Starlink internet has taken the market by storm. Demand currently outpaces supply with pre-orders more than a year out as of July 2022. For folks living in remote locations, Starlink is golden. For these individuals, Starlink is likely the only high speed internet service provider they have access to. They are also happy to pay the $110 per month that Starlink currently costs.
Starlink does however come with a few notable limitations. This is why I would not recommend most people switch to Starlink if they have access to cable or fiber internet. Cable and fiber internet are lightyears ahead of Starlink in terms of stable and reliable performance.
Another downside of Starlink is the use of carrier grade NAT (CGNAT). This means that all connections are going to be double NAT and port forwarding is not possible.
What is Carrier-Grade NAT (CGNAT)
Internet service providers like Starlink and most cellular internet service providers employ CGNAT to allow numerous users to share one public IP address. People can use the Internet without being delayed, thanks to this technique. Without CGNAT method, users would have to wait for other users to stop using the Internet for IP addresses to be available.
The reason for this IP address scarcity is that the current IPv4 address space only has about 4 billion IP addresses, and ISPs are exhausting their supply of addresses. The plan is to transition subscribers to IPv6 addresses. However, until then, some ISPs, including Starlink, have chosen to use the CGNAT technique to solve the IP address scarcity problem. Other internet services including most cable, DSL, or fiber plans come with a proper public IP address.
The abbreviation CGNAT stands for Carrier Grade Network Address Translation. It’s a method of dealing with IPv4 network design limitations. It’s sometimes also referred to as large-scale NAT (LSN). In this method, end sites, such as routers and home networks, are set up with private IP addresses that are then converted into public IP addresses via middlebox network address translators integrated into the network. As a result, IPV4’s limited 32-bit address space problem is resolved.
However, the shared nature of the public IP addresses makes this strategy ineffective. Incoming traffic is not allowed; hence the created IP addresses are only relevant for outgoing traffic.
CGNAT means that your internet connection will always be a double NAT connection.
What Does Double NAT Mean With Starlink
Double NAT is when you have 2 routers connected together both performing NAT. With Starlink CGNAT there is 2 layers of NAT. The first layer is on the Starlink network and the 2nd layer is on the customers router. Double NAT can have a few downsides, but will not impact the average home internet user.
Why is Double NAT Bad on Starlink
Double NAT can cause issues with any application that depends on UPnP to open ports within your network’s firewall. Double NAT can be a problem with online gaming services such as PlayStation Network (PSN) and Xbox Live.
Xbox Live is particularly sensitive to double NAT environments and will really struggle using Starlink. You will likely get a notification on your Xbox saying double NAT detected. Your NAT type will also be strict in most cases. This means that you can’t be the host in online multiplayer matches and certain chat features may not work properly.
PlayStation network will likely report a NAT type 3 when you are double natted, as with Starlink.
How to Fix Double NAT With Starlink
Starlink does not offer the option of a publicly routable IP address on their residential plans at this time. Starlink business plans do offer a public IP address. The most common solution to double NAT with Starlink is to use a VPN service which offers a static public IP address.
Then you can set your router up to use the VPN public WAN IP address as the WAN connection. This will bypass the CGNAT restrictions and fix your double NAT.
This is however a relatively complex solution to what should be a simple problem. This is one of several reasons that Starlink may not be the best choice if you have other options available to you.
Currently Starlink does not officially support IPv6. They do state that customers in some Starlink regions have limited access to experimental IPv6 support. These customers get their own /56 prefix which only works with a third party router.
The current Starlink router does not appear to have support for IPv6. Because IPv6 is still experimental for Starlink they will no provide support to customers for IPv6 related issues. Starlink also says that IPv6 support may change at anytime.
Starlink currently only offers CGNAT IP addresses on their residential service plans. This is not an issue for most internet users, but could be impactful to some. If you want a publicly routable IP address, Starlink is not the best option for you. If you have no other options available to you, using a VPN service can allow you to fix the double NAT issues that come with Starlink.
Can I Use My Own Router With Starlink
Yes you can use your own router with Starlink. However for the easiest setup you may want to use the included router. Using your own router is useful if you want to use features not included in the Starlink router. The Starlink router will be adequate for most people.
Will Starlink Replace Cable Internet
No it will not. Starlink and cable internet serve different market segments. Starlink is suitable for rural areas that lack the infrastructure to support cable internet. Urban and suburban areas are less suitable for Starlink due to its device density limitations. Cable and fiber are likely to be much faster anyways.
Is Starlink Good for Gaming
Starlink is much better for gaming than other satellite internet services. Starlink is not as good for gaming as a cable or fiber internet connection due to slightly higher latency and more frequent drops. Starlink will likely see its latency improve as more satellites are launched into low earth orbit. Starlink offers better gaming performance than 5G home internet plans from Verizon or T-Mobile.