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SpaceX's Starlink Review – Four Months In

1 hour ago

Created a post 152 points @geerlingguy

SpaceX's Starlink Review – Four Months In

@yardstick 1 hour

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

No mention of this in the article, but I know someone with starlink and the router received a dhcp lease with a /10 subnet (100.64.0.0/10). I’ve got no problem with the CGNAT IP given, but found it odd the mask was a /10 and not a /31 normally seen in single device assignments like normally with PPP.

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@blakesterz 45 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

I just wanted to say thanks, that review was super interesting. And thanks for all your many ansible roles! I use the heck out of several :-)

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@NelsonMinar 24 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

I'm typing this message from Starlink. For me it's absolutely transformative; 10x the bandwidth I can get from any other source and very reliable.

Except for outages related to obstructions. That's a real problem and the author's situation is not good. There's ways to work around it on your property; a taller mount, a tree install, cutting some trees. But ultimately Dishy needs a clear view to the north and there's no getting around it.

I have some smaller obstructions for my install and it was a little annoying but fine. But in the past week or two it's gotten way better: my packet loss went from 2% to 0.6%. Details here: https://nelsonslog.wordpress.com/2021/07/20/starlink-improve...

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@jgrodziski 24 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

I'm one of the few client here in France for a few days. I moved from Paris to a quite isolated area (Vercors mountains) with only ADSL (no mobile coverage), and it's night and day, I now get between 100 Mbps and 200 mbps with 30/40 ms latency... I don't have a lot of time with the service to give an exhaustive feedback, but for the moment I'm able to do video conferencing and call perfectly. And the setup experience is great!

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@0x0000000 1 minute

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

> Starlink uses CGNAT

This is why I'm cancelling my subscription (though I have the privilege of multiple terrestrial providers in my area). For what Starlink charges, they shouldn't be using CGNAT. It's not an Internet connection if I can't get anything inbound.

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@only_as_i_fall 44 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

I dislike Elon Musk as much as anyone but I think it's becoming clear that starlink could turn out to be a very good idea.

What I haven't seen anyone do and something I'd be very interested to see is a comparison of the relative environmental costs of so many starlink launches in contrast to the building and upkeep of last mile connections to the backbone.

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@soheil 20 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

> Most well-known apps like Netflix, FaceTime, and Zoom, handled things well without any incident. It was really the apps and services that are obviously outsourced.

Not sure why he threw in outsourced there, but ok. I know this could be as simple as using the right library for your video chat app, but at a low level how is something like this achieved? If I establish a tcp connection with a handshake and everything and my internet connection drops or IP is changed the tcp connection gets terminated. Other than using udp is there a way to keep the tcp connection going when the IP address changes without having to establish a new connection, which takes non-trivial amount of time?

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@orzig 1 hour

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

This is an exceptionally good review, and (well small in the grand scheme of the worlds problems) a beautiful example of how a passionate happiest can sure goodness with the world. Thank you this is an exceptionally good review, and (while small in the grand scheme of the worlds problems) a beautiful example of how a passionate hobbiest can sure goodness with the world. Thank you!

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@dougmwne 1 hour

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

It's sort of mentioned, but not emphasized in this review that connection dropouts happen every few minutes for a few seconds. That makes starlink fine for any kind of asynchronous content like web browsing, torrenting or video streaming, but unusable for video calls, stream hosting, voip, or online gaming. It's implied that this is due to the trees obstructing a full view of the sky, but I have actually heard these connection dropouts are just about universal due to the constellation not having enough infill. Just a warning that for most of us we are still several hundred satellites short and some connection handoff updates away from this being a useful internet connection.

I have a property where Starlink would be perfect and I would pay triple the price to be able to do zoom calls over the connection.

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@JulianMorrison 1 hour

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

I recall reading that Starlink orbits below the usual level that other satellites are at, so they shouldn't be too much of a threat for Kessler syndrome.

