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21 June, 2024

$600 SpaceX Starlink internet dish 'surprisingly good' despite outages

According to RebelRoam's Tarvo Topolev who took the dish on a Greek sailing vacation

Source: Insider

Starlink, SpaceX's satellite internet service, is becoming increasingly popular across the world — so much so that some users have even taken it on vacation.

One user told Insider that he strapped the Starlink equipment to a yacht and sailed around the Greek islands for a week to test how the service fared at sea.

Tarvo Topolev is the cofounder of RebelRoam, an Estonian company that provides passenger WiFi on public transport such as buses, trains and cruise ships. He said he ordered Starlink in July and received the kit, comprising a dish, WiFi router, and a tripod, a week later.

Topolev opted for Starlink's RV package, costing about $600 because RebelRoam wanted to test its service in different locations.

As part of a team event, Topolev said nine employees, including himself, traveled with the Starlink kit to Athens.

They then hopped on a yacht, attached the Starlink dish to a pole and sailed between the islands of Kea, Mykonos, Syros, and Kythnos, testing the network for a week.

Map where RebelRoam traveled with Starlink dish.

They combined Starlink's service with cellular connectivity and compared the two while using social media, Google maps, and video streaming. The outcome? Starlink and cellular complimented each other, according to Topolev.

Starlink suffered outages when it was surrounded by other boats' masts or when the yacht made sharp turns, but worked well at sea, whereas cellular connectivity dropped out when the boat was far from the shore, Topolev said.

"It was surprisingly good," he said. "There were some outages and sometimes we had to manually reboot it ... but basically it worked ... almost all the time."

Topolev said cruise ships use a combination of WiFi and cellular to provide internet connection, meaning Starlink would be a useful and much cheaper option.

"We see it's a very good solution because big cruise ships are using geostationary satellites, which have a huge latency and it's ridiculously expensive for the speeds that they're getting," Topolev said.

Their testing comes as Royal Caribbean announces plans to launch Starlink on all its cruise ships. The company will be the first in the industry to install the Starlink on its entire fleet.

Meanwhile, RebelRoam will continue to test Starlink to see how well it would work for its customers, Topolev said.

"They have a good business case and we see that it will be used a lot, especially in areas where there are no other ways to have connectivity," he said.

Starlink has more than 2,500 satellites in low Earth orbit with a user base of more than 400,000 subscribers across the world.

Cyprus  |  Greece  |  Musk  |  Starlink

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