Hello Starlink fans!
I will be chronicling my experiences with the Starlink service. I hope you will find this blog to be interesting.
In about June of 2020 I paid a $99 deposit to get on the waiting list for Starlink service for my location in the mountains of Colorado.
Every now and then I would log in to the Starlink web site to see what it said about when service might become available. Eventually the web site said that the service in my area might become available in about December of 2021.
Then toward the end of 2021, an email showed up letting me know that I was invited to pay the $499 to get the Starlink kit. I was interested to see that the kit that was offered to me was the rectangular kit rather than the round kit.
What are the pros and cons of the two kits? I gather, from reading various discussions, that if you have the round antenna (“Dishy McFlatface”) then you have the option of not using their router. You can just connect your own router to the power supply. But if you do that, the smart phone app won’t work any more.
A drawback of the round antenna is that the hundred-foot cable is permanently attached at the antenna. So if the cable gets damaged, you have to replace the antenna.
The router that comes with the round antenna has an ethernet port built-in.
So when the kit with the rectangular antenna became available, users set to work to compare the two kits. One difference is that the antenna cable is 75 feet instead of 100 feet. Another difference is that you can unplug it at both ends. That’s much better of course. That way, if the cable were to get damaged you could replace it and not have to replace the antenna. It is possible to purchase replacement antenna cables in lengths of 75 feet or 100 feet.
The setup of the router for the rectangular antenna is that the router serves as both the power supply for the antenna and also as the router. This is different than the situation with the round antenna where the power supply and router are separate boxes.
The router for the rectangular-antenna system is made so that it could be outdoors. The router for the round-antenna system is not made so that it could be outdoors.
The router for the rectangular-antenna system does not have an ethernet port. Lots of comments in the discussion groups have been unhappy about this. If you want an ethernet port, you have to purchase a separate ethernet adapter that costs $20. I ordered one of these and after more than three weeks it has not yet been shipped.
For me the most interesting and important potential feature is that the router for the rectangular-antenna system has a “bypass mode”. This is not well documented but I think it eliminates the NAT (network address translation) function in the router and turns off the wifi in the router. The idea would be that you could then use your own router and do your own wifi (if you want wifi).
The physical hookup is that you unplug the antenna cable from the router. You plug that cable into a jack on the ethernet adapter. The ethernet adapter has a short cord and plug that plugs into the router in the place where the antenna cable was previously plugged in. If you then just plug in an ethernet cable into the ethernet adapter, I imagine you can get ordinary NAT-type ethernet connectivity to the LAN side of the router. Or you can turn on “bypass mode” using the smart phone app. As I say, I gather that if you do that, the NAT gets turned off and (they are not very clear about this) maybe the wifi gets turned off as well.
At this point I assume what happens is that whatever device is plugged into the ethernet adapter will receive one IP address by means of DHCP, and that IP address will be the WAN IP address received by the router from the Starlink network.
What kind of IP address will this be, you might wonder? Of course what one hopes is that this would be a routable IP address. Starlink makes clear that you can’t get a static IP address. But will it at least be a routable IP address? Right now I don’t know the answer. From discussions around the internet I get the impression that the answer is “no”. Apparently Starlink is doing “carrier-grade NAT”. My impression is that “carrier-grade NAT” does not really mean anything other than “NAT that you are stuck with because the carrier does not want to go to the trouble to give you a routable IP address”.
The next question of course is whether you are going to be able to get IPv6? And I think the answer, at least with the rectangular-antenna service, is “yes”.
So the kit arrived at the end of December. I got everything installed. It works.
There is a switch in the smart phone app that would supposedly permit you to separate the 2.4 gHz wifi network from the 5gHz wifi network. This would permit them to have distinct network names and distinct passwords. But I tried and tried and the app never was able to make this happen. I opened a trouble ticket. Eventually a tech support person called. She explained that this part of the app does not work right. But she can split the network at her end, remotely. She can set the system names and passwords at her end, remotely. I don’t like this at all and I told her so. What if later I decide I need to update the passwords, will I have to open another ticket and wait some days for another phone call? She said unfortunately yes.
So at this point I am waiting and waiting for them to ship the ethernet adapter.