Setting up Starlink Internet the the RV

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SargeW

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After considerable thought about jumping into Satellite Internet for use in the stick house and RV, I decided to pull the trigger on a Starlink system when the "portability" feature was added to the service a few days ago.

Starlink is concentrating right now on "rural" areas first for their new customers. I have a place in AZ in Lake Havasu City. I made a deposit of $99 to get on the waiting list. Four days later I received an email that the unit was being prepared for shipping. A week later it was delivered. The set up kit contained a 19" X 12" rectangular dish with a mast attached, a four legged metal base with a hole for the mast, 75' of heavy cable, and the router.

I opted to go for the Starlink even though our T Mobile 5G router is working quite well in many populated areas. However, when you get away from a population center all bets are off. The Starlink set up is quick and easy, and taking the parts apart for transport is 2 minutes. For the set up the dish automatically searches and locates the satellites, so extended periods of aiming the dish (like Direct TV required) are eliminated. Plug in the dish, plug in the router and watch. Usually takes a few minutes to locate satellites and lock on.

I needed to find a route to feed the satellite cable from the inside of the rig to the dish. The cable that comes with the setup is a 75' heavy cable with plugs that look like mini USB plugs, but is a Starlink proprietary plug. The plug from the antenna is a straight connector, but the plug from the router is a "L" shaped plug. I located a pass through in my Aqua Hot bay that had a cable pass through to under the sink in my half bath. Several other cables and wires were already running through the opening, but I needed to be able to fish the Starlink cable easily through the opening as I move the dish and router from the RV to the house and back. Eventually I will purchase another cable to leave permanently in the RV.

For ease of installation I used a piece of 3/4" PVC pipe about 14" long. Working from the bottom Aqua Hot bay I slid the pipe up into the cable opening. To check the pathway first I used a strong flashlight from the bottom with the DW in the half bath with the under sink open. When she could see the light beam brightly, I replaced the light with the PVC pipe. With a little wiggling and upward pressure, the PVC pipe appeared in the sink cabinet opening. To route the cable to the bedroom where the router would sit on the dresser I used a spade bit to make two 3/4" holes in the cabinet, and the side wall into the bedroom.

Then working from the bedroom, routed the cable through the wall, in back of the toilet and into the sink cabinet. The cable slid easily through the PVC pipe and into the Aqua Hot bay. I pulled most of the wire into the bay, then coiled it up and hung the wire from the top of the cabinet. When hooking up the dish, I can feed as much cable out of the door to the to the dish location and plug it in.

Then just attach the other end to the router and plug it into a wall outlet. The dish goes from a stored vertical position, to a flat horizontal position when it starts to scan for satellites. A cell phone app on your phone allows you to monitor the progress of the setup as well as some other monitoring functions. Within 2-4 minutes the dish is on line and hooked up to the satellite array.

The dish worked well at the stick house, and my first trip was to Grand Canyon Caverns RV park in the mountains AZ. Nice scenic area, but zero cellular signal. I set up the rig and then put the dish out on the drivers side of the rig in an open area. The dish performed as designed, and for the next several days we had high speed internet for streaming, surfing, or making VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phone calls.

We paid $599 for the Starlink equipment, and monthly service is $110 a month for unlimited data with no throttling. Our average download speeds were 115 meg down, and 20 to 30 meg up. The additionally portability feature is good for anywhere in the country, and is an additional $25 a month. You can start and stop the portability feature within the app in seconds. I won't say the service is cheap, but if being connected about anywhere in the country is important, then it's worth looking into.

The downside to the service is the same as satellite TV. If you are in a heavily treed area or in a deep canyon, the dish may not be able to lock onto the satellites. And if you go to a major population center like LA, or Phoenix for example, the speeds you experience may be reduced do to congestion. That will improve though as more satellites are put into orbit.
 

jackiemac

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Great to hear real life experience. Not sure we'd spend that much gor the trailer but sounds great if you're an American.
 

Ex-Calif

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Great write up. Many thanks for sharing. I'm paying $75 a month for Comcast. $135 for national portability almost seems "reasonable."

The owner of the RV park I lived in called yesterday. I sorta became his "internet" guy. Someone had installed a couple of wavlink mesh antennas in the past. A new work from home guy came and he wasn't getting good signal or speed.

Come to find out the first antenna had gone rogue. In front of his trailer the signal strength was like 25%. I had to reset and reconfigure everything.

