Starlink’s Australian speeds impressive, but out of reach for most customers

When SpaceX brought its Starlink satellite internet service to Australia last year, the Elon-Musk founded company had a bold vision. Starlink’s network of low-orbit satellites were designed both to help close the broadband gap experienced by rural communities, and to offer a competitively-priced alternative to traditional internet service providers.

It’s been less than 12 months since Starlink’s Australian launch, and the program is still only offered in public beta mode — and even then, it’s not yet available to the majority of Australians. However, broadband testing and analysis company Ookla has finally released data on the real-world speeds Starlink users can expect in Australia, and how the service compares to fixed-line broadband such as the NBN.

How fast is Starlink in Australia?

Ookla examined millions of satellite and fixed-line internet speed tests performed by consumers during the third quarter of 2021, both in Australia and in eleven other countries including New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. The company found that Starlink is currently out-performing both satellite and fixed-line median broadband speeds in most countries, although latency is still noticeably higher.

According to the Ookla report, the median download speed for Starlink in Australia is 138.12 Megabits per second (Mbps), considerably ahead of the fixed-line median speed of 51.17 Mbps. Starlink’s median upload speed during the quarter was 22.63 Mbps, again ahead of fixed broadband at 18.03Mbps.

However, Starlink speed tests did record a higher latency score, indicating that response times for the service are slightly slower when compared to broadband options such as NBN. Starlink’s median latency is 42 milliseconds, versus a faster 10 milliseconds for fixed-line connections.

While Starlink’s 138Mbps download speed matches the service’s promised speeds (listed as between 100Mbps and 200Mbps), it’s important to remember this figure is the median result of Ookla’s speed tests, not the average. Essentially, this number falls right in the middle of the entire range of speeds recorded by Ookla during the third quarter of 2021.

This is also why pitting median Starlink speeds against fixed broadband isn’t quite an apples-to-apples comparison. Customers on the NBN’s fixed line plans have access to maximum download speeds ranging from 12Mbps, all the way to 1000Mbps, depending on the plan, provider and NBN connection type.

The mid-range NBN 50 speed tier is currently the most popular choice for Australian consumers, and generally offers typical evening download speeds around 50Mbps (although this will vary between providers). But if your home is serviced by the right technology type, you can potentially access average speeds well over 200Mbps — and even up to 600-700Mbps — on an NBN 250 or NBN 1000 plan, although expect to pay from around $110 per month for these ultra-fast options.


Read more: Starlink home internet explained


Is Starlink worth the wait?

With the service still in public beta mode, Starlink’s estimated availability locally is hard to pin down. There are likely thousands of Australians currently on the Starlink waiting list; while pre-orders for the service are open across the country, demand is still exceeding the program’s capacity. Starlink’s Australian operating license also means it’s only able to service ‘low and remote density’ parts of the country, so metro and major cities are likely to be excluded.

If you do live regionally, and are interested in giving Starlink a try, your next barrier is price. To order Starlink’s setup kit, you’ll need to fork out $709 for the kit itself, plus another $139 in shipping costs — and that doesn’t include the ongoing monthly service fee. An unlimited Starlink plan is currently priced at a hefty $139 per month in Australia, so you’ll be paying well over $1,000 for your hardware and first month’s service.

The big pay-off is that you’ll potentially have access to much faster speeds than are currently offered by either SkyMuster satellite NBN or fixed wireless NBN, which are the two NBN options available to rural areas unable to connect to a fixed-line broadband plan. Starlink plans also come with unlimited data, which is another feature that isn’t available with satellite NBN service, so there’s no need to ration your usage or divide your data allowance into peak and off-peak hours.

To give you an idea of how NBN’s SkyMuster satellite prices are priced, along with typical features and inclusions, we’ve compiled some examples below.

