Staying Connected Anywhere With Starlink RV

There was a time, long ago, way back in the…1990’s when going “camping” meant you were out of touch, could not be reached, had no idea what was happening in your usual world or anywhere else for that matter. Those under thirty years of age may find it strange to imagine that in those days, when you left your house there was no way to instantly communicate with those outside of the range of your voice other than using a pay phone (which usually required carrying coins, which was a bother).

Upon returning home we would check our answering machines for messages; exciting new 1980’s technology that was an early form of tapping on “Like” since the more messages you had the more popular you surely must be!

And then came cell phones and voicemail and then smartphones that connected you to the internet and your attention could be diverted almost no matter where you were or what you were doing.

But you could still go camping and be out of touch since cell towers have limited range (about 60km line-of-sight) and communications companies only spend money installing them in areas where there are enough customers to justify the cost. Many developed campgrounds offer WiFi service (which can range from extremely slow to quite usable, though likely not secure) but those located in more remote areas aren’t able to.

Enter SpaceX, which in 2020 launched its Starlink internet access service specifically to provide high speed internet to rural and remote areas, blowing away existing companies like Hughes Network with advanced broadband technology providing much higher speeds for a much lower price. In less than a year Starlink had over 100,000 users, now over 500,000, serviced by over 3,000 satellites with more than 15,000 planned.

So far they have all been lofted into orbit using SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rockets (watch a fairing separation and a deployment) though in 2023 the plan is to use the new Starship rocket which can accommodate larger and more capable 2nd generation Starlink satellites. For an explanation of how the satellites are maneuvered into their final orbits, watch this Scott Manley video.

Image credit: SpaceX. In real life the satellites are not that close together!

RV owners were left out however, because a Starlink account would only work at a single location. The small receiving antenna and router box were easy to pick up and move but service was lost if you moved them more than a couple of kilometers.

They were not left out for long. On May 23, 2022, Starlink RV was announced and I placed my order that day. Three days later a Starlink box was delivered to my door. This new product offering was not tied to a fixed address and you could start/stop the service in one month increments; turn it on for the camping season and shut it down for the winter months.

To date I have used it at three different campgrounds, all partially shaded by trees, and it has worked almost flawlessly (very occasional brief dropouts, reconnects automatically). Initial setup was simple using the Starlink app. Starting it up at a campsite is as easy as connecting the receiver to the router and plugging the router into the 110V outlet on the side of the trailer. Within a few minutes the router boots up, the powered antenna orients itself and the Starlink wifi network is available (obviously you want to set up a strong password for security).

Starlink also offers a Business version (larger receiver, higher speeds, more costly) and a Maritime version that works while in motion (the RV version does not work when moving). Starlink isn’t stopping there; currently several airlines are beta testing inflight internet service via Starlink.

And one more thing…just announced is a Starlink partnership with t-Mobile to offer “Above and Beyond” service by the end of 2023; you will be able to use your current smartphone in areas without cell towers to communicate directly with Starlink satellites to send texts and make phone calls. The bandwidth won’t be enough for video and internet access, but it will be invaluable for outdoor enthusiasts and explorers who want to stay in touch and if needed access emergency services.

My personal speculation; projecting out a decade or so there will be Starlink satellites orbiting Mars to provide planetary telecommunications as well as high speed Earth/Mars data connections.

The sky is no longer the limit.

Image credit: SpaceX

One thought on “Staying Connected Anywhere With Starlink RV

  1. I signed up for the original Starlink beta a year back when I was really mad at Xfinity. When I was offered beta half a year back, I couldn’t justify the cost for a second internet service. I am very tempted to sign up for the RV version but don’t camp in the Alto enough yet.


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