starlink for rv

5 Things RVers Need To Know About Starlink Internet

5 Things RVers Need To Know About Starlink Internet

If you have been within throwing distance of the tech news world for the last year or two, you will have no doubt heard about Starlink Internet. If you haven’t heard of it, Starlink is a constellation of thousands of small satellites in low earth orbit. The goal is to provide internet service anywhere in the world via satellite.

Starlink differs from traditional satellite internet in several ways. Its satellites are only 300 to 500 miles above Earth, while traditional communication satellites are 23,000 miles above Earth. The closer distance improves latency, which is the time it takes to get a response.

Instead of single geostationary satellites that serve a wide area, Starlink will be launching several thousand satellites with narrower coverage areas resulting in higher bandwidth and faster speeds. Check out this RV Life article for a more in-depth look at how Starlink internet works.

The idea of having fast, reliable internet anywhere and not having to rely on cell coverage or data caps is a life goal for many RVers. RVers frequently ask about getting reliable internet on platforms like Facebook and forums like IRV2. Starlink is already beta testing in some areas of the United States and Canada, which has many RVers chomping at the bit to get some answers about taking the service on the road.

Recently, the Starlink team did an “Ask Us Anything” session on Reddit. The Starlink engineers answered many of the hundreds of questions posed to them. Elon Musk even chimed in from time to time. We sifted through the thread and pulled out five things we learned from the Starlink engineers that RVers might want to know.

1. Starlink is not quite ready to be taken RVing just yet.

Before you start making room in your compartments to accommodate the hardware, Starlink is not quite ready for the RV life. At this time, you have to register it at a specific address and only be accessed from there. They mention that it may be possible to use it in locations nearby, but the performance may suffer.

That hasn’t stopped some campers from testing their limits. As explained in this Do It Yourself RV article, you don’t need much to try out your Starlink internet hardware in nearby locations. A power source that will keep the 100W dish powered up and a smartphone are about it. It’s not a guarantee that it will work at camping locations near your home, though.

Don’t let this kill your Starlink dreams, though. The team is quotes as saying;

Mobility options – including moving your Starlink to different service addresses (or places that don’t even have addresses!) – is coming once we can increase our coverage by launching more satellites & rolling out new software.”

Mobile Internet Resource Center

Update, March 2021

The Starlink team is bringing RVers even closer to Starlink internet on the road. The company recently filed with the FCC to give them the go-ahead on producing Earth Stations in Motion or ESIM. 

Quoting the FCC filing, “SpaceX Services seeks a blanket license authorizing operation of such end-user earth stations for deployment as Vehicle-Mounted Earth Stations (“VMESs”), Earth Stations on Vessels (“ESVs”), and Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (“ESAAs”) (collectively, Earth Stations in Motion (“ESIMs”)).

FCC Filing by Spacex

That’s right. Starlink wants to mount its dishes on vehicles; including RVs. That means the company is close to solving or has solved the issues brought up in the Reddit AMA. Considering Starlink just filed this application, no one is sure exactly when we will see this product hit the market. We do know it’s coming, though.

2. Starlink Internet may benefit full-time RVers and boondockers the most.

Many cell phone companies have pretty good coverage, and unlimited plans allow RVers to rely on those cell phone plans for pretty good internet. If you are in an area with decent coverage, you can browse, stream, and use your phone as a hotspot for laptops and other devices. Relying on cell towers for the internet has its limiting factors as well.

Many campsites are in out-of-the-way places like the mountains, the desert, and other unpopulated areas. It is possible to get cell signals in many of these places, but getting good 5G, 4G, or even 3G speeds in these areas can be challenging. Other times you will have plenty of bars, but there will be only one tower in the area, and everyone must share it. That’s every camper and everyone in the nearby towns trying to stream Netflix off the same tower at once. The result is poor performance.

For those that only camp on weekends and in areas with good cell coverage, Starlink internet would probably be more expensive than it’s worth. But, for those that travel full time or spend a lot of time boondocking, having an internet connection that only relies on a view of the sky rather than cell tower infrastructure can be the difference between having internet or not.

Starlink internet boasts speeds of up to 300Mbps at the moment, with an ultimate goal of reaching 1Gbps speeds. However, Starlink recently announced that it has a new goal,  to eventually reach speeds of 10Gbps. Gbps stands for gigabits per second. 10Gbps would be more than enough speed for an entire small RV park to stream a movie at once. For digital nomads who camp where service is less than ideal, those speeds could be a game-changer.

