Satellite project offers new way to connect rural internet users

By: Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter
Source: Orangeville Banner
An Erin resident is overjoyed to have lightning-fast internet that allows him to work from home while his children watch Netflix.
Until recently, Pritesh Bhatt had the lacklustre internet service that is typical in a rural municipality.
“I was excited because we have a lot of internet woes out here in Erin,” said Bhatt, explaining that with his previous plan he would get between 10 and 15 megabyte-per-second uploads.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink satellite internet project proposes a high-speed, low-latency broadband internet service.
Starlink states its satellites are roughly 60 times closer to Earth than traditional satellites, resulting in low latency and support services typically impossible with conventional satellite internet. Starlink consists of a constellation of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low-Earth orbit.
Latency is the time it takes to send data from one point to the next. When satellites are far from Earth, latency is high, resulting in poor performance for activities like video calls and online gaming.
Bhatt said he is getting about 45 to 160 megabytes a second with Starlink. He pays about $800 for the program and $129 a month for unlimited service.
His previous plan with unlimited data charged $59 a month for three months on a two-year term. It then increased to $99 a month in month four.
“Having the kids at home and me, also working from home, when I’m in a video conference for the executive meetings I had, it became a joke; my internet all of a sudden acted up,” said Bhatt. “That was something I had to deal with.”
Bhatt has previously lived in Milton, Vancouver and New York City, where he experienced high internet speeds. He moved to Erin to live in a quieter town, but with company executives placing work-from-home measures on employees, he started noticing how low the internet speeds were for his needs.
“I can work from home nice, but my internet sucks,” said Bhatt. “Why can’t there be better services here? That’s why we started looking for other options for the internet, which is another reason we put up an antenna that cost us $3,000.”
He thought the antenna would help him receive better service, but it did not. Instead, he replaced his television satellite dish and with the Starlink dish. He then connected it to his modem inside his house.
Starlink is now in the initial beta stage both domestically and internationally, with plans to reach global coverage of the populated world in 2021.
The company states beta users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50 megabytes to 140 megabytes a second. The package comes with Starlink, Wi-Fi router, power supply, cables and a mounting tripod.