He is a recent WFH guy and I was postulating to the park owner that if this guy intends to travel around doing WFH he's gonna need to be more self contained. If I meet the guy I will mention this.
 

Lou Schneider

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The downside to the service is the same as satellite TV. If you are in a heavily treed area or in a deep canyon, the dish may not be able to lock onto the satellites. And if you go to a major population center like LA, or Phoenix for example, the speeds you experience may be reduced do to congestion. That will improve though as more satellites are put into orbit.

Nice writeup, Marty! Glad it's working for you.

More satellites won't solve congestion problems in areas with lots of users, the problem is the satellite has to be in range of both the user and a ground station and being in Low Earth Orbit it only sees a limited area as it passes overhead. This divides the system into virtual cells where each cell is the area covered by a local earth station. This limits the capacity in areas with lots of users, it's the Achilles Heel of the system. If Musk can make the satellite to satellite laser linkups work this will let them spread a concentrated load to more lightly loaded earth stations but it isn't a cure-all.

Where more satellites will help is with current dropout issues where there can be no satellites in range for several seconds to a minute or so causing service interruptions until another satellite comes into range. The current level of service is adequate for most uses including video streaming where the receiver can build up a buffer to carry through short interruptions. But they're causing problems for serious WFH users relying on things like extended Zoom calls or two way video conferences which are essentially real time with minimal buffering.

It will be interesting to see how Starlink performs next winter as it gains popularity and lots of mobile users congregate in popular snowbird areas.
 

SargeW

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Yeah Lou, Musk had said in an interview prior to this project getting off of the ground that it was not intended to take over providing service in congested cities. Current providers already do that very well. But the rural markets stand to benefit the most. And now with portability that advantage increases if you tend not to frequent large metropolitan areas.
 

Skookum

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It will be interesting to see how Starlink performs next winter as it gains popularity and lots of mobile users congregate in popular snowbird areas.

It could be a good or bad thing. We've noticed in popular areas that cell towers become overwhelmed. If some of the burden shifts to satellite, that could help. The hope is that Starlink doesn't become over-saturated in that area and the service starts to resemble that of an overloaded Hughesnet.
 

NY_Dutch

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Nice writeup, Marty! Glad it's working for you.

More satellites won't solve congestion problems in areas with lots of users, the problem is the satellite has to be in range of both the user and a ground station and being in Low Earth Orbit it only sees a limited area as it passes overhead. This divides the system into virtual cells where each cell is the area covered by a local earth station. This limits the capacity in areas with lots of users, it's the Achilles Heel of the system. If Musk can make the satellite to satellite laser linkups work this will let them spread a concentrated load to more lightly loaded earth stations but it isn't a cure-all.

Where more satellites will help is with current dropout issues where there can be no satellites in range for several seconds to a minute or so causing service interruptions until another satellite comes into range. The current level of service is adequate for most uses including video streaming where the receiver can build up a buffer to carry through short interruptions. But they're causing problems for serious WFH users relying on things like extended Zoom calls or two way video conferences which are essentially real time with minimal buffering.

It will be interesting to see how Starlink performs next winter as it gains popularity and lots of mobile users congregate in popular snowbird areas.
The newer laser equipped satellites don't need to be within range of a ground station. They only need to be within range of other laser equipped satellites until at some point a ground station is reached. That will allow Starlink to work over the oceans and other remote locations where ground stations are not practical.
 

SargeW

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It could be a good or bad thing. We've noticed in popular areas that cell towers become overwhelmed. If some of the burden shifts to satellite, that could help. The hope is that Starlink doesn't become over-saturated in that area and the service starts to resemble that of an overloaded Hughesnet.
I don't think so. Hughesnet was never intended to be a primary carrier for internet traffic. It started life as a Point of Sale (POS) technology for businesses to transmit short SMS messages when purchases were made. At some point morphed into something more, but has struggled to keep up.

There are saturation points that the system can/will reach particularly in high density areas. That's where the wait list comes in.
 

Heli_av8tor

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Much of our internet use is while driving. I’ll get very interested when an antenna becomes available that tracks in motion.
 

jymbee

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Yeah Lou, Musk had said in an interview prior to this project getting off of the ground that it was not intended to take over providing service in congested cities. Current providers already do that very well. But the rural markets stand to benefit the most.
I have lived in very rural areas around the country for much of my life. In the beginning, moving up from a 14.4 modem to a 28.8 then 56 was a pretty big deal. I had one of the very first satellite systems when they started to appear. Worked, but not all that well.

