Starlink, the low earth orbit satellite internet service has begun taking customer orders. At the time of writing, it is yet to reveal a go-live date for New Zealand. There are sporadic reports it is giving customers who sign up estimated service dates starting in either late 2021 or early 2022.

To get the service customers must purchase a satellite dish.

A post on the Geekzone website suggests the dish costs around $800. Plan prices are around $160 a month for unlimited data at speeds between 50 and 150Mbps.

During the start-up stage the service will have a latency of between 20 and 40ms. Starlink says this will improve over time.

While the advertised performance is poor compared with fibre, it is on a par with RBI fixed wireless where customers are on urban frequencies. It is much better than the performance seen by more remote RBI fixed wireless customers. In addition, there are no data caps.

Starlink says it will process orders on a first-come, first-served basis. Charges for pre-ordering are refundable, but there is small print warning customers there are no guarantees they will be able to get service.

According to Starlink, the satellite dish is self-configuring. It needs a clear line of sight to the existing satellites’ orbit. For now, that’s restrictive, although this will open up as more satellites are launched. A mobile phone app can help prospective customers determine if they are able to use the service.

Starlink, which is owned by Elon Musk, is the first LEO satellite network to start taking orders. Others are on the way including an ambitious 4,400 satellite project promised by Amazon.