Starlink FAQ Image

Starlink FAQ

Starlink FAQ, Updated 10/3/22

 What is the purpose of this Starlink FAQ?
-This FAQ is written to assist potential Starlink Yachting clients, with the details that are not readily available from Starlink. Marine Data Solutions is your mobile internet provider for our Yachting clients, we want you to have the details that will help you make the best purchasing and upgrading decisions. Starlink is a great system but it does have limitations that you should be aware of, before making your decisions.
Click here to request a price list.

⭐ What are the latest changes and kinks we have seen with Starlink systems?
-There are significant interruptions in Starlink service when its raining, as in no service at all, until the rain stops.
– It has been reported that, after the latest software update, the RV system will no longer work with vessel in motion.
– In our everyday use of the Starlink system in Fort Lauderdale, it has been observed that the system stops working, several times per hour, even with no rain. Using the system with our cloud based desktops, we lose the internet connection to the desktop and must log in again, when the service becomes available again, usually in a few minutes.
-With the new details above, it is our opinion that Starlink makes a great addition to your existing 4/5g or Vsat systems, but Starlink is not YET ready to replace those reliable and proven systems. Click here to request a price list.

Starlink FAQ updated 9/15/22
 What is Starlink?
– Starlink is a new satellite internet service provider.
– Starlink’s stated objective is to provide high speed, low latency, internet to remote areas of the world.
– When completed, the Starlink system is projected to have about 30,000 satellites circling the earth, in Low Earth Orbit. As of this writing, there are less than 3000 Starlink satellites in orbit. Click here to request a price list.

 How does Starlink work?
– The constellation of Low Earth Orbit Starlink satellites communicate directly with your Starlink user terminal, and relay your internet needs to the closest Starlink ground station.
– Maximum range from Starlink terminal to Starlink ground station is about 400 miles.
– Next generation Starlink satellites, some already in orbit, will communicate with each other by Laser, to extend coverage distances more than 400 miles from the Starlink ground stations. This will enable truly global coverage, including full coverage of oceans. Click here to request a price list.

 What do I need to know before deciding to purchasing a Starlink system for my Motoryacht?
– Starlink Maritime version is approved for use in motion, and approved for international use, the other versions of Starlink are NOT approved in motion, and not approved for extended international use.
– Starlink does not have phone tech support.
– Starlink tech support is email only.
– Starlink does not cover any onboard labor for warranty issues.
– There are no Starlink certified dealers or repair centers.
– Starlink is NOT currently enforcing many of their listed Terms of Service. The enforcement of these rules could start at any time, with no notice. The key rules NOT being enforced, at this time, are:
– Starlink terminals are not supposed to function with vessel in motion. (except Maritime version)
– Starlink is currently allowing some user terminals to function in areas that are not officially approved for Starlink service. Starlink Terms of Service require that you do not use the RV version in an area that is not approved for Starlink service. (i.e. RV versions working in Bahamas for example)
– Starlink RV units are NOT supposed to function when NOT on same continent as Starlink account billing address. (RV system with USA billing address should not work in Bahamas or Caribbean)
– Starlink terminals (except Maritime version) are allowed a maximum of 60 days use when outside of “home” country, as decided by account billing address.
-The following are copied directly from Starlink terms of service:
– Best Effort Service for RV Users. Network resources are always deprioritized for Starlink RVs users compared to other Starlink Services, resulting in degraded service and slower speeds in congested areas and during peak hours. Stated speeds and uninterrupted use of the Service are not guaranteed. Service degradation will occur most often in “Waitlist” areas designated on the Starlink Availability Map during peak usage hours. See the Starlink Specifications for expected performance of the Starlink for RV Services.
– You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for (a) understanding and complying with all applicable laws and regulations associated with your use of Starlink for RV Services and the Kit; and (b) stopping use of the Starlink for RV Services or Kit if you are in an unsupported geographic location. You can view Starlink active coverage on the Starlink Availability Map.
– IN-MOTION USE PROHIBITED. (Maritime version is approved for use in motion)
SERVICES IN-MOTION ON A VEHICLE OR VESSEL (e.g., CARS, VANS, RVs, BOATS) IS PROHIBITED, WILL VOID THE LIMITED WARRANTY OF YOUR KIT, AND MAY BE GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION OF YOUR AGREEMENT WITH STARLINK PER SECTION 12 OF THESE TERMS. AT THIS TIME, STARLINK IS NOT CONFIGURED TO BE SAFELY USED IN-MOTION OR INSTALLED ON A VEHICLE OR VESSEL.
– ASSUMPTION OF RISK. YOU AGREE THAT YOUR USE OF THE SERVICES AND THE STARLINK KIT, AND SUCH USE BY ANYONE USING YOUR ACCOUNT, IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK. SERVICES ARE NOT SUITED OR INTENDED AS A MISSION-CRITICAL OR SAFETY-OF-LIFE SERVICE.
– Starlink, as with all internet providers, will eventually reach a saturation point where a geographic area reaches a maximum number of users that the satellites can handle. Once this saturation is achieved, service speeds for that geographic area will decrease, and systems like the Starlink RV on a “best effort” plan, will see reduced speeds first.
Other satellite operators are able to move capacity as needed, to busy geographic areas, by adjusting the satellite spotbeams. Unfortunately, with Starlink, the only way to increase capacity in a busy geographic area, is by adding more satellites to the system. This type of system upgrade could take months, or even years, and be extremely expensive. Click here to request a price list.