Clearance issues might still be a concern with Starlink Internet

3. You may have to deal with clearance issues for a while.

If you already have satellite TV, you know that trees and obstructions are not your friends. The same holds with Starlink. At the moment, the satellite coverage is relatively limited. That means your view of the sky has to be completely clear from branches, trees, and other obstructions.

Anyone who has traveled with a satellite knows that is not always possible. That might sound like a no-go for many RVers. But the Starlink team has some positive things to say about the problem and the future of the product.

“You should think about communication between the Starlink dish and the satellite in space as a ‘skinny beam’ between dishy and the satellite. So, as the satellite passes quickly overhead, if there is a branch or pole between the dish and satellite, you’ll usually lose connection. We’re working on some software features that are going to make this much better and long term, the clearance you’ll need is going to shrink as the constellation grows. So this will get much better!”

Reddit.com

Clearance is already becoming less of an issue. While heavy tree coverage will always be a problem for satellite services, the amount of sky that needs to be visible should be considerably less soon since Starlink is shooting for global coverage by the end of 2021 according to the tweet below.

4. The dish is a bit of a power hog, but they are working on it.

Right now, the Starlink dish that you need to connect to the network uses about 100 watts while running. That’s not too bad, but it isn’t excellent news for boondockers. If you need internet 10 hours a day and are trying to run off solar, that’s a good chunk of power just to run your internet. Of course, power consumption will vary depending on your needs.

Starlink engineers said, “We have a couple of items in progress to further reduce power consumption. We are working on software and network updates to allow your Starlink to go into a deeper power savings mode to drop power consumption while still remaining connected to the network. Power reductions are a key item we are focusing on for the future.” That’s good news for boondockers, but we are going to have to wait for those upgrades to become a reality.

Mobile Internet Resource Center

It will be interesting to see how much of a power reduction Starlink will get with updated software of its mobile versions. The recent FCC filing states that the ESIMs are electrically identical to their current dishes. If that’s the case, it might take 100W of power to have the internet while driving down the road.

That’s not too much power for an alternator and an inverter to handle. However, whenever you stop your RV, you will need larger capacity lithium batteries, solar panels, or be plugged into power if you want to run your Starlink internet for any length of time.

5. Their system is very scalable, so bandwidth should not be an issue as they grow.

If you have ever been to a town that only has one cell tower nearby and everyone is using it, you have experienced low bandwidth. Too many users can slow internet speeds to a crawl. This issue plagues the current widely used satellite internet systems. Starlink engineers claim that their system will be easily scalable and allow them to grow with the user base.

“This is not going to be like your regular satellite internet where it gets way too crowded–as we launch more satellites over time, the network will get increasingly great, not increasingly worse.” The Starlink team said.

Keep your eye on Starlink Internet

Like all new and groundbreaking projects, it has a ways to go.  It is unclear whether Starlink internet users will be allowed to take their ground-based systems and set them up anywhere like satellite TV. However, RVers who find themselves in areas with little to no cell service frequently will have the option to mount Starlink internet dishes to their rigs soon.

Starlink engineers are working on the issues, and they will take all the help and suggestions they can get.

To quote the Starlink team, “We are super excited about the initial response and future potential of Starlink, but we still have a ton to learn. If you know any great people who can help us with that, please have them email their resume to [email protected].”

Ars Technica

In the video below, Chris Dunphy from Mobile Internet Resource Center discusses some more information about the recent FCC filing and the future of Starlink internet.

You can learn more about the speeds, cost, and how Starlink Internet differs from traditional satellite internet in the following articles.

You may also want to invest in an RV WiFi booster – learn more about them here.

Photo of author

Author Anthony Foxx

I am Tony, an RV designer and RV developer. I create bill of materials for RV manufacturers for travel trailers and fifth wheels. I worked as a freelance transportation consultant for Lyft. As an RV development consultant, I create customization trees for RV manufacturers who want to offer a solution to prospective customers to design their custom RV with variant configuration. Apart from this, I sell in Indiana trailer hitches, hitch balls, goosenecks and weight distribution systems where I provide advice to customers who want to know which is their towing capacity, which hitch ball should they utilize and how to deploy a weight distribution system. I do my best to explain all these processes and their installation, in the Lifestyle edition of Business Finance News.

