2degrees bringing forward Starlink Business launch as interest in satellite surges
Telecoms provider 2Degrees is launching its Starlink Business satellite broadband offering early with interest in satellite skyrocketing as a result of the communications outages suffered during last week’s flood disaster.
While Satlink receivers have been available from retailers such as Noel Leeming for months now, they are self-installed devices where users sign up for a monthly plan. 2degrees had done a deal with Starlink to offer a business-grade service, which offers a “higher-level service experience than the residential units”, according to 2degrees Chief Executive, Mark Callander.
“We had devices in our lab for testing prior to the Cyclone. When the Cyclone hit, they were quickly deployed into Gisborne for backhaul, and we have airfreighted in additional units from Australia and are supplying these to emergency services,” Callander added.
How does SpaceX's Starlink Business differ from the off-the-shelf consumer-grade version of the satellite broadband service?
“They provide a high gain antenna, additional throughput allocation, are designed for extreme conditions, and this helps ensure high bandwidth and low latency for critical operations 24/7,” says Callander.
“This is an enterprise-grade service, that will be supported by our business teams and integrate with our existing network solutions, such as SD-WAN (Software-defined Wide Area Network).”
2degrees will offer both self-install, and full installation options, and will back this with a fully managed telco service. That will overcome the do-it-yourself nature of Starlink, which has rapidly expanded around the world due to its plug-and-play nature. Starlink installers are now operating in parts of the country assisting with set-up for those who want a more permanent roof-top antenna connection.
The cost of connectivity
Other New Zealand satellite broadband providers typically need to send out a technician to install equipment, often a step too far in emergency scenarios.
Noel Leeming is currently selling the Starlink unit for $520, a 50% discount on its regular price. Users then need to sign up with Starlink to activate a plan.
2degrees hasn’t revealed pricing for its Starlink Business service. Starlink Business is advertised on the Starlink webpage priced at $"426 per month with a one-time hardware cost of $4,200".
Starlink Business users can expect download speeds of up to 350 Mbps (megabits per second) and latency of 20-40ms (milliseconds), enabling high throughput connectivity for offices of up to 20 users, storefronts, and demanding workloads across the globe,” Starlink claims.
Residential plans cost $159 per month. Because using Starlink doesn’t involve a long-term contract, users can simply pay month to month, cancelling the subscription when connectivity isn’t needed. That will likely make it an increasingly attractive option for NEMA, local councils and telcos to have in reserve and on-location for backup communications in future disasters.
Nevertheless, powering Satlink remains a challenge when the electricity grid is down. Back-up satellite communications will therefore need to be paired with backup generators or solar panels and battery backs to keep isolated communities online and in contact when disaster strikes.
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