Starlink coverage can make remote work far away

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network allows remote workers to work anywhere — in an authentic sense. As long as an employee’s satellite dish has a view of the northern sky, Starlink can provide broadband access.

For employers, Starlink’s coverage means remote workers in places like rural Vermont, Louisiana and Pennsylvania can be more resilient than when using wired and wireless internet. As long as Starlink users have a generator, employees can potentially continue working even in the event of a power outage.

Starlink said users can expect download speeds between 100 and 200 megabits per second (Mbps), but speed and quality of user experience may vary. Some users interviewed for this story said dropouts or short service degradations can impact Zoom and Teams video calls.

After installing Starlink about 14 months ago at her home in rural Vermont, Christine Hallquist saw 200 Mbps downloads and 80 Mbps uploads. Those speeds have dropped since then as Starlink adds customers. During the day, when you use it for work, the data transmission rate is around 30 to 50 Mbps for downloads and 12 Mbps for uploads, she said.

“It’s better than nothing, and it enables remote workers,” Hallquist said. She sees it as a stop-gap until fiber internet is widely available, something she’s been working on as executive director of the Vermont Community Broadband Board in Montpelier. The council, which launched last year, is overseeing a five-year rollout of “every address” fiber in Vermont, a billion-dollar investment paid for by state and federal governments and telecommunications companies. The first building grants for fiber deployments were awarded last month, Hallquist said.

Tom Evslin, who lives in Stowe, Vermont, is also a Starlink user. Although he now has access to fiber internet, he keeps Starlink because he is interested in the technology and has blogged about it.

In short: Starlink for remote work

Good enough for remote work

“It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly good enough for remote work,” said Evslin, who has a long experience in enterprise technology, which includes co-founding ITXC Corp., a wholesale provider American voice over IP call company, listed on NASDAQ. company until its acquisition in 2004. In 2016, he retired as president of NG Advantage LLC, a compressed natural gas supplier, which he co-founded with his wife.

When Starlink service gets weak, there’s a “very brief point” of signal degradation, Evslin said. He doesn’t see the problem on his side, but “people I talk to tell me that I froze for a moment or gave up”. He said it doesn’t happen more than once every half hour or less.

Starlink coverage requires a clear northern exposure. Otherwise, trees or other obstructions may interfere with the signal.

It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly good enough for remote work.

Tom EvslinStarlink User

“Even if there are only a few branches in the way, you can count on a lot of dropouts,” Evslin said.

The problem of tree clogging is something Forrester Research analyst Glenn O’Donnell knows from experience. He works in the rural Pocono Mountains and, despite promises from a cable provider, has been unable to get an Internet cable in Pennsylvania. It uses Starlink.

Starlink’s coverage is a “godsend for anyone who wants to step into the boonies and experience that quality of life while still being connected to the real world,” O’Donnell said.

But, he added, “it’s not perfect”, noting that it suffers degradation of services because of the nearby forest.

O’Donnell said he could experience a total loss of connection during video calls. “Outages don’t last long enough for something like Zoom or Teams to give up, but it will tell you, ‘Hey, you got a problem here,'” he said. He said it wasn’t a prolonged outage, but even a few seconds can affect a call.

Software Workarounds

There are workarounds to improve Starlink. Hallquist’s house in Vermont also has DSL, but the quality is poor. And Starlink drops for a few seconds at a time during video calls. To solve the problem, she uses Speedify, a software tool that can combine multiple Wi-Fi connections. She uses Starlink, DSL, and cellular wireless connections in concert to compensate for any bandwidth drops. She called it “really wonderful” software.

Speedify “looks at latency and loss” in network packets, said Alex Gizis, CEO and co-founder of Connectify Inc., which makes the software. So if the network detects latency and gets, say, 2 Mbps from Starlink and 3 Mbps from DSL, it adds the bandwidth of both to create a stronger connection without changing the IP address, he said. .

SpaceX, which did not respond to questions from SearchHRSoftware, recently increased its Starlink service rates from $99 per month to $110 with a one-time hardware cost of $599. Analysts expect continued improvements as it increases its satellite coverage.

“A seamless connection depends on satellite and bandwidth availability,” said Vivek Suresh Prasad, a consultant with Northern Sky Research (NSR), a market research and consulting firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It focuses on the satellite and space sectors.

SpaceX’s first phase involves deploying a network of more than 4,200 satellites, a plan approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the International Telecommunications Union. It currently supports over 2,000 satellites and added nearly 400 satellites in the first quarter of this year.

“More satellites in orbit will mean better connection reliability,” Prasad said, adding that SpaceX has received FCC approval for 12,000 long-term satellites.

In its latest VSAT and Broadband Satellite Markets report, NSR estimated that even with advanced fiber optic connectivity, the number of broadband satellite users in North America could reach 12.4 million households.

Starlink draws users to rural Louisiana

State Representative Mike Johnson, a campaign Republican from Pineville, Louisiana, announced Starlink’s upcoming availability last year on his Facebook page. He received more than 100 responses from interested people. He then held a mass video call with SpaceX’s Starlink officials, and some 400 people attended, “which is a lot for my area,” he said.

Starlink officials didn’t want the call recorded, “and they were very careful about the claims they made” about the service, Johnson said.

Starlink became available in his region in October and November last year, he said.

“The ease of setup was almost like an Apple product,” Johnson said. A user sets it up, plugs it in, gets a clear line of sight and finds a satellite, he said.

Johnson has heard of people in his district installing Starlink, and “overall it’s been positive,” he said.

Personally, Johnson said he didn’t see a difference between Starlink’s network and what he was getting from his wired internet. Louisiana, like Vermont, is also rolling out broadband with federal and state funds, but that will take several years, he said.

Johnson said a service like Starlink is going to have a significant impact on his district, given that some areas of his state don’t have good cellphone coverage. Real estate agents have told him that broadband access can increase property values ​​by 25%.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget. He worked for more than two decades as a corporate IT journalist.

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