Does Starlink Need a Modem

No, Starlink does not require the use of a modem. The satellite dish essentially communicates with the Starlink low earth orbit (LEO) satellites to provide internet access. The Starlink dish then gets connected to a wireless router to share the internet connection with all of your devices.

Most people opt to use the wireless router that is provided by Starlink. However if you wish to use a third party router with Starlink you can do that also. To use a third party router you will need to purchase the Starlink ethernet adaptor to connect it. You will then want to enable bypass (bridge) mode on you Starlink router. A modem is not used with Starlink internet.

Starlink internet Modem

About Starlink Internet

SpaceX Starlink officially exited its public beta testing program in October of 2021. Elon Musk’s much anticipated tech startup took the world by storm with it “Better Than Nothing” Beta launch. The launch was highly successful and Starlink is now available to the general public.

Starlink aims to provide high speed internet service that is available across the entire earth, including extreme rural areas that lack access to broadband presently. Currently SpaceX has about 2,300 low earth orbit (LEO) satellites in active service with plans to increase that number to up to 42,000 in the coming years.

Download and Upload Speeds

Starlink is currently is providing between 80 Mbps and 150 Mbps of download speed. This is significantly higher than many DSL plans, and other satellite internet providers which typically top out at about 20 Mbps. Real world speed tests have shown download speeds of about 100 Mbps being typical. Starlink says they these speeds to increase as more LEO satellites are launched into orbit. They also talk about the idea of offering gigabit speeds in coming years. 

Upload speeds are usually in the 20 Mbps – 30 Mbps range. This is comparable to many cable based internet connections, but much lower than typical for a fiber based connection. It is also 10 – 40 times as fast as DSL for uploads. 

Starlink Launch

Latency (Ping)

 Latency (ping) with Starlink is in the 30 – 50 ms which is similar to DSL and some underperforming cable internet connections. This is low enough for most online games to play smoothly and for real time VoIP applications. Starlink has a slightly higher ping than most fiber based internet connection and many cable based internet connections. That said even a 50 ms ping is more than acceptable to most users.  

Compared to legacy satellite internet service providers such as HughesNet or Viasat, this is truly revolutionary. Traditionally satellite internet had a minimum latency of at leas 500 ms.

Ping-Test

Conclusion

Starlink does not require the use of a modem. You will connect your Starlink terminal (dish) directly to your Starlink provided router. Then if you choose you can use the built in Wi-Fi or an ethernet adaptor to connect a 3rd party router or ethernet switch.

One additional thing to note is that Starlink does not offer publicly routable IP address to residential customers and instead relies on CGNAT technology. They also do not currently support IPv6.