The following table shows selected published NBN Satellite plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
iiNet Logo

Sky Muster 200GB Sonic

  • Standard Evening Speed (NBN 25)
  • 60GB peak / 140GB off peak

min. cost $54.95 over one month

200GBMax Data**/billing period $54.95Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
iiNet Logo

Sky Muster Standard Plan

  • Standard (NBN 25)
  • 60GB peak / 190GB off peak

min. cost $64.99 over one month

250GBMax Data**/billing period $64.99Advertised Data^^/billing period
Skymesh Logo

Sky Muster Plus

  • Standard (NBN 25/5)
  • 512/256Kbps max download and upload speed during peak hours
  • 2048/512Kbps max download and upload speed during off-peak hours
  • Data limited to 50GB per month for video streaming and VPN use

min. cost $69.95 for first month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69.95Advertised Data^^/billing period
Southern Phone Logo

Satellite Medium

  • Standard (NBN 25)
  • 100GB peak / 100GB off peak

min. cost $130 for one month billing period

200GBMax Data**/billing period $130Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Harbour ISP Logo

Rocket 25/5

  • Standard (NBN 25)
  • 150GB peak / 150GB off peak
  • $15 one-off cost

min. cost $3,240 over 24 month billing period

300GBMax Data**/billing period $135Advertised Data^^/billing period
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Want an NBN alternative? Consider 5G internet

If you’re not living in regional Australia, you may be curious about Starlink as an alternative to your current NBN, fibre or even ADSL plan. Unfortunately, living in a major town or city means you’re unlikely to qualify for the service any time soon, but you may want to consider a 5G home internet plan if your home has network coverage.

The Telstra, Optus and TPG/Vodafone 5G networks are still in the roll-out stage, and 5G access will probably remain out of reach for Aussies in rural locations. But customers in metro areas with newly-launched 5G coverage may have a selection of 5G internet plans to pick from.

A small number of telcos including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, TPG, and iiNet now offer 5G home internet to eligible customers, with prices beginning from $79.99 monthly for unrestricted speeds, and from $$69 per month for plans with a 100Mbps speed cap. Compared to fast NBN plans —  and to the Starlink satellite service — these plans are surprisingly competitive, although the value lies in how strong and reliable 5G is at your location.

The following table shows selected published 5G home internet plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
TPG Logo

5G Home Broadband Max Plan

  • $74.99 per month for existing TPG customers
  • No speed restrictions
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $79.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $79.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period
iiNet Logo

Home Broadband Max

  • No speed caps
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $84.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $84.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go to Site
Internode

Home Broadband Max

  • No speed caps
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $84.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $84.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Vodafone Logo

Ultimate 5G Home Broadband

  • $80 per month for existing Vodafone customers
  • No speed restrictions
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $85 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Telstra Logo

5G Home Internet

  • 5G speeds
  • Speeds capped at 25Mbps after 1TB allowance exceeded
  • Includes Telstra 5G Home Modem ($0 when you stay connected for 24 months)
  • Special offer: first month free for new customers. Terms apply.
  • Special offer: 3 months free BINGE standard. Terms apply.

min. cost $85 over one month

1TBMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Optus Logo

Optus 5G Internet Entertainer

  • No speed cap
  • Includes the Optus supplied Nokia modem
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $90 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $90Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
Spintel Logo

SpinTel 5G Unlimited

  • No speed cap
  • Nokia 5G modem included
  • Special offer: $80 per month for first 6 months, then $90 per month ongoing. Terms apply.

min. cost $90 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $90Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

The following table shows selected published 5G home internet plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Spintel Logo

SpinTel 5G Unlimited

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • Nokia 5G modem included

min. cost $69 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69Advertised Cost^^/billing period
TPG Logo

5G Home Broadband Premium Plan

  • $64.99 per month for existing TPG customers
  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $69.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $69.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period
iiNet Logo

Home Broadband Premium

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $74.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $74.99Advertised Data^^/billing period Go to Site
Internode

Home Broadband Premium

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 set up fees and no lock-in contract
  • $0 5G modem
  • Special offer: one month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $74.99 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $74.99Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
Optus Logo

Optus 5G Internet Everyday

  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee
  • Includes the Optus supplied Nokia modem
  • Special offer: one month free

min. cost $75 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Cost^^/billing period Link to provider unavailable
Vodafone Logo

Premium 5G Home Broadband

  • $70 per month for existing Vodafone customers
  • Up to 100Mbps speeds
  • $0 setup fee with no lock-in contract
  • $0 modem when you stay connected for 36 months
  • Special offer: First month plan fees free. Terms apply.

min. cost $75 over one month

UnlimitedMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Cost^^/billing period Go to Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Overall, while Starlink may eventually be a game-changer for Australians living in areas currently not serviced by NBN or reliable broadband, it’s an extremely expensive alternative (and still only available in beta mode). If you have other options available at your address, you may want to look around before forking over $1,000 to join the program’s Aussie waiting list.

Editorial credit: JL IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

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