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Starlink Satellite Internet vs 5G 2024

Starlink provides broadband internet access via satellite, and it’s both faster and lower latency than traditional satellite internet. If you’re unsure whether you need Starlink, this article explains all the details to make an informed decision.

What Is Starlink?
Starlink is an internet service provider that uses satellites to deliver broadband internet. Since it uses satellites, it’s available in many areas not serviced by cable, DSL, fiber, or 5G internet providers.

It is also faster than traditional satellite internet. It offers lower latency because it uses thousands of small satellites that orbit at about 342 miles rather than a few large satellites that orbit at about 22,000 miles like other satellite internet providers.

It’s available throughout North America, much of South America, Europe, Australia, and Japan, with some coverage in Southeast Asia and Africa, and more expected.

Starlink subscribers are required to purchase and set up a satellite dish and modem and pay an ongoing monthly subscription fee. Starlink also offers mobile hardware that you can use with an RV or boat and a mobile subscription plan that costs more than the standard subscription.

Why You Should Get Starlink
Starlink provides high-speed internet access in areas without broadband internet from other providers. Consider signing up for Starlink if you:

  • Don’t have local access to broadband internet
  • Live in a rural area without 5G
  • Need high-speed, low-latency internet access
  • Work remotely and need reliable internet access
  • Need mobile internet for your RV or boat

When You Shouldn’t Get Starlink
Starlink isn’t for everyone. Here are some reasons you might want to avoid Starlink as your internet service provider:

  • You have reliable local access to broadband internet
  • Require very low latency internet access
  • Can’t afford the expensive hardware
  • Have access to lower-cost 5G internet

Why You Should Sign Up For Starlink

Starlink is useful in several situations, including cases where it might be your only option for high-speed internet access. Here are some reasons you might consider signing up for Starlink.

You Don’t Have Local Access to Broadband Internet
If you don’t have access to cable, DSL, or fiber internet in your location, then you should consider signing up for Starlink. Since it’s satellite-based, it’s available in many areas not serviced by traditional wired broadband, including remote areas where even cellular service is spotty.

You can receive a high-speed internet connection as long as you’re within the Starlink service area, and you can set up your satellite dish with a clear view of the northern sky.

You Live in a Rural Area And Need Unlimited Data
If you live in a rural area and rely on your phone or a hotspot for your internet connection, you are probably very familiar with data caps and bandwidth throttling.

Cellular internet providers typically limit the amount of data you can download each month, adding up very quickly when you’re streaming movies and TV shows, browsing the web, working, and playing games via a cellular connection.

Starlink has no monthly data cap, so you don’t need to worry about that. It does use a priority system where some more expensive plans have higher priority for faster connection speeds, but your connection won’t ever slow down or stop due to surpassing a data cap.

You Need High Speed Low Latency Internet Access
The primary benefit of Starlink is that it offers faster speeds and lower latency in remote areas where satellite and cellular internet are the only options. If you live in a rural area and want to work from home Starlink might be your best option.

Unlike other satellite internet providers, you can use Starlink for gaming, streaming, video conferencing, and other activities that require a high-speed, low-latency connection. Starlink latency is typically in the 60 ms range, while traditional satellite providers have much higher latencies of 900+ ms that won’t support gaming or live video calls.

You Need Mobile Internet for Your RV or Boat
If you have an RV or boat and need internet access for entertainment or remote work, Starlink is the best option available. The mobile plan is more expensive than the standard plan, but it provides faster download speeds and the same low latency connections as the home- or business-based stationary version of the service.

Why You Shouldn’t Sign Up For Starlink
There are many reasons to use Starlink, but it isn’t the right service for everyone. Here are some reasons you might want to avoid Starlink in favor of a different internet option.

You Have Reliable Local Access to Broadband Internet
If you already have reliable local access to broadband internet through cable, DSL, or even 5G, then you probably won’t benefit from Starlink. Other broadband options are less expensive and provide faster connections with lower latency.

Starlink provides a faster connection with less latency compared to 5G in many areas, but check with the providers in your area to see what’s available. If you have high-speed 5G internet access on your phone, a similar service is likely available for home internet access in the same location.

You Require Very Low Latency Internet Access
Starlink provides lower latency than other satellite internet services but is still significantly higher than most cable and DSL broadband providers. It’s low enough for most situations, including videoconferencing, gaming, and streaming. Still, competitive gamers may find the ping and packet loss too high compared to traditional broadband internet.

It Isn’t Available in Your Location
Starlink is accessible throughout most of North America and other locations worldwide, but some places aren’t covered. For example, it isn’t available in the National Radio Quiet Zone in West Virginia, along with a handful of remote locations where service is unavailable. Before you make a decision, use the Starlink coverage map to make sure it’s available in your location.

You Can’t Afford the Expensive Hardware
Starlink is expensive, and it’s important to consider when deciding whether to sign up. There are probably cheaper options if you don’t live in a remote area.

In addition to a monthly subscription fee similar to the most expensive traditional cable and fiber internet services, you must purchase a satellite dish and router. If you need the RV or boat versions of the service, the monthly subscription fee and initial hardware purchase price are even higher.

Starlink vs. Satellite and 5G Internet
Starlink, traditional satellite internet providers, and 5G internet providers are the three typical options available in remote areas where wired broadband access isn’t available. Starlink is superior to satellite in terms of performance, with higher speeds and far less latency than satellite, and it’s also superior to 5G in most senses.

If you have strong 5G service in your area, with nearby 5G towers, then 5G can provide much higher theoretical download speeds. Starlink provides download speeds that vary between 25 Mbps to 150+ Mbps depending on your location, while 5G download speed can be much faster.

However, if you live in a remote area where wired broadband isn’t available, you are more likely to be limited to slower LTE speeds for cellular internet connections.

Do You Need Starlink to Access the Internet?
You probably don’t need Starlink to access the internet. According to the USDA, 98.5 percent of Americans in urban areas and 77.7 percent in rural areas have access to wired broadband. If you fall into either of those categories, you will likely have faster, less expensive, and more reliable options than Starlink.

If you live in an area that lacks wired broadband access, your options are standard satellite providers like Hugesnet, cellular internet, and Starlink. In that case, Starlink is likely to provide the fastest and most reliable service.

So, if you live in a remote area without access to broadband internet and need a reliable, high-speed connection for remote work, gaming, or other online activities, Starlink is likely your best option.

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