I’d like to have persons somewhat familiarized with Starlink and what it does. Then we’ll get into some more details. A good video with information is linked below.
Basically – it’s a satellite internet service that is faster than the old ones. Dish had satellite internet, but due to how far those were, the latency was horrible. You had internet – but very slow.
Starlink uses low-orbit satellites to give you MUCH improved service over the other satellite internet providers.
With that out of the way – let’s get into some details that you may need to move forward.
The cost of the Starlink hardware (as of this writing – 2023-02-06) is JMD$60,500. It’s quite a lot, but considering a few things…it’s not that bad.
Your kit contains:
- A wireless router. No LAN.
- A power cable for the router.
- A standing mount for the “dish”.
- A “dish” – satellite receiver.
- A really long cable attached to the “dish”.
That’s it. Nothing else. The main issue I had is no LAN – but we’ll get into that later. You can buy multiple addons from their site at https://shop.starlink.com/ if you so desire.
The reason it costs so much – aside from the general hardware cost – is the fact that this includes:
- The hardware (listed above).
- Shipping – using DHL.
- Delivery – again – DHL.
The fact that it includes customs makes it worth the price IMO. Especially considering that the cost in the USA is around USD$599 (USD$600 basically).
The shipping done by DHL in Jamaica is a bit tricky. If you’re in Kingston or some other location that has a street number, lot number, house number, etc…then you’ll get the item right at your door. Most of Jamaica doesn’t have this, so the item will most likely be delivered to the nearest DHL to your shipping address. So you’ll get a phone call once the item is available at the nearest DHL location – you go in – sign for it – go home.
I’m going to apologize for some of the low quality pictures you’ll see. But here we go.
The box is about 2ft by 1ft. You get the previously listed items.
The “dish” plus the stand. A really long cable. And the router. Above you’ll see the “dish” on the stand with the router on the right.
The box is very neatly packed. I recommend saving everything and making a note of how it was packaged. You can then put it back if you want to return it after the free trial period (30 days) is up.
Once you get everything out – you’ll see what I was talking about. The cable is really long – probably 75 feet or more. They have 75ft and 150ft cables on https://shop.starlink.com/ – so I assume you’re shipped with one of those.
There’s a card included that gives instructions. The assembly is straightforward and pretty easy. There is just one thing I need to stress though…
DO NOT TRY TO MOVE THE UNIT BY HAND. The “dish” has motors and will automatically attempt to align itself once it’s connected. Once you’re done it should be the items below connected by a cable – and a power cable from the router to JPS. I advise you to get a UPS to reduce your downtime and protect the equipment from surges/outages.
It’s best to have the device placed where there are no visible obstructions. I assume that based on our location, a clear view to North is advised. You can secure the device to your roof or elsewhere – I’ll get into some other details about the device later on.
You’ll realize in the above image that the “dish” is aligned North. I noticed this prior to securing the device to a roof. It always faced North. Since Jamaica is a small island in comparison to a large continent like the USA – I assume all “dishes” will be aligned to the same location.
Prior to setting up – it’s advised to get the Starlink app from the related store – Apple or Android.
You should already have a login to the Starlink website – use that when signing into the app.
Once you have everything up and running – you’ll see a network called STARLINK that is open. Connect to it and go through the setup in the app. In my case – the device may have been used previously and not reset properly. The person obviously didn’t like the unit or company. My network was called “STINKY”.
Everything prompts you on how to proceed. Set up the wireless network and leave the system to do what it needs to do.
It’ll take a while for everything to be done – 15 minutes to 30 minutes – but it’s pretty straightforward as I said. Here are some other images and information to give you some ideas beforehand.
As stated – the device needs a clear view of the sky. It’ll align itself automatically once it’s on.
Once everything is done you’ll have internet available by wireless. As I said – really easy to set up and configure. But – let’s get into some other things.
While Jamaica is a small place – the device is location locked. You can’t take it from MoBay to Negril and expect it to work. You’ll probably get an error like below.
There’s also some information when you try to move the location – either online through the website or through the app. And I’ve got a tip for that.
Hit the option to UPDATE ADDRESS and ensure you have Google Maps handy. Find your address and get the coordinates. As an example – “18.502432073010848, -77.91474222411976” is the location for the airport in MoBay. The Starlink app location doesn’t support that many characters, so it may end up as something like “18.502432, -77.914742” instead. But just get it as close as possible. Once you put that in – give it another 15-30 minutes and it’ll come right up.
Another method is to use the “PLUS CODE” for the location. Still using MBJ Airport (Sangster’s) you can find the code once you scroll down if it’s not visible.
If the “PLUS CODE” is not available, click on your location on the map. It will drop a pin and show the coordinates at the bottom.
Once you click on your coordinates, it will bring up the “PLUS CODE” on the left.
In the picture above, I picked a random location close to the airport – you’ll see that the “PLUS CODE” is on the left once you click on the coordinates at the bottom in the prior image. It’s best to use that on the StarLink site – it seems to work better. On the off chance your location doesn’t have a plus code after following the instructions, just use the coordinates. Copy and paste into the StarLink site and you should be good to go.