 Where can I purchase a Starlink system?
– Starlink is a Direct to Consumer Brand.
– Starlink systems can only be purchased on the Starlink web site.
– Starlink systems are designed to be a “Do it Yourself” installation, therefore, there are no “certified dealers or certified/recommended installers” and NO onsite/onboard warranty support.
– Purchase Starlink equipment here: https://www.starlink.com/
Click here to request a price list.

 Who can install a Starlink system for us?
– Our techs have already installed many systems, and we keep inventory of the required installation parts.
– Please contact us today to schedule your Starlink installation. Click here to request a price list.

 What Starlink system are available for purchase?
-There are currently 4 Starlink systems
Residential … Equipment $599, service $110 per month, speeds to 180Mbps (Not recommended for Yachting)
– Designed for fixed site home use in remote areas
– Not approved for use in motion
– Can add “portability” for use in multiple fixed locations (i.e.: home and vacation home)
– Top Priority service when in use at fixed home address
Business … Equipment $2500, service $500 per month, speeds to 350Mbps (Not recommended for Yachting)
– Designed for fixed site business use in remote areas
– Not approved for use in motion
– Top Priority service and Priority tech support
RV ….. equipment $600, service $135 per month, speeds to 180Mbps (Not recommended for Yachting, recent software update reportedly causes system to stop working with vessel in motion)
– Designed for mobile users on Recreational Vehicles
– Starlink RV is a nomadic land service that according to Starlink’s website and terms of service can only be used within your country of registration.
-Starlink RV is Not approved for use in motion.
– Always “best effort” service, with the “fixed site” user terminals listed above taking top priority in any geographic area.
Maritime …. Equipment $10,000, service $5,000 per month, Speeds to 350Mbps (Recommended for Yachting)
– Designed and approved for mobile use on Yachts/Ships.
– Always “best effort” service, with the “fixed site” user terminals listed above taking top priority in any geographic area.
– Starlink Maritime system has 2 external antennas and 2 modems that need to be connected together for full speed operation. Requires additional equipment not provided. (Does not come with required additional parts, or instructions for set up)
Click here to request a price list.

 Where does Starlink high speed internet service work?
– Starlink coverage changes constantly, as new satellites are launched.
– Starlink coverage maps are available here: https://www.starlink.com/
– As of this writing, Starlink has been reported to work in USA, Bahamas, most of the Caribbean, and most of the Mediterranean. Service is reportedly working in those areas even though the Starlink coverage maps show some areas as not yet available.
– Starlink must meet the regulatory requirements of each country where the service is broadcast, many countries are still in the “legal approval” phase, so even though the service is physically working, the coverage map shows “coming soon” due to pending regulatory approvals.
– Starlink knows exactly where each user terminal is geographically located, and can easily shut off the Starlink terminal if the Starlink terminal is being used in conflict with the Starlink terms of service. Click here to request a price list.

