Starlink offers new services aimed at RV and marine use

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

14 Responses

  1. David says:

    Cudos on clarifying RV/Portability.
    I’m liveaboard 40ft sloop.
    Notwithstanding, still confusing which to choose.
    For the moment I’m on Residential in my marina.
    I work aboard so-called digital nomad and need Starlink to work anywhere I’m moored.
    Maybe Starlink will figure out if this becomes easier technically/billing and legally more reliable many more boaters would opt in.
    Anyway, great article.

  2. Roger Hughes says:

    Ben, I see some people having to mount dishy on a tall pole I assume in order to clear obstructions, but then I see a couple guys on utube cut the unit down and mount it flat on top their boat and non articulated. Obviously mounted flat is better on a boat so why not?

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Roger,

      Tall poles are typically to clear obstructions. On RVs they make a lot of sense to give you a fighting chance of getting above potential tree cover. On boats, typically all you need is a tall enough mounting option to clear any super structure or other obstructions from the boat itself.

      Indeed, a number of people are making various modifications to their terminals in order to mount them flat on their back and pointing at the sky. I haven’t done this to mine yet, and at least as of now, don’t intend to do so. My thinking on this is two fold: 1) I don’t know enough about the engineering that went into making determinations about where the dish should point to make the decision to circumvent what SpaceX engineers designed. 2) Things are changing so fast with Starlink that I have very little confidence that what makes sense today will make sense tomorrow. As more satellites launch, it’s very possible that ideal aiming will change. Will I regret having disabled my motors? Maybe.

      The last factor for me deciding not to modify my dishy is simple. I haven’t had any troubles using it with the motors enabled. The locations I’ve used it work find with it sitting upright. I don’t have it on top of my RV going down the road nor have I tried to use it in motion on the boat much. If I did, that might change my thinking.

      -Ben S.

  3. Larry Olson says:

    I’m considering it but not having communication with Starlink is MAJOR issue and rarely use any vendor that hides behind a web address without a phone, email or some way of communication. I’d want to use it on the boat and at home so looking for options to make that work. The antenna position on my boat is 73 feet to my office in the home, and would want to include the TVs, another 25 feet. Got a few idea on Trawler Forum, but still a bit confusing.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Larry,

      The lack of direct access to the company is part of the package you get with an Elon Musk run company. Personally, I think Starlink has taken it a little far by making it very difficult to access support, but I do get it. In the early 2000s I helped start an online brokerage. Our application process was entirely online and many potential customers had issues with the process. We came to realize that those same customers who had troubles with the online application would also have troubles trading online and perhaps weren’t the best fit for us. I think there’s some of that thought process at work here.

      The distances you describe can all be met pretty easily via WiFi. Depending on WiFi congestion in your area you may simply be able to use the Starlink WiFi out of the box, or you may have to use a few WiFi bridges with directional antennas. Experimentation will likely be the best way to get your answer.

      -Ben S.

  4. Jens Ewerling says:

    Let’s keep it real… check this out: Debunking Starlink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vuMzGhc1cg

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I haven’t invested the full 43 minutes into this video. But, in the first few minutes, the overwhelming impression is that of a hit piece. He’s criticizing the terminals because they don’t have a removable cord. Okay, but that changed more than six months ago. The rest of the video seems to continue on the same path. Cherry picking the worst possible numbers and facts, even when newer information is available.

      Nearly every satellite constellation that’s been launched has seen the company that launched it go through bankruptcy. Only time will tell if Starlink meets the same fate.

      -Ben S.

  5. Barb Headley Malden says:

    Thanks Ben for your on-going techy-ness. I ‘m wondering, after doing about 30 minutes snooping around on this, if this “mobile” version will run on 12 V power (i.e. in camper/truck off-grid and/or on boat, at anchor, without a generator running and, obviously not being on shore power)??
    I can’t find a quick, easy answer…plus i have to realllly concentrate when contemplating these things!
    Thanks!
    Barb

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Hi Barb,

      Out of the box, all of Starlink’s hardware requires AC power. There are quite a few people who have figured out how to provide the 48 volts DC the dish actually uses. Most people have done this using a 12v-48v DC-DC converter. I use my Starlink powered by my batteries in both my RV and on the boat, but it’s through inverters in both cases. I think we’re all hoping there’s going to be a recreational marine offering at some point and that it will be 12v powered. Or, even simpler, perhaps Starlink themselves will just offer a 12v power converter.

      -Ben S.

  6. Barb says:

    Great thanks for that summary. Equally great is my husband says, “Ok, I can do that.” Yay!

  7. Dave says:

    Have there been any clues to whether the Maritime hardware kit can be used with the lower speed RV/residential data rate plan ($135/mo) when the $5k a month maritime higher speed data plan is not enabled on it? If so, I would see the logic to plunk down 10k for the marinized HW for recreational use. I have the RV kit installed and have been testing it from Alaska on south on our return to San Fran, and it works great everywhere we’ve been from Petersburg and south from there.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Thus dar, I haven’t seen any indication. But, Starlink’s pattern has been to deal with the high volume, most common cases first and then eventually add the ability to do less common things. We saw that with RV where at first you couldn’t switch from Residential to RV or the other way. Subsequently, they added that capability.

      The other big unknown that would change things is whether or not Starlink is losing money on the maritime equipment. If they are, I’d expect that makes it less likely they will permit usage on a lower cost plan. On the other hand, if they’re making money on it (which at $10k is a lot more likely) Starlink might benefit from permitting the usage.

      -Ben S.

  8. David says:

    Hi Ben, I’m a consultant with maritime fisheries and wanted to confirm that costs for vessels at sea (VSAT specifically) include antenna hardware that cost between $35,000 and $150,000 and monthly service between $2,500 and $10,000. At the top end that gets you about 2-4Mbits down/1 Mbit down. So Elon’s headlines are a head-turner for my clients.

    However, for business purposes, Starlink will have to answer some questions including SLA (Service Level Agreements), ability to call support, whether they limit data capacity (some of my vessels have up to 140 people on them that all want to do NetFlix), getting a static IP address etc. The current vendors for satellites have large Network Operating Centers (NOC’s) that support their clients. The crews are all seeing this offering and going to their management demanding it – but until Starlink provides some business level answers, it will be tough to abandon the VSAT models that have proven reliability. There are still so many unanswered questions.

    Truly this (and OneWeb, etc) are inflection points for the at-sea communication market. The Inmarsats/IntelSats/Iridiums of the world are going to have their worlds turned upside down if Elon actually can deliver a commercially viable product at the pricing they’ve announced.

    One final point. The coverage maps don’t show the entire world. I have clients in the Antarctic – and they don’t show this on the map…

  9. Dave says:

    starlink isnt going to offer RV style pricing for trans-oceanic customers , why its a tiny market, he’ll sweep up the big comercial boys and fishing fleets etc . for coastal hoppers the RV package will probably suffice most of the time

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