How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (2022)

If you live in rural America, you know firsthand that millions of people don't have cable or fiber internet options, let alone access to the gigabit offerings available in some parts of the country. As a result, many people are stuck with a connection between 25 and 40Mbps through DSL or a similar service.

Even President Joe Biden has remarked(Opens in a new window) on the fact that 35% of Americans in rural areas don’t have access to high-speed internet. And according to the US Census(Opens in a new window), more than a quarter-million Americans still use a dial-up connection. Even worse, 13 million people don’t have internet access at all.

Although 25Mbps is fine for one or two people to check email and social media, it’s not sufficient for online gaming or 4K video streaming. And what if more than two people in your household want to get online? Well, it’s not that different from the old days when you had to yell at your siblings to get off the phone to use your dial-up modem.

When I moved recently from a well-connected Utah city to a far more rural area in Idaho, I faced this exact problem. But there was another wrinkle: My job—remotely working for one of the leading tech review sites in the world—places higher demands on my home connectivity than simply checking email or streaming the occasional YouTube video. For instance, the process of testing laptops often involves downloading as much as 70GB of data in a day! Obviously, the 40Mbps speeds (at best) that local DSL providers in southeast Idaho quoted me wasn’t going to cut it.

Thankfully, there’s a new alternative on the market: Starlink, the satellite-based internet service from Elon Musk’s SpaceX. With promises of 150Mbps speeds and dead-simple installation, it has been an essential part of taking my tech-heavy lifestyle out of the city and into the country. (It's also a favorite of PCMag readers.)

How Can You Get Starlink?

Getting Starlink for your home isn’t difficult. It’s simply a matter of visiting Starlink.com(Opens in a new window) and confirming that your location is covered by Starlink’s service area—as easy as plugging your address into the SpaceX coverage map—and then signing up for the service.

The initial signup takes moments; you only need to provide your physical address and credit card information. As part of signing up you’ll find out whether you can expect your Starlink kit within the usual 2-week window of time, or if you’ll be placed on a waitlist for an unspecified amount of time.

When I signed up, I fully expected to be waitlisted, since I had seen other Idaho users online talking about waiting weeks or months for their Starlink kit. I never experienced those delays, though, and received my kit a short two weeks after signing up.

And getting the kit is the hardest part of the whole process. Monthly billing is straightforward and handled online; it’s an automatic payment, so you can set it and forget it after the initial sign up. And whenever you’re ready to stop service, you can handle that through the same web portal, with no early termination fees or cancellation penalties.

How Much Does Starlink Cost?

When you sign up for Starlink, you don’t sign an equipment rental agreement the way you would with, say, a cable company. Instead, you buy the Starlink hardware upfront. It’s relatively expensive ($599, plus a $50 handling fee), but there is no recurring equipment expense. Service then costs $110 per month for as long as you want the service. There is no long-term contract and you can stop and start as you need.

What Comes In the Starlink Kit?

The Starlink kit(Opens in a new window) comes with everything you need to get going: one Starlink dish, a dish mount, and a Wi-Fi router base unit. It also includes a power cable for the base unit and a 75-foot cable for connecting the router to the dish.

Additional accessories are available through Starlink(Opens in a new window), including longer cables, additional mounting hardware, and adapters for connecting other equipment over standard Ethernet.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (1)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

The box includes a fairly simple instruction sheet with illustrations and no text (except the URL to Starlink support). But this page doesn't show you some of the fine details. For example, the dish mast clicks into place in the mounting tripod, but you must first thread the cable through the tripod and plug it into the dish mast. The cable has two ends, both with the same connector type, but with differently shaped plugs. This makes it fairly simple to keep straight which end goes into the dish and which end goes into the base unit. All the plugs have moisture-resistant seals and should withstand inclement weather.

The setup process is pretty quick (it doesn't take long to get a live connection after you open the box), but fine-tuning the dish position for optimal performance may take longer.

