Starlink internet service is proving to be hugely popular, especially in rural areas that lack access to traditional broadband internet. The idea of being able to get fast and reliable internet anywhere with a view of the sky is amazing.
Whether you are a digital nomad frustrated with data caps on cellular plans, homesteaders that live off the grid, or simply looking for an alternative to your local internet service provider, the concept of broadband from space is really intriguing. Elon Musk, SpaceX, and Starlink have brought satellite internet into the modern era. Starlink is able to deliver download speeds of 100 Mbps or more along with latency of 75 milliseconds or less.
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Is Starlink Really That Expensive
Currently, Starlink Internet Service costs $90 per month or $120 per month, depending on your location. Starlink charges a higher rate in areas that are already at or above network capacity. The lower $90 per month price is for any service areas that are below capacity.
This could be anywhere, but rural areas are more likely to be under capacity. This is good news when you consider that Starlink is best suited to providing rural broadband anyways.
Starlink requires you to pay an equipment fee of $599 upfront for the Starlink dish (terminal) and other required equipment. The upfront cost is similar to the $450 charged by HughesNet, a legacy satellite internet service provider but high when compared to traditional broadband services that often have no upfront equipment charge.
Starlink Pricing vs Other Internet Service Providers
$90 – $120 per month is on the pricy side compared to most cable / DSL / fiber internet options. However, when compared to other satellite internet services, prices are actually relatively attractive, especially given the generous 1 TB priority data that you get with Starlink.
Many other satellite-based ISPs have data caps of 100 GB or less and charge the same amount of money as Starlink.
Note that when you exceed the 1 TB cap, you do not get charged extra. You simply have your traffic deprioritized to the same level as Starlink Roam subscribers. Starlink Roam is the new name for what was previously called Starlink for RVs.
|Typical Price Per Month
|Typical Download Speeds
|Typical Data Cap
|$90 – $120
|30 Mbps – 110 Mbps
|15 Mbps – 25 Mbps
|15 GB – 100 GB
|$50 – $200
|12 Mbps – 100 Mbps
|40 GB – 500 GB
|$30 – $120
|200 Mbps – 2,000 Mbps
|1.2 TB or Unlimited
|$25 – $90
|300 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps
Why is Starlink so Expensive
Starlink is relatively expensive for a few key reasons.
- Captive Market
- Supply vs Demand for Starlink
- Expensive Nature of Space Launches
Starlink is primarily intended for people who lack access to traditional broadband internet. Starlink has stated multiple times that they do not intend to compete with Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon in urban areas.
The Starlink technology is not suitable for having that many people connecting to a single Starlink Service Cell. Starlink is about providing fast and reliable internet to underserved markets. Given that the majority of Starlink’s intended customer base lacks access to traditional broadband, many would be delighted to pay $90 – $120 per month for fast and reliable internet.
There are millions of people in the United States alone that lack access to traditional broadband service, not to mention many times more people across the world. What someone is willing to pay largely depends on what options are available to them.
As an example: “Nobody would be willing to pay $5 for a soda or $8 for a popcorn bag at the supermarket. Take the same soda and popcorn and move it inside a movie theater, and suddenly people are willing to buy the soda and popcorn. The same thing can be said about Starlink. If you have access to fast and reliable internet that costs you $60 per month, you would likely not consider switching to Starlink.
If you currently have no options other than traditional satellite internet with its poor performance and low data caps, or a local telco provider that offers 5 Mbps DSL service for $80 per month, Starlink looks pretty attractive at $90 – $120 per month. Starlink’s business model is focused around servicing markets that are simply too remote to make wired options cost-effective.
Supply vs Demand for Starlink
Starlink currently has a waitlist of over a year to sign up for service. Given that demand is severely outpacing supply for Starlink at the present moment, it would not make financial sense to lower the price.
Economic forces work to find an equilibrium price where demand matches supply. As of March 2023, this equilibrium price is actually much higher than what is being charged.
As stated above, millions of people lack access to proper high-speed internet. Out of these millions of people, a good percentage is willing to pay through the roof if that is what it takes to get fast and reliable internet at their home.
Starlink has no financial incentive to lower the price of its internet service at the present moment. That could change over time as supply ramps up, and demand starts to get met or if a competing service was to launch.
In all likelihood, the price of Starlink will be well below market equilibrium for years, and the chance of seeing a price drop is slim. Prices for Starlink are actually artificially low when compared to the prices that the market will support at this time and the company could charge more if they wanted to.
Expensive Nature of Starlink Satellite Launches
A SpaceX Starlink launch has an operational cost of about 28 million dollars, a Falcon 9 rocket can easily cost 60 million dollars, and a single Starlink satellite can cost over $250,000.
As of January 22. 2022 SpaceX has launched nearly 2,000 Starlink satellites into low earth orbit (LEO). Given the expensive nature of launching satellites into orbit, Starlink estimates that completing the satellite constellation could easily cost 30 billion dollars or more.
Starlink is continually launching new satellites from earth to expand the coverage of Starlink. The total number of planned satellites is mind-boggling.
There are also costs associated with building the ground stations all over the earth required to provide signals up to the satellites. This is another huge cost that is often overlooked when talking about Starlink.
Given the high capital costs associated with the Starlink project, SpaceX needs to focus its attention on bringing in as much revenue from the service as possible. Overall, prices of $90 – $120 per month are an incredible value when you realize what is going into the project to make service possible.
Is Starlink Worth it
After reading this, you may be wondering if Starlink is right for you. Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself if you are unsure.
- Do I Currently Have Fast and Reliable Internet at Home?
- Am I Currently Paying Less Than $90 – $120 per Month for Internet?
- Do I Have Access to Cable or Fiber Internet at Home?
If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, you might want to consider Starlink Internet Service. If you answered “yes” to all of the questions, Starlink might not be the best choice for you at this time.
You likely have nothing to gain from making the switch. In fact, you probably have a lot to lose by switching. Starlink is not nearly as fast and reliable as cable or fiber internet.
According to many Starlink customers on Reddit and other forums, there are still some brief interruptions in service that occur regularly. A few customers noted that Starlink drops made gaming on Starlink difficult. If you can get cable or fiber in your area, opt for that over Starlink. However, if Starlink is the best service available in your area, it is a great option.
Why is Starlink Internet Important
According to an FCC report, 4.4 million people lack high-speed internet service. This number is even higher internationally. Globally, millions of people don’t have access to the internet due to a lack of infrastructure. Many rural areas, as well as some entire countries, have no fiber backbones to support broadband internet.
Starlink is unique in that it uses low earth orbit satellites to provide coverage to areas that do the have traditional broadband infrastructure.
Conclusion: Is Starlink Too Expensive
Depending on your situation, Starlink may be a great option for you and well worth paying $90 – $120 per month. For many others, it is not going to make sense to switch to Starlink at the present time.
Traditional broadband services from internet providers such as Comcast, Verizon, and Spectrum offer reliable service with speeds several times faster than Starlink for a lower monthly cost.
If you have access to one of these services, or a local provider offering similar services, stay out of the Starlink line, as you will be much better served with a cable or fiber-based internet connection.
If you do not have access to traditional broadband internet, Elon Musk might be the answer with Starlink Internet Service. Many customers would happily pay $90 -$120 monthly for fast internet. Other customers find the pricing a little steep. Is Starlink too expensive? Only you can decide what is a good value to you.