in the installation of satellite broadband systems under several federal government schemes, such as the Higher Bandwidth Incentive Scheme and Broadband Connect, since the early 2000s.

Prior to these systems, only “one-way” satellite Internet existed via a small, receive-only dish and a dial-up modem or ISDN return channel. Even earlier, in the late 1990s, we installed several and used ourselves such a system called ZacNet, which involved reception from a Middle Eastern source on a geostationary satellite via a 2.3 meter C-band dish with dial-up modem return channel. This was super-speed internet at the time, receiving data at 400 kbps (0.4 Mbps)!

Until now, those living out of reach of fiber to the node or Fixed Wireless NBN had either NBN’s Sky Muster satellite or Telstra’s 4G, and occasionally Optus 4G if a usable signal reached them.

Sky Muster tops out at around 25Mbps download speed and is generally limited to around 200GB/month at a reasonable cost — however, more than 50% of data is allocated to off-peak times (ie 1am-7am). This means families often use peak data and are throttled to 256-512 kbps during peak times, including evening streaming. These plans can only cost marginally less than $139/month for unlimited Starlink service averaging 150-250 Mbps download/15 Mbps upload. Latency of Sky Muster systems is typically around 600-900 milliseconds, making it unusable for gaming.

Starlink speed test

Typical Starlink speed test. Photo courtesy of Gary Salisbury.

The Starlink kit costs around AUD 900 which is paid for on signup on the Starlink website and then delivered within a week at the moment. The antenna is a 600mm x 300mm motorized panel antenna supplied with 22 meters of cable with proprietary connectors. The system will plug & play. However, the supplied bracket is not suitable for our climate or roof construction, so my company Kansat installs them professionally on a cyclone rated roof bracket.

Starlink dish Kansat

Starlink dish installed by Kansat. Photo courtesy of Gary Salisbury

The included router is dual-band WiFi only. However, we can supply a Starlink ethernet adapter to our customers who need that feature. Or these can be purchased from Starlink.

I have been using Starlink since March this year and can vouch for reliability even through torrential rain. More customer feedback:

“Millions are not connected to the internet – we’re happy to say we’re no longer among them. Starlink, blazing fast and online in minutes, ends a six-year journey.” —Neil V. from New South Wales Australia

We expect to join Gary and Neil soon.

Featured image courtesy of Starlink


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