Unboxing the Starlink Kit

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (2)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

When you open the aforementioned Starlink kit box, you should see a few things inside: the setup instructions, the Starlink receiver dish, a mounting base, the Wi-Fi router, and a 75-foot cable to connect the dish and router.

(Video) How to set up Starlink satellite internet

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (3)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

I received the current kit version: The second-generation dish has a rectangular shape, whereas the original was round.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (4)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

The router comes with a power cable, but the dish doesn’t need one—it uses the single connector cable to provide both power and data.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (5)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

The Starlink Wi-Fi router is the key to your new speedy internet connection and serves as the base unit for filling your home with Starlink internet. You should find a good spot for the router by following the same guidance for placing standard Wi-Fi routers.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (6)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

On the bottom are two connections: one for power and the other for connecting to your Starlink dish. There are no Ethernet ports for wired connections. And instead of the multiple glowing indicators you see on a standard cable modem, the Starlink unit has just one that shows you whether the router is on. And it’s not even visible on the front of the unit—it’s on the bottom, next to the cable connection. If you want to check that your Starlink system is online, you need to use the accompanying smartphone app (available for Android and iOS).

How to Install Starlink

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (7)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

Assemble the Dish, Stand, and Cable

Once you unpack your Starlink kit, you need to assemble the dish and mounting base. Start by unplugging the connection cable from the dish: It arrives plugged-in and you need to unplug it to seat the dish mast into the mounting base.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (8)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

Then, insert the dish mast into the mounting base. Take care to line up the groove on the mast with the corresponding rail inside the mount.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (9)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

Once the mast is in place, you plug in the 75-foot connector cable with the straight plug connector. As mentioned, the two ends of the cable use differently shaped connectors, so it should be simple to determine the correct end.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (10)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

Be sure to insert the cable connector far enough. You should hear a distinct click when the plug seats properly into the socket.

(Video) Starlink Satellite Internet - Unboxing and Setup - Super Easy!!!

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (11)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

The entire assembled dish and mount was easy enough for me to carry and move around myself.

Find a Good Position for the Dish

The next step is to mount and position the assembled dish for optimal satellite reception.

Find a good position by using the Starlink app; it has an interactive tool that helps you find and validate the proper position for a new dish, but the guidelines are easy enough to understand. You need an unobstructed view of the sky, with at least 100 degrees of obstacle-free space above and around the dish. A large unobstructed swath of sky is necessary because the dish does not maintain a fixed orientation. Although you mount it in one place, the dish has a motor and will readjust to maintain a connection with passing satellites.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (12)

Some ideas for mounting locations include an open field, a rooftop, or some other elevated structure (such as a pole) that's above obstructions such as fences, buildings, and trees.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (13)

With the Starlink app, you use your phone's camera to scan the viewing area of the dish. The process involves pointing the camera up at the sky, which may require some creative positioning on your part to let you view the screen and move the camera. Ideally, you want the camera in approximately the same position as the dish, which is roughly knee height. I found the easiest way to do this was to lay on the ground and look up at my phone as I scanned the area.

The app walks you through this process, during which you point the camera up at the sky, then sweep around the outer edges of that viewable area. The app places green dots onto the screen to indicate unscanned areas within the dish's field of view and a handy arrow shows you what area to scan next.

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Once you scan a sufficient amount of sky, the app takes some time to process the data. After a few moments of number crunching, it tells you whether or not you can get clear reception from that position.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (17)

Mount the Dish

After scanning and validating your position, it's time to mount the dish. For basic installations like mine, that simply entails placing the dish mount on the ground. But you might not have the open space that I do or live in a neighborhood where you feel safe leaving your $600 dish out in the yard.

The mounting base includes holes in all four feet for screwing down securely. You can use these to attach the mount to a roof or a fixed structure, as well as stake it to the ground. The kit does not include screws or stakes, you have to supply those yourself. For alternate mounting options, such as on a pole or a prior satellite dish mounting assembly, you need to obtain an additional adapter.

If you're worried about the weather, specifically ice and snow, the Starlink dish houses an internal heater that senses freezing temperatures and will warm up to melt away any frozen obstructions on the surface.

