Wondering if you should choose Starlink Canada for residential, roaming, or marine internet?
Before getting down to all the details, pros, and cons, let’s give you a quick summary.
Then, if you’re interested in finding out all the reasoning that goes into our conclusions, you can always read on for more.
The short answer is: “It depends.” Starlink has its downside, specifically its cost which is on the high side.
The upside is that you can get internet access and good connection speeds in places where service is poor or non-existent.
Starlink’s roaming plans are even costlier than the domestic ones. Choose this option if you’re an adventurer who likes to stay connected even when you’re on a mountaintop.
The “boat” option from Starlink is specifically for people who want internet access at sea.
How Good is Starlink Coverage in Canada?
Coverage is unlikely to be an issue for you no matter where you are in Canada. There are some caveats, however.
For example, if you’re near (or surrounded by) objects that can block a Starlink signal, you’ll have to site your antennae for the lowest number of dead spots, and there may be times when you have no line-of-sight and therefore no connection.
Mountains, buildings, and even trees can block your signal.
Using Starlink in Canada means you’ll face another challenge to your connectivity: the weather. Heavy precipitation and very thick cloud cover can weaken or block your signal.
However, this is only a factor when the weather is very bad indeed. On the whole, you should have a signal, albeit with the chance of intermittent connection, even during a snowstorm.
Wondering if obstacles will affect your ability to connect to Starlink? They’re currently offering a free trial, and we’d suggest using it to download the Starlink app.
It allows you to check signal coverage using your smartphone. Do remember to check from a location where you would have an antenna installed – for example, on the roof of your house.
Domestic Starlink in Canada: Rural Areas and Alternatives
As we mentioned in our introduction, you have a very good case for choosing Starlink if you have poor service from other providers – in other words, you can’t get connected or connections are slow and unreliable. This normally applies to remote rural areas.
Starlink isn’t entirely without competitors in this scenario. For example, Xplore is available in remote areas and is cheaper than Starlink.
However, don’t expect the connection speeds that Starlink is capable of. At the same time, it should be good enough for streaming and offers a serviceable alternative.
In parts of Ontario, you can use Execulink, and it’s both faster and cheaper than Starlink – and if you live in Saskatchewan and are within reach of SaskTel’s fibre network, the same applies.
The bottom line? Shop around first!
Starlink Roam in Canada
If you’re into the RV lifestyle or love to go hiking and camping in remote areas, Starlink Roam offers you a reliable (within reason) internet connection.
From a hiking perspective, the Starlink backpack kit doesn’t add too much extra weight – about 3.5kg for your kit. However, most people opting for Starlink Roam would simply use it from their RV.
But, if you plan to use it while your RV is in motion, you’re looking at about six times the price of the basic kit.
Setting up Starlink
The Starlink website will tell you that all you need to do is set up your dish, wherever you are, point it at a bit of open sky, and you’ve got internet.
While this is perfectly true, not everyone will be as happy with the idea of leaving their dish unsupervised outdoors. And when there are obstacles, the best way to get a clear view is to get some height.
For domestic users, the most common solution is to mount the dish on the roof of a home, while roaming users would mount it on the roof of their RV.
However, this does add to setup costs because you’d have to buy a mount – it isn’t included in the standard Starlink kit. And of course, once you’ve got it mounted, you’d need to route the wires which can be quite a big job.
Starlink does not provide any installation services, so you might want to factor in the cost of hiring someone to do the job for you when considering your initial setup costs.
Starlink Customer Service in Canada
No matter where in the world you may be, Starlink customer service may be something of a bugbear.
In theory, you should be able to create support tickets using your Starlink app – but then you have to wait for a response, and that could happen quickly – or not-so-quickly.
There’s certainly no support desk that you can simply call. We reported on Starlink customer service during 2023, concluding there were signs that it’s improving.
But a report from late 2023 seems to indicate that when there’s a widespread issue or an unusual one, Starlink is still not what you’d term great at customer service.
This brings us back to similar conclusions to the ones we’ve made when considering other Starlink features.
If you’re in a remote area and don’t have good internet, Starlink is a reasonably reliable and fast alternative.
However, you’re pretty much on your own with it in terms of setup, and support is limited to using the app and hoping for the best.
How Fast is Starlink in Canada?
This is a tougher question than it may at first seem. To give you an idea of why, let’s look at Starlink Residential speeds.
They can go all the way up to 110 Mbps and sometimes higher – but on average, you’re more likely to get 50-65 Mbps.
During peak use times, connection speeds can go all the way down to 25Mbps. Even at its best, there are fibre plans that will outstrip Starlink by a long shot.
