Tesla Owner Puts Starlink To The Test

Tesla Owner Puts Starlink To The Test

by Gill D on November 06, 2020

Reddit user, Wandering-coder is a proud Tesla vehicle owner who has also become a SpaceX Starlink beta tester. As we have recently seen with Tesla’s new Full Self-Driving software, Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk uses the novel approach of tapping consumers to evaluate new products through its Beta testing programs.

With his new Starlink kit packed in his Tesla, Wandering-coder took to the forests of Idaho to assess the capability of Musk’s new satellite constellation. And his succinct opinion was: "Works beautifully.”

The Tesla owner did a real-time video call and other tests using a max power supply of 300W and for the entire test the antenna system remained active and only used 116W of power. 

Wandering-coder wanted to put Elon’s comments to the test. In July, Musk said that Starlink’s end-user terminal dish would be a basic installation and all it needed was an obstructed view of the sky to transmit and receive internet signals from Starlink satellites that are placed 342 miles above the Earth. Once setup, the antenna would use its motors to self-orient and automatically acquire the satellite signal. Musk reiterated that the end-user would not need any prior experience to operate the terminal and it would be a simple “plug-and-play” device.

Tesla owner, Wandering-coder confirmed this with his quick installation on his Reddit post and then wanted to see what happened if the view was obstructed by. He moved the antenna under the trees and agreed that performance was less desirable but were also expected:

"It didn't work well with a heavy tree canopy. I would be connected only for about five seconds at a time. Make sure you have as clear a view of the sky as possible!"

The Starlink Beta tester was happy though with the overall test results when he had the antenna setup with a clear and direct view the sky and those results line up Musk’s claims on performance, which were to expect data speeds to vary between 50Mbps to 150Mbps with a latency between 20 to 40 milliseconds. The fastest speed that the Tesla owner got was 135Mbps for download and 25Mbps on upload with a latency of 21 milliseconds.

When line of sight was obstructed, which could be from bad weather, buildings, or trees, results showed a download speed of 46Mbps, an upload of 15Mbps and 41 milliseconds latency.  

While it’s great to be invited to be a Starlink Beta tester, it doesn’t come free. The public beta service costs $100 a month and you need to purchase the antenna terminal, tripod, and Wi-Fi router bundle for $499.

Wandering-coder’s review of the hardware was that it surprised him how cost-effective the equipment was given its high-quality. Although it may seem a hefty amount to fork out when compared with fixed broadband, Wandering-coder feels with the standard of quality of hardware, he would’ve expected the setup costs to be higher:

"Everything is of an extreme build quality, and this works significantly better than I had ever imagined. It feels like it's from the future. Given a top-tier cell phone costs in the $1,000 range, I am completely amazed I have my hands on a setup like this for ~$500, so I am biased positively towards this service. The antenna itself seems like it should be many thousands of dollars, so I just want to share how fortunate I feel to have access to this."

However, it’s not clear at this stage if this setup cost was offered to Beta testers only. Musk has said the biggest challenge is getting the fees of the layout to be affordable for end-users.

And so, the Tesla/SpaceX CEO delivers on his vision to now deliver superior internet from anywhere, even if it's from the roof of your Tesla EV.

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