Run the Cable

Once the dish is in position, you need to run the cable to the router. For most users, this means running the cable into your home. For my initial setup, I simply led the cable through an open window: It's a simple (and temporary) solution, but it works fine.

Other options include drilling a hole through an exterior wall. Starlink sells accessories for routing cable through standard walls and another for bypassing masonry or concrete.

Once you get the cable into your home, you need only plug it into the Wi-Fi router.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (18)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

To do this, use the angular plug connection on the 75-foot connector cable. Once again, this plug connection has a special shape that should help you identify it. It plugs only into the Starlink router and only in the proper orientation.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (19)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

You also need to plug in the power cable for the router, which powers both the router and the dish.

Once your connection is active and the router is running, return to the Starlink app. There, you can monitor the status of your network connection.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (20)

It takes a few moments for the dish to establish a connection to the satellites above, so be patient. It's a quick (but not instantaneous) process. Once the dish establishes a connection, the app informs you that you are online and prompts you to set up your Wi-Fi name and password.

(Video) GAME CHANGER! | NEW Starlink Gen 2 | Unboxing | Setup | Satellite Internet

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (21)

How Fast Is Starlink?

Once you complete all these steps, you should have internet access. Just note that the promised speeds may not be available right away. After the installation process, it may take a full 12 hours for the Starlink system to reach optimal performance. During that period, the system downloads the latest drivers; scans and maps the satellites around the dish; and calculates the optimal positions to communicate with the different satellites above. These connections adjust automatically, so you shouldn't have to worry about constantly tweaking your setup.

How to Get Starlink Satellite Internet and Set It Up the Right Way (22)

(Photo: Brian Westover)

In initial use, the Wi-Fi signal has surprisingly far reach, covering my entire five-bedroom house and much of the yard.

I plan to fully review the Starlink internet service after I've had the chance to test it for a few months, so stay turned for a full review. In the meantime, check out our review of T-Mobile's 5G Home Internet service, another alternative to cable and fiber connectivity that might be available where you live.

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FAQs

Which direction should I point my Starlink? ›

The Starlink dish will face north for most customers in the US. But, depending on where you are in the world, it can point in different directions. The Starlink dish is self aligning, and doesn't require you to aim it. It will automatically tilt and spin to achieve the maximum signal from the satellites.

What is the best way to set up Starlink? ›

Getting Starlink for your home isn't difficult. It's simply a matter of visiting Starlink.com(Opens in a new window) and confirming that your location is covered by Starlink's service area—as easy as plugging your address into the SpaceX coverage map—and then signing up for the service.

Do you install Starlink yourself? ›

Unlike many other satellite internet companies, such as Viasat or HughesNet, Starlink does not send out a professional to install a satellite dish and router in your home or business for you. Instead, if you purchase Starlink internet, you will be shipped a self-installation kit.

How do Starlink satellites connect to the Internet? ›

All you need to do to make the connection is set up the satellite dish at your home. It receives the signal and passes the bandwidth on to your router. There's a Starlink app for Android and iOS that features augmented reality to help customers pick the best location to place their receivers at home.

Where do I mount my Starlink dish? ›

Simply put, the dish will either need to be mounted higher or above any potential obstructions. For better results, we recommend trying at the highest point of your roof or at the top of your chimney. That said, make sure it's away from any tall objects that are nearby.

How far can Starlink dish be from house? ›

Each dish connects to a PoE injector which plugs in, with ethernet out to a router. One will serve a house about 400 LOS feet away and the other will serve a house about 700 feet away with trees in between. Starlink will provide up to 300 mps.

How far does Starlink router reach? ›

Starlink Wifi Router
Wi-Fi TechnologyIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards
RadioDual Band - 3 x 3 MIMO
SecurityWPA2
Environmental RatingIP54, configured for indoor use
RangeUp to 185m² (2000sqft)
4 more rows

Can I bury Starlink cable? ›

Don't directly bury the cable unless it is rated for direct burial. Otherwise, water intrusion will eventually make your connection unreliable. The original cable is NOT rated for direct burial. Use 23AWG (or larger) CAT6/CAT6A cable, which will contribute around 0.03Ω/meter for a continuous run.