For example, if you go for a top-of-the-range plan like Bell’s Gigabit Fibre 8.0 plan, it will outstrip Starlink for speed.
We should know that the whole point of using Starlink is to get internet connectivity where you might otherwise struggle.
If you fit that profile, it’s unlikely that fibre is an option for you, and in that case, Starlink is a definite contender for your attention.
The same will be true if you have a travelling lifestyle. In that case, Starlink grabs an added advantage by having such a wide coverage area.
Discounted or Refurbished Kits
After massive price increases for Starlink hardware and plans for Canada during 2022, Starlink offered some relief in 2023.
It offered a “limited time” lower price on hardware, and refurbished kits were also made available to Canadians at lower prices.
The latest offers came in November, and since it is not the first time that Starlink has produced special offers, we can hope that these will be fairly frequent.
Although this is speculation, it’s fairly normal for new technologies to be launched at higher prices with costs coming down later on.
Besides this, Starlink recently launched its “next gen” dish and if market reception is favourable, they may have older inventory that they want to clear at reduced prices. We will have to wait and see.
Since hardware costs are among the biggest drawbacks of opting for Starlink, they may become more competitive if they’re able to better align them with going market rates.
Naturally, this would make Starlink a better option for city dwellers than it currently is.
A Lucky Break for Alberta
With hardware costs being rather high for most Canadian internet users, you could be in for a lucky break if you live in Alberta.
That is, if you live in County of Forty Mile, County of Warner No. 5, or Cardston County.
Local government announced that they were running a pilot project to determine the viability of encouraging satellite internet instead of other technologies – and they were offering hardware subsidies to applicants from November 2023.
In counties where the subsidy is offered, it is limited to people who have no other option to get connected.
Should the pilot project be successful, it may be expanded to allow more people in remote areas to benefit from the subsidy.
Summing Up Starlink Pros
- There’s a big market for Starlink in Canada because there are many remote areas where it’s the most reliable option for good internet. These areas will most likely be out-of-the way places where fibre isn’t available.
- Coverage in Canada is very good indeed, so getting a signal shouldn’t be a problem – although obstacles and bad weather may affect your connection at times.
- Starlink is likely to be the best option for people who want to travel with their internet. You can use it right across Canada.
- Starlink is always uncapped. So you don’t pay more when you use it more.
- In most parts of Canada, you will get serviceable connection speeds, but they will vary.
Summing Up Starlink Cons
- Setup costs and subscription costs are both higher than they would be for other forms of internet. You may have to buy additional accessories including mounts and extra cable if you want to do a static Starlink installation at home.
- Installation is up to you. If you aren’t planning to use a mount and are happy to pack your dishy away between uses, this won’t be a problem.
- Service is variable depending on the weather and the presence of obstacles that block satellite signals.
- Customer service is not always good, and your only option is to use the app to create a ticket. After that, you have to wait for service which may or may not be prompt.
How to Order Starlink in Canada
1. Decide on a Starlink Package
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons of Starlink in Canada and have decided to go ahead, your first step is to decide on a package.
You have three options: Starlink Domestic is for home use and is registered to your residential address. It won’t work anywhere else.
Starlink Roam works almost anywhere but costs more. If you want to use Starlink at sea, you will have to choose the “boats” option.
Next up, go to the Starlink website and choose the package you want. If you are taking a residential package, enter your address on the page under “service address.” This will indicate your coverage.
2. Create an Account
Now, you can go about creating your Starlink account, select a plan, and place your order.
Of course, at this point, you provide payment details and the address to which you want your Starlink kit to be shipped.
3. Order Any Accessories You Need
If you want to create a fixed installation, order the necessary accessories. They will be shipped separately.
The basic kit consists of the dishy or antenna, the router, and a very basic portable mount as well as cables. Check whether the cables will be long enough for your needs.
4. Get the Starlink App
Download the Starlink app before you receive your kit. You can use it to check out where you would place your dish to get the best possible reception. It’s quite simple to use and you can also use the app to track your shipment.
If you’re worried about the notorious Starlink Waitlist, it shouldn’t affect Canada. Starlink lifted the waitlist in most areas in June 2023.
Starlink in Canada: Fit for Purpose at a Price
Although Starlink isn’t necessarily the best choice for people living in urban areas, there is little doubt that it wasn’t initially created to serve that market.
For those who fit squarely into its target market: people in remote areas, travellers, and mariners, it’s fit for the purpose. And in some instances, it’s the only option to get connected.
Pricing is, indeed, high, but it certainly costs something to launch all those satellites into orbit.
Taking this into consideration, we could even say it’s cheap at the price – certainly if your choice is between no internet and Starlink internet!