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@sschueller 1 hour

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

I am curious how long Startlink will remain in beta. Looking at FSD at Tesla it has always been in beta and will probably never leave beta. The next question is if it is acceptable to sell a product to customers that will never be what it was promised to be. So in essence I sell a promise of a product but never really deliver since you know, it's still beta.

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@stefan_ 59 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

Why on earth would you continue this test when the app already tells you about one third of the dishs FoV is obstructed?

It's impossible to tell what part of this is a meaningful result and what is just a broken setup.

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@kalefranz 58 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

Real-time visualization of the Starlink constellation:

https://satellitemap.space/

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@XCSme 57 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

That is honestly a lot better than I expected. I think it is a game-changer for remote areas. You could build a house anywhere and still have energy (solar panels) and internet (Starlink).

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@BugsJustFindMe 57 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

It's been a very long time since I worked with directional radios, but it feels very weird to learn that a tree counts as a sky obstruction significant enough to kill the signal. It's just a tree, not a giant steel building or a mountain. Leaves are barely there, relatively speaking.

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@varelse 57 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

I've had Starlink for about 6 months and it is a massive improvement on upload speed at 10-25 Mb. Download speed is a mixed bag wildly oscillating from 5 to 100 Mb and back. It's okay for downloading things but it's terrible for any sort of video conferencing. There are brief dropouts on average every 6 minutes or so and my obstruction map is better than the author's. My neighbor up the street got slightly better service by mounting his dishy on a 20-ft antenna pole above his house.

Local ground service is 20 Mb download and 2 Mb upload. And that's just barely sufficient for watching streaming video and video conferencing. Gigabit service is but a mile and a half away but no one is going to pay to lay the fiber into our neighborhood. So the last mile and a half is copper from 20 years ago. I think that's going to require political will to fix and I don't think that political will exists right now nor will it in the near future. We could have paid $5,000 per house to lay it ourself but our own neighborhood couldn't come to consensus on that. Now imagine that at a national level.

So if they just deliver 100/100 within a year or two, this is an epic win IMO and I will cancel ground service. And if they don't someone else will so I'm not worried. But it took Teslas to spark the electric vehicle industry. Now there's a lot of choice. I wouldn't be surprised if something similar happens here.

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@bluepanda928752 56 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

Technology is pretty solid (no comparison to FSD), order of magnitude better than previous iterations of satellite internet. The solution is still getting our collective heads out of our asses and running fiber everywhere though

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@verytrivial 55 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

100W 24x7? That's quite a lot, right?

This adds some color perhaps to the argument that this is for underserviced regions -- they don't mean third-world or impoverished even though it sounds like that, at least when I heard people defending Starlink.

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@clvx 9 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

I’m in a rural area in Montana and luckily I have access to a 5G tower. My impression is if you are close to one, it’s better and cheaper than going with Starlink even if you have to pay extra money to set up an external MIMO antenna to improve your signal.

I think Starlink is useful in many areas and industries, but 5G home internet is reliable for many cases at least in the US. Starlink will do great in the South hemisphere where providers struggle even in metropolitan areas. I see that as a huge win for many as long as the prices go down as the current prices could be a barrier for not so wealthy countries.

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@rootusrootus 9 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

I'm waiting for my turn (I had a beta offer last year but declined to proceed at the time, now I get to wait like everyone else). Hoping that real soon it gets opened up for mobile use. I have a campsite about 50 miles away that I'd spend a lot more time at if I could work from there. Trees would be a little bit of an issue, but not a deal killer for me.

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@soheil 29 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

> Starlink uses CGNAT

Just curious what is the security implications of using carrier grade NAT? If I start DDoS'ing a bunch of websites and get blocked, does that mean effectively I also block all my neighbors sharing the same IP4? This seems like a lot of power over their internet usage.