 How do I contact Starlink for tech support?
– Unfortunately, as a low cost “Do It Yourself” System, there is no tech support by phone. All tech support is email only, on Starlink web site, or the Starlink app. Click here to request a price list.

 How can I get warranty support for my Starlink?
– After communication with Starlink tech support by email, Starlink will ship refurbished parts as needed, as they are available, for “Do it Yourself” repairs and replacements.
– Starlink parts are shipped to the account billing address.
– The is no “onboard/onsite” labor coverage by Starlink for warranty issues. Click here to request a price list.

 Does the Starlink antenna move while in use?
– Yes, the Starlink antenna does move, to point the antenna in the general direction of the satellites. This movement allows the Starlink satellites to use less power to communicate with your Starlink user terminal. Click here to request a price list.

 What will negatively affect the quality of Starlink internet service?
– If the Starlink antenna is on the same horizontal plane as vessel radar beam, Starlink system will NOT work when radar is transmitting.
– Starlink satellites are always moving at high speed across the sky, any obstructions (Rain, heavy cloud cover, Mast, Boom, Radar, Tuna Tower, Tall Buildings, Mountains, etc.) will negatively affect Starlink system performance. Usually the blockage will cause intermittent internet loss, or significant internet speed loss. Click here to request a price list.

 

 


 

 

STARLINK, VIASAT and INMARSAT Satellite News

By Susan Jobe, The Triton

Yacht Interent Wifi

 

No discussion about the future of yacht internet is complete without addressing the increasingly critical need for reliable, high-speed broadband service at sea. As technology evolves and the virtual world grows ever more inextricable from the functions of modern life, constant internet access is quickly becoming more than a luxury or even an expectation – eventually, it will be a nonnegotiable necessity for owners, guests, and crew alike. How do we get there from here? How do we unlock that potential? Could Starlink hold the key?

WiFi Internet Provider Marine Data Solutions As with all things Elon Musk-related, Starlink has been garnering quite a bit of press attention. A division of Musk’s aeronautical company SpaceX, Starlink is also the name of its rapidly expanding constellation of low Earth orbit satellites (LEOs) intended to eventually blanket the planet with high-speed internet access. On Jan. 6, SpaceX sent 49 of the small, mass-produced LEOs into orbit, bringing the total to almost 2,000 satellites launched, with thousands more to come.

The land-based beta service, licensed and available in about 20 countries, uses small satellite dishes that receive signals through large SpaceX-operated ground stations.

While its current top speeds of 150-200Mbps are nowhere near the gigabit speeds of fiber-optic cable, it’s quite fast compared with other satellite internet providers, which use satellites in geosynchronous orbits of about 35,000 km.

Starlink satellites operate at altitudes between 550-1200 km, according to an FCC report, and it’s this low-orbit approach, with less distance for signals to travel, that allows for less latency (lag time in responsive connectivity). Low latency is critical for voice and video calling, gaming, and live content streaming. For those who live in remote areas where internet access has been dial-up slow and unreliable, or completely unavailable, it’s a game changer.

But that’s the land-based system. Could Starlink also be a game changer for service at sea? Musk has declared on Twitter that maritime application would be ((relatively easy,” and that it should work everywhere for global maritime by roughly the middle of this year, once there are enough satellites with laser links launched. SpaceX began adding laser links to satellites planned for polar orbit early in 2021, but now all satellites launched have been upgraded with the links, according to the company. These ((space laser” links are key. They allow a satellite picking up a signal from a boat far from shore to bounce that signal off other satellites until it reaches a satellite within sight of a land-based ground station, where the signal is then connected to the wider internet. According to Starlink, information travels much faster through “the vacuum of space” than even fiber-optic cable. ((Laser links in orbit can reduce long-distance latency by as much as 50%, due to higher speed of light in vacuum & shorter path than undersea fiber,” Musk tweeted.

