[Update: April 1, 2021 - 1:27 PM] I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Now, Xplornet IS DOWN. I mean - it is completely OFFLINE - attempts to load a page generate the "Hmm. We're having trouble finding that site" from Firefox on the CentOS Xplornet connected box. I have not even *saved* the comment I wrote below this one, saying that Xplornet is slightly better than Starlink, because the latency is lower. That's just been proven WRONG. Starlink is still up and working - but with occasional update-latency. Looks like Starlink wins now. This is just pure comedy... It's like playing "Whack-a-Mole" with skanky networks. Like I said below - if I have to keep only one network I WILL KEEP THE STARLINK NETWORK because it *mostly* works - and my partner can watch dump-in-chunks Youtube videos while I do real work - and we don't notice each other. The Starlink latency drives me to distraction - but Starlink does not just go away the way Xplornet does - sometimes for days.
[Update April 1, 2021 - AM] Starlink is great - when there are satellites. But today, it is up and down like the toilet seat in the single bathroom of a house full of girls and boys. It is annoying as heck, and often - and I mean every 5 or ten minutes often - it has a "page-update" latency of 20 or 30 seconds. When the page (stock quotes) won't update, I check the other machine - which uses a direct microwave link to a wi-max tower for Xplornet - and I get an *immediate* page refresh. The Starlink high-download speeds are of little value, if you are looking for a *real-time* update. Starlink is a really good and cool idea - but it is not quite there yet. It's a good "proof-of-concept" beta-test example, and it let SpaceX raise up another billion dollars (which it certainly needs, no doubt, to orbit more birds), and it maybe will be a great system, once the constellation of the low-orbiting satellites is built out. But as it is now - truth be told - crappy, low-speed (but low update-latency) Xplornet beats it hands down.
[Update: Mar 31, 2021] - Comical - the solution is to run both networks - two boxes, both Linux/CentOS 64bit - works actually ok. They compliment each other. Xplornet is slow but does not drop out too often, and Starlink is blisteringly fast - but goes away for 20secs to over 1 minute every so often (random - but typically *much* more often than one can tolerate.) So, today we did some fiddling about on the markets, and it seemed to work ok. Like many things now, the solution for us, looks to be this curious hybrid of both approaches - the space-based network, and the terrestrial microwave connection. Hard work still pays off (ie. the harder you work on a project, the luckier you seem to get.)
[Update: Mar. 29-30, 2021] - Noticing consistant and serious latency issues today. Although Starlink speed is high, once connection is made to a site - the latency to make a site re-connection can be curiously high. (Seriously high...) Unclear what the issue is. We are now running in full-parallel with Xplornet wi-max. We are noticing some really curious issues. Eg: our monitoring hardware is indicating a maximum data transfer-rate throttling on *this* website here of ours, seems to be set to 1 megabit per second. On a different data-service access, we are getting - today - latency that is significant.
[Starlink Mar 25, Mar 26/2021- working good, working quick.] [Starlink was down - Mar. 24, 2021] - Starlink net went completely offline this AM, as of 8:04 AM EST. System stayed down for over an hour. We powered off all Starlink hardware, re-powered, and it reconnected. Latency very is high today - several seconds for a DNS query & ping. Looks and feels like serious traffic overload issue, but unclear what the problems is. We purchased another wireless router, and are now running a Linux box in parallel on Xplornet wi-max, which seems to be working well. We need active redundancy, it looks like. ]
Starlink speed tests (Mar. 20th 2021), with Starlink Dish on roof of Guest-House wing, dish moved two feet further, closer to centre of roof. Big improvement in upload speed! (We have gone from 5 to 6 mbps, to getting > 15 mbps here. First time we've seen this big an upload number. Connecting to server in Montreal.)
We now get >85 mbps downlink, >15 mpbs uplink!
The really impressive number is actually the uplink number - at 15.89 mbits/sec. Downloading is just listening for a signal, like Sirius XM radio. No big deal. An antenna the size of your thumb (like a modern Ford F-150 has) can work fine for this.
What is tough, is transmitting up to the bird, and doing it with sufficient throughput, so some useful work can be accomplished. This takes power and accuracy.
The little Starlink dish (I was surprised to see the flat-face covering it), does uplinking transmission well, for it's small size. For now, streaming is pretty much out - since the frequent connection dropouts require browser-initiated page reloads. I can't even get Radio Caroline to stream real-time, much less a video stream-signal. Youtube - because it transmits "chunky" - seems to work pretty good.
But the Starlink technology is solid. We hope Mr. Musk and SpaceX can maintain their first-mover advantage. For downloading and uploading in big "chunks", this technology is quite usable and effective and workable - even at this early "Beta" stage. With data download rates of > 80 mbps, you are looking at roughly 10 megabytes per second, and so 100 megabytes in 10 seconds. If a feature film is roughly 1 gigabyte (1000 megabytes), then we are looking at being able to download a 1 gigabyte movie payload in 1.67 minutes. So, less than 2 minutes for a movie to download it all. Not bad.
The Starlink business model is attractive, and the technology behind it, suggests that as it grows, it should get *better*, not worse. I remember Xplornet was not too bad at first - but the company would simple oversell and signal-saturate the microwave towers where their wi-max was offered from - so eventually the signal became, weak, spotty, and often non-existant - and often a full re-boot of the modem/transponder was required to re-gain access.
As the Xplornet system and subscriber base grew, it got worse and worse, less and less reliable. It started good, and became really poor and awful. Speed degraded, and for most of last year, we were typically less than 2 mbps download at best. The system was painfully slow and would frequently disconnect completely. For most of January 2021, our Xplornet wi-max internet simply did not work at all. Xplornet just borked our link. The repair technician - whom I had to pay $140 to, for a "re-aim" of the antenna transponder, told us that Xplornet had simply removed several wi-max "panels" from the tower my antenna was pointed at. Really!
Starlink should track an opposite path - it's a bit spotty now, with what looks like roughly one 30 second or more signal dropout each hour. But as more small satellites are lifted into orbit, it should get much better over time. Elon Musk has even suggested speeds of ~300mbps are possible in the near future (fall of this year, or maybe early 2022)
More information on our experience with the Starlink Beta Test Program is provided below. Thanx, Elon, for the opportunity. The Starlink System looks good so far, from the pointy end where the User sits. :)
The Starlink connection is a bit kinky - you get this very good no-latency kind of fast-fast fine experience - but mixed with regular periods (it seems somewhere around every 15 minutes) where your latency goes up to 20 or 30 *seconds*!, as your satellite drops below the digital event horizon.