A recent sighting of what appears to be Starlink satellites over the Twin Falls area got me to wondering about the Starlink project, how it's going so far, and what experiences Idaho customers are having with the service to date.

You might have heard about some strange lights that were recently spotted in the sky over Twin Falls and Jerome. If you didn't see the lights yourself, you can watch the video here.

When you compare the light pattern against footage taken of reported Starlink satellites, it's reasonable to conclude that the lights seen over Jerome and Twin Falls on Sunday, could be explained as Starlink satellites. Watching the video got me to wonder more about the Starlink project and whether Idaho customers are happy with the service to so far.

SpaceX - Unsplash
SpaceX - Unsplash

The History Behind Starlink Internet

In 2015, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced his plans for the Starlink satellite constellation, a network of satellites that would provide global internet access. The project was ambitious, and many were skeptical that it would ever be completed. But Musk and his team persevered, and in 2019 the first batch of 60 satellites was launched into orbit.

The system is still in its early stages, but it has already begun to provide internet access to remote areas of the world. SpaceX continues to add satellites, which will help to expand coverage even further. Ultimately, the goal is to have a constellation of over 12,000 satellites, which would provide reliable internet access to everyone on the planet.

Rural communities face challenges obtaining high-speed internet.

While there are current wireless solutions available to areas that aren't serviced by hard-wired connections, those services don't come without challenges.

One of the bigger issues facing wireless internet providers is speed. While 4G and 5G networks are much faster than their predecessors, they are still not as fast as wired connections. This can be a problem for users who need to download large files or stream video content. Starlink wants to help reduce the speed gap between wired and wireless internet options.

Forest Katsch - Unsplash
Forest Katsch - Unsplash

Starlink internet service is available in the Twin Falls area

If you live in a rural community outside of Twin Falls or you live in the country where you cannot get wired high-speed internet service, there are several wireless carriers you can consider. could Starlink Sattelite Internet be a viable option? I asked a current Starlink customer who lives just south of Twin Falls about his experience with the service.

Q: How long have you been using Starlink Internet and what are your first impressions?

A: My experience with the Starlink internet system started off rocky and has remained a somewhat rough road since.  I've been using it now for about three months.  At first, the connection was quite poor and subject to many dropouts.  The speed was around 40 MB/second which was not that much faster than the wireless system I had been using.  Dropouts lasted for several seconds to a minute or two.  I could not even participate in a Zoom meeting I was in shortly after I started using Starlink.

Q: How long have you been using the Starlink service and tell me more about the speed?

A: Over the three months, I've used it now the connection has gotten a little more reliable but there are constant dropouts of several seconds almost every night.  The speed varies from 20 MB/second to over 200 which is quite a wide variation but the speed is more consistent at the lower end of the scale.

Q: Can you compare the cost of Starlink vs your old service?

A: The cost was $550 for the equipment and $110 per month.  My old service was just a flat $75 per month.

Q: Speaking of equipment: Was the system easy enough to set up?

A: The setup of the system is fine. The roof-mounted dish is completely in the clear.  If there is a problem with the setup I don't know what it could be...it's pretty much a "plug it in and use it" system once the dish is mounted in the clear. 

Q: If you could do it all over, would you?

A: I might have second thoughts about doing it again. The service is adequate for my use and it is a little faster but based on the speeds and the inconsistent connection I'm not sure it's worth what I'm paying for the service. I have friends in this area who are using the Starlink system and getting much better results than I am. Maybe I got a bad unit. I will continue to use it with the hope that it will soon start working as it should.  Meanwhile, on a scale of 1 to 5, I would rate the system at a 3. 

Anastasiia Moskalenko - Unsplash
Anastasiia Moskalenko - Unsplash

Final thoughts on Starlink - Should you give it a try?

This is just one customer's view of the service so your mileage may vary. As he said, he knows others in the area who are having better experiences.

If I were in the same situation, I'm not sure that I would pull the trigger just yet. I've adopted cutting and bleeding edge technologies in the past and often I have experienced quality challenges, especially during the early stages. That's not to say Musk's Starlink isn't in it to win it... and there's no doubt this kind of offering is more a marathon than a sprint, but bleeding edge tech often takes time before it's fully realized.

If you're looking, there are others to consider

There are other wireless services you might first consider like Tekfinity, Whitecloud or TruLeap Technologies, to name a few who have been in the area for some time. If it were me, I'd look at TruLeap to see if they service your area first. This isn't an ad, and nobody is paying me to say this... I just happen to know and trust several of their employees, and I know many of their customers who are happy with the service. If you're looking for wireless service, I recommend checking out Google reviews as a good place to start.

And all things considered, if you're interested in learning more about Starlink and all it has to offer, you can learn more about it on the Starlink website. 

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