Elon Musk’s Starlink fast satellite internet provider has gained 6,500 new customers in France over the past year. We asked Connexion readers what they thought of the service.
Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by Mr Musk’s company SpaceX, and has been running since 2019. It has gained a total of 700,000 customers around the world this year, and is estimated to be worth several hundred billion dollars.
It aims to provide super-fast internet speeds, and to eventually be usable by mobile phones.
Starlink was initially granted authorisation in France in February 2021, based on the satellites in orbit at the time. However, France’s telecoms regulatory body Arcep withdrew its approval in April 2022 over environmental concerns.
The company regained authorisation to operate in France in June following a month-long public consultation.
The Starlink website states that the equipment costs €450, and that the monthly cost is €50. The kit sent to people’s homes contains everything necessary for installation, which – the company says – takes a few minutes.
The service is becoming particularly popular in parts of France where there is currently no fibre optic internet option available.
‘Performs really well’
Mark Charles, who lives in Gavray in Normandy said that: “I've used satellite internet here for over 10 years. The Starlink was a big improvement over the previous geostationary system. It's reasonably price competitive now,” at €50 per month.
He was able to connect his Starlink internet “via an automated system that tested the connection and switched over to a 4G network if necessary.
“The Starlink has performed really well and I’ve disconnected the 4G backup.
“It's currently providing internet for my work and also for seven Ukrainians staying with us.
“The T&C's change from time to time. I'm hoping that they'll remove the location restrictions so that it can be used with the camper van etc.”
Jim Reinsma, who lives in a hamlet in the Haute Vallée de l’Orb in Hérault, said that previously, internet had only been offered “via copper telephone connection at the non-usable-for-remote-working speed of maximum 3mb/sec.
“I have spent lots of money and time on installing satellite internet; we could not get it to work and the max speed promised was 20mb (also not great).
“The next solution came via Free with unlimited data SIMs for €16 a month. I purchased the fastest LTE/4G modem I could find (Huawei) and connected that to my home network.
“This worked reasonably well with download speeds between 50-100mb. The downside is that Free switches over to Orange for service occasionally and when that happens the modem locks up and needs resetting to lock on to the free service again. Very annoying, especially when video conferencing.
“Having actively been following SpaceX for years and registering for their Starlink Beta program in 2020, I received an invite in March 2021 and received the kit in the following May.
“This is by far the most painless telecom type setup I have ever experienced. The kit comes in a large stylish box shipped directly from Hawthorne, California. All three items are pre-connected, the dish to the modem and the modem to the power unit.
“The only thing to do is download the Starlink app on your phone, put the dish on the tripod and plug the cord into a 220v wall outlet. Register an account with Starlink and the whole initiation is automatic from then on.
“The disk will start tilting toward the sky and look for a satellite constellation overhead. This takes 3-10 minutes. Log into the Starlink router via WiFi and you are in business.
“Speeds are immediately between 200-300mb, and once I hit 400 as well. Plenty of speed and short latency for any kind of videoconferencing and to watch 4K streaming movies on multiple screens/TVs.
“While the kit cost €500 [€450 plus the first month’s subscription] – not nothing but very good quality equipment – the monthly fee for unlimited data at this performance at €50 is very reasonable.
“Furthermore we have had basically no outages worth mentioning. The performance is stellar. One time during a recabling event I could not get Starlink to re-engage. Support was very proactive and after the usual fault-seeking through elimination they sent me a whole new kit free of charge with free shipping of the old kit back to them.
“Currently we can also activate a fibre optic connection where we are, but after this great experience I am not very motivated to change.”
Another reader, who preferred not to be named in this article and who lives in the countryside Parthenay (Deux-Sèvres), said that previously he could only access WiFi through an Orange 4G package.
“It had a capacity of approximately 200GB,” he said. “We were constantly breaking the max and had to pay for more.”
“We investigated Starlink and found they offered basically unlimited for what we were using; it was a leap of faith but we decided to go ahead and purchase the system.
“The system allows us incredibly fast download: we no longer buffer on the internet and even with the storms we have had in the autumn there was no interruption to our service. [It is] a bit more expensive than I initially wanted to spend but well worth the extra.”