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@xoa 51 minutes

Replying to @geerlingguy 🎙

I've had Starlink deployed for a client since mid-January or so up around the 45th parallel (near the US/Canadian border). Installed it in a brisk -20 windchill too, good times. That was kind of a best place replacement scenario even early beta, as their previous solution was a 10/2 connection that cost >$200/month, so Starlink didn't have to be stellar to beat the competition there. I was able to place it with zero obstructions. This was never used with the native router which just stayed unopened in the box, it was right into a OPNsense gateway. We left the old landline connection up for a few months with Starlink as primary and the old one as a failover. For the first month and a half or so, there were regular dropouts every day, though only for a minute or two. That noticeably dropped over the course of March, and we dumped the previous service by mid-April. Overall experience has been excellent for wireless, as good as a high quality WISP despite the much greater technical challenges. And it's continued to improve: as well as latency and uptime, bandwidth u/d has increased from around 100-130/10-30 to nearly always 220-250/30-45. At no extra price. Tell me the last time you got that from an ISP ;).

Overall experience is similar to this review, a few observations following along the review:

>Hard cable

This is annoying, but my perspective is coming from someone who does a lot of network termination and has thousands of dollars in fluke testing gear, rolls of cat8 cable and certified jacks and so on which is obviously absolutely not the norm. I needed it to go farther, but I ended up just plugging the 802.3bt injector it comes with into fiber optic anyway which thus also gave me guaranteed isolation from the rest of the network without having to worry about grounding. I suspect once it's in full service and they start to branch out they'll do a "Business Class" version or something aimed at more advanced deployments.

>Your own router

This does work fine. In order to get statistics though you'll need to static route 192.168.100.1. It's not needed for it to operate, but probably still a good idea. Lots of instructions around on the net for that. When I first set it up, IPv6 was still wonky whether you had your own router or not. Easily worked around with a permanent WireGuard tunnel for a VLAN to a cheap VPS with a static IP. Anything that needs a static IP can just get put there.

>Power consumption

Real, but as the article said in the context of rural internet pricing it's frankly fairly meaningless. Effectively means it's $105-115/month which is still so much frigging better than most options available at the speed that it's plenty competitive. If we had fiber we'd use it, but we don't.

>Latency

Where that will REALLY get interesting is once intersat optical links go live constellation-wide (can't remember the timeline on that, v0.9 for polar went up last year, I think they're now on new ones going forward). Most latency tests are local hops only, which is relevant of course and Starlink will always be at a disadvantage for. But once you start cross continents or oceans, Starlink definitely has the potential to easily beat many people's fiber connections (particularly rural ones its aimed at). CDNs are a lot, but not everything. It'll be cool to see how that affects the market.

>it's potential to increase the risk of the Kessler syndrome

This is a meme, not reality. I wish it would stop coming up. Starlink sats are in quite Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and the majority of the constellation yet to be launched will be V-band ones in V(ery)LEO. At those altitudes, natural orbital decay will eliminate debris or sats even if they fail, and if they don't they deorbit themselves. SpaceX has thought this through, part of the delay on optics was specifically figuring out how to make sure they'd all burn up.

Other planned megaconstellations higher up do indeed represent more concern, but Starlink does not. SpaceX is leveraging its overwhelming and soon to grow more-so advantage in launch capability and economics in a host of self-reinforcing ways, and this is one of them. They get to lean on higher numbers and faster replacement to get more performance and stop Kessler risk.

>Astronomy

They've been working on shading them to reduce apparent magnitude, but that only fully works when sats are fully deployed and the trains going up are there. Even reduced magnitude will still affect some instruments and observations. I'm afraid though astronomy is just going to have to deal with that for a decade, looking forward to major development of cheap space based industry allowing lunar/space telescopes like never before eventually supplanting ground-based entirely. Cold comfort to a few who really will be messed up at a point in their careers that will be awkward for that, but this is frankly more important.

>Other

This will be MIND BLOWING FOR MARINE/AEROSPACE. If you think your rural connection is bad go look at merchant marine pricing. Aircraft too obviously, but one area I think many people haven't thought about yet is the potential for other satellites themselves. SpaceX is really setting themselves up as a major space infrastructure company.

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