Venus and Starlink Satellites. Photo / Mike Lewinski / Creative Commons

Starlink Halves Broadband Fees with New Plan

Starlink has introduced a new service plan slashing its monthly fee by half, and directly challenging Spark’s slower, now more expensive offerings.

Venus and Starlink Satellites. Photo / Mike Lewinski / Creative Commons

Starlink has introduced a new service plan slashing its monthly fee by half, and directly challenging Spark’s slower, now more expensive offerings. The new ‘deprioritized’ residential plan is priced at $79 per month, a sharp drop from the standard $159 monthly fee, making the high-speed internet service more affordable.

Details of the New Starlink Plan

The new deprioritized plan, only available in NZ offers savings without substantial sacrifices in speed or data availability, the company says. Subscribers to the plan can expect download speeds ranging from 50-100 Mbps, a solid reduction compared to the 150-250 Mbps speeds of the standard service, but miles faster that ADSL. Both plans from Starlink offer unlimited data usage.

A key aspect of the new plan is that during peak usage times, priority will be given to the standard service. This means that deprioritized plan users might experience slower speeds when the network is congested. Despite this, the plan’s affordability and speed make it a compelling option, when compared to Spark’s $85 service, which has been criticized for its lackluster performance.

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

Chronic Connectivity

The Barrier’s struggle with reliable and affordable internet connectivity is well-documented. The island’s reliance on ADSL and mobile internet has been fraught with challenges, primarily due to the lack of a direct fiber connection to the island and the limitations of a radio relay system to the Coromandel Peninsula. ADSL users often report severely diminished speeds in the evenings, rendering the service nearly unusable, while mobile internet coverage is hampered by the island’s challenging topography, leading to inconsistent and unreliable service.

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

Starlink’s High-Speed Alternative and its Drawbacks

Starlink has been a game-changer, offering speeds up to 300 Mbps. However, the high cost of the service and the equipment has been prohibitive. While the introduction of the new deprioritized plan addresses the issue of affordability, there’s still the issue of the system’s electricity usage. Starlink’s satellite dishes are known for their high power consumption, particularly taxing on battery banks.

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Pa Beach Cafe, 82 Blackwell Drive, Tryphena, Great Barrier Island (Aotea)

The Elon Musk-owned company’s second-generation dishes have been designed to be more energy-efficient, typically consuming between 50 to 75 watts, with the introduction of a “Sleep Schedule” feature that reduces power consumption to about 20 to 30 watts during periods of inactivity. That’s still a fair whack for many, and some suggest just turning it off at night.

A New Era of Internet Connectivity

Existing Starlink subscribers interested in downgrading to the new plan can make the change either through the Starlink app or directly on the Starlink website at starlink.com. In the app, users should click on the profile icon, select ‘Manage Subscription,’ and for those with more than one unit, choose the applicable Starlink before tapping ‘Change Service Plan.’ Then, scroll to the bottom, select ‘Deprioritised,’ and note that changes will take effect in the next billing cycle. The new plan is exclusively for residential customers using the system in a single location.

Your move, Spark.

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