Thank you for visiting businessfinancenews.com

Leave a Comment

Business Finance

About Us

Business Finance News is a brand oriented to business owners and dedicated to analyzing and comparing the cost and conditions of B2B procurement of goods and services through free quotes delivered by business partners.

Contact

Address 5050 Quorum Drive, (75254) Dallas TX

telephone 844-368-6072

DISCLAIMER

A personal loan is a medium term loan with a fixed interest rate that is repaid in equal monthly payments and it's usually limited to 24 months. Loan offers and eligibility depend on your individual credit profile. Our lenders can help you obtain as much as $3,000 depending on the lender, your state and your financial situation.

The owner and operator of businessfinancenews.com is not a lender and is not involved into making credit decisions associated with lending or making loan offers. Instead, the website is designed only for a matching service, which enables the users contact with the lenders and third parties. The website does not charge any fees for its service, nor does it oblige any user to initiate contact with any of the lenders or third parties or accept any loan product or service offered by the lenders. All the data concerning personal loan products and the industry is presented on the website for information purposes only.

Businessfinancenews.com does not endorse any particular lender, nor does it represent or is responsible for the actions or inactions of the lenders. Businessfinancenews.com does not collect, store or has access to the information regarding the fees and charges associated with the contacting lenders and/or any loan products. Online personal loans are not available in all the states. Not all the lenders in the network can provide the loans up to $3,000. Businessfinancenews.com cannot guarantee that the user of the website will be approved by any lender or for any loan product, will be matched with a lender, or if matched, will receive a personal loan offer on the terms requested in the online form. The lenders may need to perform credit check via one or more credit bureaus, including but not limited to major credit bureaus in order to determine credit reliability and the scopes of credit products to offer. The lenders in the network may need to perform additional verifications, including but not limited to social security number, driver license number, national ID or other identification documents. The terms and scopes of loan products vary from lender to lender and can depend on numerous factors, including but not limited to the state of residence and credit standing of the applicant, as well as the terms determined by each lender individually. 

APR REPRESENTATIVE

APR (Annual Percentage Rate) is the loan rate calculated for the annual term. Since businessfinancenews.com is not a lender and has no information regarding the terms and other details of personal loan products offered by lenders individually, businessfinancenews.com cannot provide the exact APR charged for any loan product offered by the lenders. The APRs greatly vary from lender to lender, state to state and depend on numerous factors, including but not limited to the credit standing of an applicant. Additional charges associated with the loan offer, including but not limited to origination fees, late payment, non-payment charges and penalties, as well as non-financial actions, such as late payment reporting and debt collection actions, may be applied by the lenders. These financial and non-financial actions have nothing to do with businessfinancenews.com, and businessfinancenews.com has no information regaining whatsoever actions may be taken by the lenders. All the financial and non-financial charges and actions are to be disclosed in any particular loan agreement in a clear and transparent manner. The APR is calculated as the annual charge and is not a financial charge for a personal loan product. 

Late Payment Implications

It is highly recommended to contact the lender if late payment is expected or considered possible. In this case, late payment fees and charges may be implied. Federal and state regulations are determined for the cases of late payment and may vary from case to case. All the details concerning the procedures and costs associated with late payment are disclosed in loan agreement and should be reviewed prior to signing any related document. 

Non-payment Implications

Financial and non-financial penalties may be implied in cases of non-payment or missed payment. Fees and other financial charges for late payment are to be disclosed in loan agreement. Additional actions related to non-payment, such as renewals, may be implied upon given consent. The terms of renewal are to be disclosed in each loan agreement individually. Additional charges and fees associated with renewal may be applied. 

Debt collection practices and other related procedures may be performed. All the actions related to these practices are adjusted to Fair Debt Collection Practices Act regulations and other applicable federal and state laws in order to protect consumers from unfair lending and negative borrowing experience. The majority of lenders do not refer to outside collection agencies and attempt to collect the debt via in-house means. 

Non-payment and late payment may have negative impact on the borrowers’ credit standing and downgrade their credit scores, as the lenders may report delinquency to credit bureaus, including but not limited to Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. In this case the results of non-payment and late payment may be recorded and remain in credit reports for the determined amount of time.