Starlink is an exciting leap forward in broadband technology. High speed, low latency satellite internet may be worth the wait, but you’d rather have access to it now. By combining Starlink with 4G/5G, you could be taking advantage of this powerful technology today.
What Is Starlink?
Starlink is a new service from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, intended to provide satellite internet nearly anywhere on Earth. Their use of thousands of low-earth satellites offers the potential for latencies as low as 20 ms, a huge leap forward for satellite internet.
The Starlink network is currently in beta. They’ve launched over 1,500 of their expected 42,000 satellites. There’s no official end date for the beta yet, although Musk has indicated via tweet that it could be over as early as this summer, with full mobile service following later in the year.
Is Starlink Reliable?
It will be, but a few things are holding it back at this point.
- Gaps between satellites: The current density of Starlink satellites isn’t high enough to keep a consistent connection going. Disconnections are short but frequent, making Starlink a poor solution for applications that need a continuous connection — like remote work, video calls, and gaming.
- Limited locations: The Starlink beta has been released in 10 countries — including the United States and Canada — but their coverage is not complete in any of those countries. It’s expanding rapidly as new satellites go online, but it may not be available in your area just yet.
- No mobile service: Musk has plans for Starlink to be a portable internet solution, letting you take your internet service anywhere you travel and even use it while driving your RV or truck. In its current state, though, the service is tied to your home location and the specific satellites servicing that area, so you can’t connect to the network if you leave that zone.
Adding 5G (or 4G) to Your Starlink Connection
Starlink’s high internet speeds, low latencies, and reasonable prices are game-changers, especially in rural areas or as a mobile networking option. When you don’t have cable internet available and your DSL is too slow, Starlink’s beta is a tempting alternative to an expensive T1 line or a higher-latency satellite network. You just need a way to overcome Starlink’s reliability issues.
What you need is a second, complimentary internet connection to pair with Starlink. Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN), a key technology behind SimpleWAN, allow you to aggregate broadband connections like Starlink and 4G/5G. That way, when Starlink disconnects the 4G or 5G network can take over momentarily to fill the gap. Most importantly, this happens without user intervention, so the experience is as fluid as using a single, reliable connection.