Will Starlink work during storms? ›

Starlink should work during a thunderstorm. As long as the rain is not heavy enough and your dish can still receive the signal from the satellites, you should be able to connect to the internet.

Is Starlink worth the money? ›

Starlink says this plan is aimed at businesses and high-demand users who need fast internet at all times. If you fall into one of those categories and can afford the astronomical costs, we say it's worth it. It's definitely the fanciest satellite internet available.

Do you need electricity for Starlink? ›

The High Performance Starlink dish uses 110-150 watts on average. This includes the antenna, router, power supply, and cables. When idle, High Performance uses about 45 watts. High Performance runs off of 100-240V, 50-60Hz, and draws up to 4.5 amps.

Do I have to pay monthly for Starlink? ›

Internet from Starlink costs $110 per month for residential use, plus you pay a one-time charge of $599 for the hardware. Starlink Business — with twice the antenna capability of the residential offering plus higher throughput and faster internet speeds — costs $500 per month with a one-time equipment cost of $2,500.

What are the disadvantages of Starlink? ›

The 5 Biggest Disadvantages Of Starlink Internet
  • Coverage is still lacking. Thomas Dutour/Shutterstock. ...
  • Self-installation is needed. JL IMAGES/Shutterstock. ...
  • Slower and less reliable than cable. Rido/Shutterstock. ...
  • Obstructions can cause connectivity issues. Thomas Dutour/Shutterstock. ...
  • Won't work as well in cities.
23 Jun 2022

Is Starlink WiFi or cellular? ›

Starlink is currently designed to be a non-mobile internet provider. Its satellite dishes are meant to be stationary and provide internet for homes and businesses. This does mean that you can connect to your Starlink network using your cell phone, but only via wifi and within proximity to your router.

Is Starlink tied to your address? ›

Roaming: Officially, at least, each Starlink device is tied to its registered address, with no guarantee of service elsewhere.

Do you have to mount Starlink on roof? ›

Starlink sells a pipe adapter that allows you to use your own pole/mast up to 2.5 inches. Pole Mount is good for: When you don't want to mount to your roof or house, or need to get Starlink into an open area away from your home.

Can Starlink router enter garage? ›

Yes you can. The second router can be configured in bridging mode. So all traffic via that router is just passed to the network of the first one.

Does the Starlink dish point straight up? ›

Mostly up. While the exact direction that a Starlink satellite dish should face will depend on where you are located, it will most likely need to be pointing somewhere between 15 and 35 degrees from being pointed straight up and angled to the north.

How many devices can Starlink router handle? ›

Starlink has no limit on the number of devices you use, so the only limit is what your hardware can support. The Starlink app says that the Starlink router can support up to 128 devices. Not that you're going to want to connect 128 devices though.

Can I put Starlink router outside? ›

Weather resistant

Designed and rigorously tested to handle a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions, Starlink is proven to withstand extreme cold and heat, hail, sleet, heavy rain, and gale force winds – and it can even melt snow.

Do I need a router with Starlink? ›

Yes and no. Starlink internet is delivered as a self-installation kit that includes a router. If you want to know if you need to use a router at all, then the answer is yes. That is, unless you have the desire and the knowledge required to use your computer as a DHCP server.

Is Starlink faster than Wi-Fi? ›

Both are gaining popularity as groundbreaking Internet networks, but they are fundamentally different in how they're built and how they work. So which one offers you a faster and more reliable Internet connection? Fiber has a much faster maximum and median speed than Starlink or any other satellite provider.

Is Starlink faster than 5G? ›

Speed and Latency

Also, Starlink provides its users with download speeds of 100 to 200 Mbps, making it ideal for online gaming, video calls, and content streaming. 5G typically has a peak speed of 10 Gbps and a latency of 1ms.

