Individuals and businesses in rural areas have long experienced frustration with connectivity and broadband coverage issues. Alun Evans, a Partner at our Haverfordwest office, assesses how Elon Musk and Starlink have impacted these problems.
Elon Musk is never out of the press. He is a controversial figure, even more so after his takeover of Twitter. Still, behind the personality, there is no denying his financial success:
- He was an early developer and investor in PayPal;
- He developed a rocket that can be re-used through his company Space X;
- He changed the face of the car industry and electric batteries with Tesla;
- He provides satellite broadband connections through his company Starlink.
I live in a rural area miles from the nearest superfast fibre connection and have relied on a standard broadband package that provides 18 Mbps; this was perfectly adequate for servicing a house with ten devices on Wi-Fi.
However, the caveat is – “when the line doesn’t drop.” The added problem is that we do not have a strong mobile phone signal in our area and relied on Wi-Fi calling, which worked fine – “until the line dropped”, this happened because the broadband connection was by a telegraph wire over 1.5 miles away. Any wind or rain would cause the signal to drop, so it typically dropped several times a day.
In an attempt to solve this issue, we signed up with numerous rural broadband suppliers over the years. However, we are still on the waiting list and are yet to hear further. The standard solution of installing a dish to connect to a 4G mobile phone mast is also not viable as we do not receive a strong enough mobile phone signal.
We, therefore, considered Starlink, but it was an expensive option, with the initial hardware costing £460 and a monthly subscription of £75. However, we decided to take the plunge and take advantage of a ‘rural special offer’ which reduced the hardware cost. The installation cost starts at £250, depending on the ease of location for the fixing.
We have now been using the hardware for over a month – the speed has increased to 190Mbps, sometimes reaching over 200Mbps. Additionally, we can now use Wi-Fi to call on mobile phones. There are, however, outages with Starlink. Still, these tend to be for one second or less and are not usually noticeable.
Would I recommend Starlink?
While I would rather have a superfast fibre broadband connection and pay less than £75 per month, Starlink has been great for us until that becomes possible. For that reason, I recommend Starlink to anyone frustrated by their broadband connection.
To view the Starlink offer, visit: https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/1658970263130603520?lang=en-GB