I could only watch as newer technology emerged-- DSL, cable, fiber etc. and remember all too well calling those providers and asking if was available at my place. "Uh, where do you live?" They were pretty dismissive when they found out where and had no idea when or even if they would ever have service there given the population density being what it was. Simply not worth their time & expense.

Kinda' cool to now see us rural hermits actually being at the front of the line for a change. At least for now. ;)
 

jymbee

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After considerable thought about jumping into Satellite Internet for use in the stick house and RV, I decided to pull the trigger on a Starlink system when the "portability" feature was added to the service a few days ago.
Excellent overview-- thanks for posting. I'm sure many here will be interested to hear of any ongoing details of your experiences going forward.
 

SargeW

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I moved today from Grand Canyon Caverns RV Park, in Peach Springs, AZ. Peach Springs is a tiny map dot with minimal population. A speed test there showed an average of 120 meg download speeds. I am now in Cave Creek, a suburb outside of Phoenix, a massive metropolitan area.

I set up in the Municipal county park here for a few days. I set up the Starlink and ran a speed test. The download speeds came in at 80 meg. No discernable differences in performance though.

Starlink advises though that relocating to a population area can affect the performance of the system, but so far no issues have been noted.
 

NY_Dutch

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It could be a good or bad thing. We've noticed in popular areas that cell towers become overwhelmed. If some of the burden shifts to satellite, that could help. The hope is that Starlink doesn't become over-saturated in that area and the service starts to resemble that of an overloaded Hughesnet.
In a way both cell and satellite Internet have similar congestion problems, as well as similar solutions. Adding more cell towers in congested areas works pretty much the same as adding more satellites. If the back haul connections are upgraded as well, then the capacities increase. One advantage Starlink has is that the same satellite that services your connection right now will also service a connection for someone in perhaps Africa a little later on with no effect on your service. That lets them offer service in many countries using the same set of satellites with no interference.
 

jymbee

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Starlink advises though that relocating to a population area can affect the performance of the system, but so far no issues have been noted.
I'll be interested to see if that performance stability remains that way as their system expands.
 

NY_Dutch

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I'll be interested to see if that performance stability remains that way as their system expands.
As the system grows, the balance between satellites, ground stations, and subscribers will need to be continuously balanced to maintain stability. I expect there will be times when that balance is a bit off one way or the other but will correct itself over time.
 

RobbC

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We need a better internet connection at our (rural) house, and would also like satellite internet in the RV. So I'm looking at Starlink, HughesNet, etc. Starlink seems like the best bet, and I know that their portability option allows you carry your antenna around with you. But I would like to have a "permanent" receiver installation on the house. Does anyone know if we could buy two Starlink receivers, one for the house and one for the road, and operate them under one service plan?

(I cant seem to find ANY way to submit this question to Starlink through their website).
 

Ex-Calif

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Welcome to the forum Robb.

There are at least a couple of Starlink users on the forum. In this thread I think member SargeW is using it for RV and house and it appears as if it is one service.

 

LarsMac

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We need a better internet connection at our (rural) house, and would also like satellite internet in the RV. So I'm looking at Starlink, HughesNet, etc. Starlink seems like the best bet, and I know that their portability option allows you carry your antenna around with you. But I would like to have a "permanent" receiver installation on the house. Does anyone know if we could buy two Starlink receivers, one for the house and one for the road, and operate them under one service plan?

(I cant seem to find ANY way to submit this question to Starlink through their website).
You can purchase additional dishes on a single account. and have one for home and one for RV
 

Lou Schneider

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We need a better internet connection at our (rural) house, and would also like satellite internet in the RV. So I'm looking at Starlink, HughesNet, etc. Starlink seems like the best bet, and I know that their portability option allows you carry your antenna around with you. But I would like to have a "permanent" receiver installation on the house. Does anyone know if we could buy two Starlink receivers, one for the house and one for the road, and operate them under one service plan?

(I cant seem to find ANY way to submit this question to Starlink through their website).
Welcome to The RV Forum, Robb!

The problem is all of Starlink's account specific components are in the dish itself, not like satellite TV where the dish is mostly passive and the account resides on the inside receiver you carry back and forth from the house to the RV. Starlink's inside unit only supplies power to Dishy and acts as a router to distribute the signal to your devices.

You can have multiple units at a single address but I believe each dish requires it's own subscription. If you don't want to move Dishy back and forth the best you can do is to have two accounts, one for the house and one for the RV and turn them on and off depending on which one you'll be using.
 

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