How many square feet will a Starlink router cover? ›

It features tri band radios and Wifi 6E, two big performance advantages over the Starlink Mesh Nodes. You'll get two nodes, which is enough to cover up to 5,500 sq ft. Add on nodes are available if you need to further expand the system.

What happens if my Starlink dish breaks? ›

Starlink Tech Support was great. After my dish got damaged by my own fault, I contacted them and they shipped a new kit at no cost even before I had shipped them the damaged receiver.

Can Starlink go through trees? ›

Many times, those areas are heavily treed, so a clear view of the sky might be difficult. If you live in a wooded area with lots of tall trees, Starlink will work if you can mount the antenna correctly.

Is Starlink 2022 worth it? ›

Compared with its closest satellite competitors, Viasat and HughesNet, whose speeds are five or six times slower, Starlink offers a much better user experience, and the huge rate at which its already sizable constellation of satellites is expanding means that it will only keep getting better and better.

Will Starlink work in wooded areas? ›

With affordable, reliable high-speed internet access difficult to find in some regions, Starlink provides a new satellite internet option. For those in wooded areas, tall trees can interfere with satellite reception, proving disruptive to consistent internet access.

Does Starlink work in extreme cold? ›

Starlink can withstand extreme cold, heat, hail, sleet, heavy rain, gale force winds, and even rocket engines.

Will Starlink have unlimited data? ›

The company said less than 10% of the service's customers utilize more than one terabyte of data per month. It's a noted shift in the Starlink service, which previously advertised “no data caps.” SpaceX updated its online messaging to now say “there are no hard data caps,” and pointed to the new policy.

What is the life expectancy of a Starlink satellite? ›

Starlink satellites have a five-year projected lifespan and the design of new satellites being launched is improved with each successive deployment.

How much electricity does Starlink take? ›

Standard Starlink and RV Power Consumption

Once it acquires several satellites, it'll use 45-75 watts. However, if there is no activity on your Starlink WiFi network or it's not connected to any satellites, the actual power consumption may fluctuate as low as 20-30 watts.

Can I connect to Starlink without dish? ›

As do all satellite internet services, Starlink will require a dish. Satellite internet technology uses satellites to bounce internet signals into and out of space. At each ground location involved in the transfer of signals, there must be a satellite dish to send and receive those signals.

Will Starlink have cell phone service? ›

T-Mobile and SpaceX have announced that Starlink satellites launched next year will be able to connect directly to the carrier's phones over existing cellular bands.

Can I share Starlink with my neighbor? ›

No Resale. You may not resell access to the Services to others as a stand-alone service, unless agreed to in a separate agreement with SpaceX.

Can I take my Starlink anywhere? ›

For an additional monthly fee, Starlink subscribers can now take their “dishy” anywhere on their home continent that provides active internet coverage.

Is Starlink cheaper than normal internet? ›

Even though it's newer and technologically advanced, it's not significantly more expensive than the most popular cable internet plans.

Why is Starlink controversial? ›

The controversy began when traces of DNA from StarLink corn were found in taco shells and other corn related products. Although there are several varieties of Bt corns in the market, StarLink was illegal in human food. It was only approved for animal feed.

Will Starlink get cheaper in the future? ›

Starlink will get cheaper and cheaper. That is the nature of technology which is one of the few industries whose products depreciate with time. New tech replaces older tech and as it does so, the old tech decreases in price.

How long does it take to get Starlink after ordering? ›

Orders are fulfilled Monday through Friday. Most orders ship within 2-3 days business days of being placed. Due to constraints from our carriers because of current events, shipments may be delayed.

Can I use Starlink internet while traveling? ›

You pay month to month, even if you are not using it. RV — at $135 a month, this is the most recent tier and is the one that has so many RVers excited. Like portability, you can use Starlink wherever you go.

What is needed for Starlink internet? ›

Once users subscribe to Starlink, they receive a Starlink kit that includes a satellite dish, a dish mount and a Wi-Fi router base unit. Starlink also comes with a power cable for the base unit and a 75-foot cable for connecting the dish to the router.