One issue with this may be the zooming in. You could be attempting to change the location and notice that the option is not available. You must zoom in as close as possible on the available map to get the location changed. Just bear in mind the coordinates from Google Maps – or use the website.
They offer portability to be able to move the device wherever you want. For an additional JMD$2,000 monthly. This was an issue from what I saw – because the Boat & RV version is not available in Jamaica. We only get the fixed address version so you’re a bit limited in what you can do. A workaround would be to use it at home and then – if you’re going elsewhere temporarily – take it and pay the extra JMD$2,000 so you’ll have internet wherever you are.
Another issue I had is the standard the device uses. We have basically 6 versions of wireless standards.
- A – Old original standard.
- B – Next available standard.
- G – Probably the most common standard with older devices.
- N – Not too old standard which has gained traction.
- AC – Pretty recent standard which isn’t available on all devices.
- AX – The latest standard.
WiFi6 or WiFi-6 is also Wireless AX. The latest and greatest. It’s a bit unfortunate that the device stops at AC (5) and didn’t go to AX (6) – but it’s still not bad.
For the more technical persons – let me put this here.
So it depends on a couple things. However – WiFi-6 is the latest but WiFi-5 is where the Starlink router stops – as of this post.
There is no network port available on the device. If you want that – you’ll have to buy the addon for it.
Now – they advertise 200Mbps for you to see, but what you get will vary.
The finalized speed test showed 130Mbps down with 19Mbps up. That’s FAR better than you can get on DSL locally, and especially in areas where there is no available internet – or poor signal (like Portland) this would be awesome.
What I found confusing is the upload speeds. Note that there are two separate test results above. The LEFT is from the phone to the speed test server in use. The RIGHT is from the “dish” to the satellite. You’ll notice it has awesome download link speeds – but the phone is much slower. Yet – for some reason – the upload on the phone side is higher. I assume this is part of the available bandwidth based on network saturation. It’s possible that more people going online will reduce the overall performance, but they are improving it constantly – so maybe things will be about the same?
Some persons complained about the latency being high, but I didn’t see that. Considering how the technology is, you’re getting great service for about JMD$1,000 more than what FLOW would charge for their HFC service. And you are less likely to have downtimes like FLOW would give.
For the more technical persons – here are two latency tests. Click to enlarge and view the results.
Overall – for a satellite service to average under 80ms during tests – that’s a win IMO.
It’s best to use the app to do everything. With the exception of the location aspect – the app is the way to go. With it you can change all the settings for the wireless along with power management settings for snow melting and such – which we don’t need in Jamaica. You can also “stow” the device from the app. This basically puts it back in position so you can package it for storage or shipping.
While Digicel and FLOW are the best available options for home internet, Starlink is a strong third contender. If you need a multi-WAN setup you can use Starlink as your failover.
If you’re in a location where HFC or fiber internet is not available from either FLOW or Digicel (FLOW has both based on availability and area – Digicel is fiber only) – then Starlink is the best option.
If you live in a remote location and want to be mostly off-grid – then Starlink is your best option.
Price is pretty good in comparison to the USD costs – the monthly charge is just JMD$1,000 more than what you’d pay to FLOW for current HFC packages – you probably won’t need an “expert” to do the install – and there is no contact. You can stop your service whenever and resume when you’re ready.
The only drawback is the initial cost for the hardware, but once you’ve gotten past that – you should have fairly reliable service.
I’ve just not done so far is test it in a storm or on a really cloudy day – but I’ll update once that’s done.
UPDATE – 2023-05-31
So I’ve tested during rain with clouds – and I’m still getting over 100Mbps down. I’ve done tests and gotten 200Mbps+ while it’s raining – so it’s safe to say it works quite well. Once you have the cables secured, you should even be able to use it during a storm. I don’t recommend that though – you could have damage to the device. It’s best to take it down if you have the threat of a hurricane and then put it back after. While wind and rain shouldn’t affect it, you have no control over flying debris.
I forgot to mention – though it’s kind of obvious – StarLink is an INTERNET ONLY provider. You won’t get cable TV or land line. If you go the StarLink route, it would be best to have an IPTV or other subscription if you’re a TV person.
For the phones – most places locally (Jamaica) have land line numbers that you can call directly. The locations you’d want a land line to call would mostly be those with toll free numbers listed. Using the Yellow Pages website to look up a company will usually provide a regular number you can call directly. JPS for example, has no direct number on their own website, but they do have a regular number on the Yellow Pages listing. You want to use regular numbers if you have a mobile plan with limited or unlimited minutes, as calls to toll free numbers in Jamaica are not toll free from a mobile device.
For me, the fact that the service is less likely to be down when FLOW and Digicel might be – that’s a major win. We even had recent events in the last week or two from this update where most of the island was out of service if you were a FLOW user. This happened for a day or two and affected both residential and business customers. Digicel also had one of the longest outages I’ve ever heard of from a user in Mandeville – from about 6PM the evening before until about 11AM the next day. This is unheard of with Digicel from when I’ve seen, as outages do not usually last more than 2 hours. Maintenance with Digicel is also done in the very late hours, and customers are still given notice by SMS about the maintenance being done.
That’s it for now. Hopefully the information helps. Weigh the pros and cons and take your pick.