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Starlink’s New Business Broadband

Starlink base. Photo: Starlink / SpaceX

Starlink has quietly updated its business broadband offerings. The original plan for businesses was $500 per month with a two-terabyte data cap. If a customer exceeded the data cap, the speed reduced to 1 Mbps for the remainder of the month unless a customer bought additional broadband at $1 per gigabyte. Starlink business comes with a premium antenna from HP at a one-time cost of $2,500.

The new plans are:

  • 1 TB Data Cap. $250/month plus $2,500 equipment costs.
  • 2 TB Data Cap. $500/month plus $2,500 equipment costs.
  • 6 TB Data Cap. $1,500/month plus $2,500 equipment costs.

Extra data now costs $0.50 per additional gigabyte.

Starlink promises faster speeds for businesses with the HP business antenna. This antenna has a 35% better field of view, is less sensitive to hot weather, handles rain better, and melts snow faster. The company now claims the following speeds on its website:

DownloadUpload
Residential20—100 Mbps5-15 Mbps
Business40—220 Mbps8-25 Mbps
RV5-50 Mbps2-10 Mbps

Interestingly, the speed claims above from the Starlink website are much slower than promised as recently as September 2022. For example, residential customers were told in 2022 that download speeds would be between 50—200 Mbps with upload speeds of 10—20 Mbps. Customers have been saying online that speeds are getting slower—something that has been validated by Ookla speed tests.

In the most recent FCC maps, Starlink claims speeds up to 350/40 Mbps. That matches the maximum speeds that Starlink promised to business customers in September 2022. We’ll have to see if the company drops the speeds claimed to the FCC now that it has dropped its maximum claimed speed down to 220/25 Mbps.

On May 9, Starlink notified customers that it would no longer deprioritize traffic after a customer hits the monthly data cap. Customers were being slowed to speeds as slow as 1 Mbps. Now, customers can sign-up to automatically be billed for excess data usage.

To some degree, the business offering is going to be a concern for some residential customers since business customers will get bandwidth priority. That might make a difference in neighborhoods with multiple business customers.

It will be interesting to see how Starlink performs over the long run. The company still has plans to add many thousands of satellites. But the company still has a waiting list of customers—and the company admits that it can get easily get oversubscribed in a neighborhood.

In 2021, Elon Musk said he foresaw a future where Starlink could provide backhaul bandwidth to rural cell towers. That may still be coming in the future, but not with the current constellations. The speeds above are not nearly what a cell tower owner wants to buy. Even the most rural small cell site is going to want a steady 500 Mbps of bandwidth, with a more typical requirement of 1 Gbps. I would think that residential subscribers have to hope the company never sells to cell towers, or the coverage at peak times could suffer.

By Doug Dawson, President at CCG Consulting

Dawson has worked in the telecom industry since 1978 and has both a consulting and operational background. He and CCG specialize in helping clients launch new broadband markets, develop new products, and finance new ventures.

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