Global Yacht Internet
Global Yacht Internet

Still, there are hurdles that remain to be crossed. One is licensure and regulatory approval. Starlink is currently licensed only for beta testing on 10 ships, two of which are the autonomous spaceport drone ships that SpaceX uses to land its returning Falcon 9 rocket boosters. Some approval has already been granted by the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations agency that coordinates global communication technologies and satellite systems. But with Amazon’s Kuiper, OneWeb, Telesat, HughesNet, 036 mPOWER, and current satellite communication giants Inmarsat, Iridium and Viasat all elbowing for a piece of the pie, regulatory issues have arisen, as well as concerns about growing amounts of “space junk” threatening the visibility of the night sky and raising the odds of collisions in an already jammed orbital environment. It is estimated that the U.S. Space Surveillance Network is currently tracking about 15,000 pieces of space junk, down to as little as 4 inches in size. During July and October of 2021, the Chinese Space Agency informed the United Nations that their Tianhe manned space station had to maneuver to avoid collision with a Starlink satellite.

THE PROPOSED MERGER BETWEEN VIASAT AND INMARSAT PRESENTS AN INTERESTING TWIST

Viasat Internet for Yachts Inmarsat Satellite Logo

SpaceX has attempted to address those concerns with upgrades designed to reduce the satellites’ brightness during operation, and technology that enables them to autonomously avoid collisions based on uplinked tracking data. The satellites also have been equipped with krypton-fueled thrusters that allow them to leave orbit at the end of their life and disintegrate upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere. In documentation to the FCC, SpaceX stated that their lower orbits will help ensure the satellites re-enter the atmosphere in a shorter time in case of failure, and their closeness to Earth allows the fleet to broadcast signals at reduced power levels that are compliant with limits intended to reduce radio interference with other satellite and terrestrial wireless networks.

Another variable that will have to be addressed is antenna technology. Starlink operates on a flat-panel with multiple high-throughput antennas and a single solar array. Those flat- panel terminals (versus the traditional parabolic dish) need to be stabilized on a moving ship. According to SpaceX’s latest FCC application to deploy ESIMs (Earth Station in Motion) in U.S. and international waters, these specialized, high-performance units have been “ruggedized” for harsher environments and are able to continue to operate at greater extremes of temperature and weather. Only sea trials will tell if they have been “ruggedized” enough.

And then there’s cost. According to a filing with the ITU, Starlink is ultimately planning to launch about 42,000 LEO satellites to provide worldwide internet coverage, while the absolute minimum required to make the system fully operational has been estimated at 4,425. Beyond the astronomical costs of launching all those satellites into orbit, the mass-produced Starlink LEOs have a life expectancy of just five years, which means replacements will have to be continually launched into orbit by the thousands. Additionally, not all of them are functional. Some fail and others are intentionally de-orbited, either because of technical problems or because they are being replaced with newer, updated versions. Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard­Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, recently estimated that, of the more than 1,900 Starlink satellites that have been launched to date, there are 1,468 currently providing service. Martin Kits van Heyningen, CEO of satcom service provider KVH, said LEOs are the most expensive way to deliver satellite connectivity. “It’s not a lower cost solution, it’s a lower latency solution.” Of course, KVH is watching closely and preparing. “We’re already developing LEO-ready maritime satcom antenna equipment.”

Yacht Internet at High Altitudes
Marine Internet at High Altitudes

According to Paul Comyns, senior director of channel sales at Intellian Technologies, it will be three to five years before the satellite constellation fills out. “It will, however, change the architecture of the industry as it opens up IoT [the Internet of Things that allows inter-connected devices to collect and share data without human intervention] and delivers connectivity at extreme latitudes,” he said. That change can’t come soon enough for yacht crew.

“Owner and guest expectations are high,” Dave Johnson, a retired superyacht captain, said of reliable broadband aboard luxury cruisers. “Costs of monthly service, as well as download speeds, are the issue. More creative programs, as well as 24- hour support, are always appreciated.”

While cost and availability of that support (especially to captains) are yet to be determined, it’s the timeline that is the big question. Despite Musk’s ambitious predictions, skeptics say Starlink seems to be years away from fielding enough satellites for service at sea. Also, the recent announcement of the proposed merger between Viasat and Inmarsat presents an interesting twist, since Viasat is marketing speeds that rival Starlink, while Inmarsat is working toward complete global coverage. That merger, if approved, is expected to take place by mid-2022.

BY SUSAN JOBE
Corey Ranslem and Zuzana Prochazka contributed to this report.

Links:
4G/5G Yacht Internet
Viasat Satellite Interent
Marine Data Solutions Provider
The Triton