New adopters of Starlink internet service pleased

GOULDSBORO — Several Starlink Kits have been set up throughout Downeast Maine, and the early reviews of the broadband satellite internet service from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk are positive — including the service’s easy installation and fast internet speeds.

“One, two, three. That’s all there was to it,” said Dave Seward of Gouldsboro.

Once subscribers set up a mobile app, plug in their dish — which stands about 1 foot off the ground and is 18 to 20 inches in diameter — and drill through an exterior wall to connect wires to an indoor unit, they are connected.
Seward added that one crucial part of the installation process is making sure the dish has a clear scan of the sky and is not impeded by tree cover.

Seward lives with his wife, Mary, in an area of Gouldsboro that is not connected by traditional broadband providers, such as Spectrum, and it would be especially costly to get cables installed to be outfitted for the provider.
Until Starlink, finding fast and reliable internet has been a challenge for the couple.

“It’s been excellent ever since we’ve had it,” Seward said.

Seward added that he’s rarely lost internet since the dish was installed over six months ago. When his house has lost service, it’s only been for about a minute, which Seward credits to the thousands of Starlink satellites in the sky.

Those satellites could even potentially help Ukrainians stay connected amid the country’s invasion by Russian soldiers that began at the end of February.

A Feb. 26 report by Reuters noted that Musk was sending shipments of the Starlink technology to Ukraine, although Musk also cautioned that Russian intelligence could target those using the satellites.

Here in Maine, Seward assures that one does not have to be tech-savvy to install the equipment, which allowed Seward to help his neighbor, Dottie Mace, set up her Starlink Kit.

“It was very easy,” Mace agreed.

For Brett Jones in Lamoine, “The installation was pretty straightforward.”

He decided to mount the dish on his roof, using hardware from an existing but unused satellite dish.

“I would think most people will need to find a competent installer if they want it mounted to the roof or exterior wall of a home,” he advised.

Since the installation, “service has been great,” he said. “There are very occasional and very brief outages, but the speeds and latency are as good as any other broadband service I’ve used in my area.

Jones said his household has tested many internet options to get quality service.

Connecting hard-to-reach areas is part of the goal behind Musk’s internet endeavor.

According to Starlink’s website, its method of delivering internet service has been built with rural communities in mind and is “ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge.”

The service costs $99 per month and the Starlink Kit rings in at $499 before shipping, prices that are higher than what typical broadband providers charge.

But it’s still a welcome price tag for many who have been told that to be eligible for services like Spectrum, they will have to spend several thousands of dollars to extend cables to their houses.

Sullivan resident Don Snoke has been working to help get his community connected to the internet and he has been keeping up with the process — from ordering the kit to installing — for initial Starlink users.

“The feedback I have gotten has been resoundingly positive,” Snoke told The American. One subscriber commented to Snoke that Starlink “promised 150 Mbps (megabits per second), but I am routinely seeing 300 Mbps and more.”

Snoke adds the high speeds could be because the Starlink network does not have enough users to back up the system yet.

For context, streaming a movie on Netflix requires speeds of at least 1.5 Mbps, according to the ConnectME Authority. To stream in “Ultra HD” requires 25 Mbps, according to Netflix.

Snoke highlighted a few issues with the service, like how users need to set their dishes up where the night sky is completely accessible and not hindered by any tree coverage.

He also reported that early subscribers had to wait months to get their equipment because it was stuck on shipping containers offshore in California.

Issues raised by other parties include those looking to protect dark skies, a prominent resource in Maine, as the satellites could potentially affect how stargazers and astronomers observe the night sky.

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]

Rebecca Alley


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