What equipment comes with Starlink internet? ›

What Comes In the Starlink Kit? The Starlink kit(Opens in a new window) comes with everything you need to get going: one Starlink dish, a dish mount, and a Wi-Fi router base unit. It also includes a power cable for the base unit and a 75-foot cable for connecting the router to the dish.

How far can I move my Starlink dish? ›

Starlink satellite dishes are geo-restricted to the customer's registered address and will not function anywhere else.

How far away will Starlink work? ›

The goal is to provide internet service anywhere in the world via satellite. Starlink differs from traditional satellite internet in several ways. Its satellites are only 300 to 500 miles above Earth, while traditional communication satellites are 23,000 miles above Earth.

Is Starlink fast enough for streaming? ›

However, Starlink still reached a median download speed of at least 60Mbps in North America during Q2 2022, which is more than enough for at least one connected device to do most everything on the Internet including streaming video, downloading games, and chatting on video with friends and family.

Is Starlink faster than WIFI? ›

Both are gaining popularity as groundbreaking Internet networks, but they are fundamentally different in how they're built and how they work. So which one offers you a faster and more reliable Internet connection? Fiber has a much faster maximum and median speed than Starlink or any other satellite provider.

How close do you need to be to a Starlink base station? ›

– Maximum range from Starlink terminal to Starlink ground station is about 400 miles. – Next generation Starlink satellites, some already in orbit, will communicate with each other by Laser, to extend coverage distances more than 400 miles from the Starlink ground stations.

How many satellites do you need for Starlink? ›

In total, nearly 12,000 satellites are planned to be deployed, with a possible later extension to 42,000. Starlink provides internet access to over 500,000 subscribers as of June 2022.

What are the problems with Starlink? ›

In another post, a user noted that their Starlink download speed dropped to just five Mbps — much lower than the 60-ish Mbps threshold at which one can adequately stream and game. Still, the company continues to throw satellite constellations up into low-Earth orbit like candy.

Is Starlink worth buying? ›

Starlink says this plan is aimed at businesses and high-demand users who need fast internet at all times. If you fall into one of those categories and can afford the astronomical costs, we say it's worth it. It's definitely the fanciest satellite internet available.

What is better than Starlink? ›

HughesNet, which relies on satellites in a much higher orbit than that Starlink uses -- which means data takes a little longer to travel back and forth -- offers plans with maximum download speeds of 25Mbps. That's faster than some of the plans available with Viasat but no match for Starlink.

Is 5G faster than Starlink? ›

Speed and Latency

Also, Starlink provides its users with download speeds of 100 to 200 Mbps, making it ideal for online gaming, video calls, and content streaming. 5G typically has a peak speed of 10 Gbps and a latency of 1ms.

Can you move Starlink from house to house? ›

Per Starlink's FAQ, it "enables users to temporarily move their Starlink to new locations in order to receive service anywhere within the same continent Starlink provides active coverage." Portability is not free, however. It comes at an additional $25 monthly fee (on top of the regular Starlink fee).

Does Starlink need to be mounted level? ›

Since Starlink requires a clear view of the sky in order to connect with the satellite network, many customers use a permanent mount above ground level. Additional mounts and accessories are available on the Starlink Shop once you have placed your order.

Do you need to ground Starlink dish? ›

It has: "Starlink meets the U.S. National Electrical Code (NEC) grounding requirements and includes the necessary lightning protection. However, any user who lives in an area with lightning should have the appropriate lightning protection installed in accordance with your local electrical code prior to using Starlink."

How long does a Starlink satellite last? ›

Around 5 Years

This was requested specifically to reduce the time it would take for a dead satellite to de-orbit. The reason I said 'around' 5 years is that decay times can be affected by solar storms and other factors, and the satellites will be at slightly different orbits.

How much does Starlink cost a month? ›

High-speed, low-latency broadband internet in remote and rural locations across the globe. $110/mo with a one-time hardware cost of $599. Starlink's new Flat High Performance designed for in-motion use is now available. Learn more.

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