Starlink versus BroadbandBI: What to Know


May 11, 2023

Starlink versus BroadbandBI: What to Know

Block Island resident Mona Helterline, a subscriber to both Starlink and BroadbandBI, recently compared the two services side by side and provided a comprehensive review. Thanks, Mona!

Cost-wise, how do the two compare related to both service and equipment?
For Starlink, the initial purchase of equipment is $599, plus tax and $50 delivery. The customer owns their equipment and is allowed to resell it. The monthly fee will vary depending on where you live and is broken out into limited capacity or excess capacity pricing. Starlink doesn’t explain what determines a location’s capacity. Monthly fee for residential service is $120 on Block Island. Excess capacity areas (not Block Island) currently have a monthly cost of $90. There is no contract with Starlink and you can cancel at any time. There are no pricing tiers or service levels, but there is a plan for businesses and also an option for those who want to take their internet service wherever they go (e.g. boating, camping).

With BroadbandBI, I subscribe to 100 mbps best effort service. Monthly cost is $83.95. I don’t own the equipment or pay a rental fee.

How fast is each service?
When performing speed tests, Starlink download speeds were almost twice as fast as those of my BroadbandBI package (100 mbps best effort).  However, this made absolutely no difference in my ability to stream on multiple devices simultaneously or work remotely.  

When I tested the time it took to download a full length movie from Netflix to my device for offline viewing, my BroadbandBI service took 4 minutes while Starlink took 2 minutes.  BOTH SERVICES ARE SUPER FAST, especially when compared to my old Verizon DSL, which took at least 30 to 45 minutes to download a large file like a movie, if I could get it to load at all.

In any case, you achieve the highest quality internet service when you plug directly into a router. It’s important to note that the Starlink router does not have an ethernet port; however, you may purchase an adapter which will allow that connection.

WHERE BROADBAND TRULY BEATS STARLINK IS THE UPLOAD SPEED and we shouldn’t underestimate the value of this. In my speed tests, BroadbandBI upload speeds were 5 times faster than Starlink’s. I think many people assume that upload speeds are not important to them based on how they use the internet, but we rely on upload speed more often than we realize. For instance:

  • sharing photos, videos, or large files
  • Wi-Fi assist calling
  • video calls like FaceTime or Skype
  • conference calls/online meetings (Zoom/Google Meets)
  • using cloud based applications 
  • online data back-up 
  • working remotely
  • online gaming 
  • smooth streaming experience 

Weak or slow upload speeds are often the cause of broken audio and/or frozen video screens.

Starlink was a lifesaver when that was the only option (thank you Elon), but the higher upload speeds and reduced latency (lag time) offered by the fiber network make it the superior service in my opinion.  

How much customer support does Starlink provide?
Most of the Starlink relationship is handled through their app. From enrollment to set-up and billing administration, the system is all automated. Their FAQ/troubleshooting section is very helpful. I have not had to contact Starlink or deal directly with customer service for any reason, so I cannot speak to the quality or availability of customer service.

Was it difficult to get the Starlink equipment and to set it up? 
When I went to sign up, they said there would be a six month wait to get the equipment. I paid a $99 deposit to hold my spot, and it was later applied to the equipment purchase. Surprisingly, I received notice that my Starlink had become available just a couple of weeks after my initial deposit.

I received the box quickly. Set up was simple - I did it myself in less than 20 minutes.  Prior to purchasing, I had used a feature on the app that guides you to the best location on your property to place the dish - the place where there are the least obstructions. I initially had the dish and its tripod stand set up on my deck, but then my landlord offered to put it on my roof for the clearest view of the sky.

I followed setup instructions, plugging the wi-fi router into AC power and connecting the router to the small rectangle satellite dish with the provided 50 ft. Starlink cable. (There is no ethernet port on the Starlink router. You must purchase an adapter if you want to plug in to the Starlink router directly.) Then I opened the Starlink app to initiate setup. The satellite wakes up and automatically finds the best direction for service. You name your network and create your wi-fi password. It was that simple.

Have you experienced weather or other related outages with Starlink?
Before moving my dish to the roof, I experienced just a couple of very brief weather-related outages that lasted for seconds, a blip. I did not experience that again once I relocated the dish to the roof.If you do not have a clear view of the sky or you are surrounded by trees and buildings, there will likely be connection issues and you would experience service interruptions more frequently. I have heard of people who ran the visibility test from the app and could find no suitable place on their property to place the dish – too many obstructions.

Starlink subscribers can see real-time visibility, range, speed, and other statistics on the app whenever it is connected. You can see patterns in the level of service as well as any breaks in the signal.

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