Is Starlink vs. cable a fair comparison? Cable is undeniably fast and built on a vastly different architecture.
Still, Starlink might be a worthwhile option if you’re looking to shift operations to a more rural setting.
Cable is a popular, convenient internet option in fast-paced big cities with supporting infrastructure.
However, Starlink is one of the highest-rated internet service providers in areas that cable can’t reach.
Each provides reliable speeds with low latency at affordable rates.
We’ll show you the strong points of each service and recommend the best use cases.
How Does Starlink Compare To Cable Internet?
Area of deployment
High traffic towns and cities typically rely on fast, reliable internet to run homes and businesses.
It’s no surprise that you will find cable internet in these areas. They have intricate underground systems that support cable internet.
On the other hand, while Starlink satellite internet can work in the same areas, uptake might be slow since cable is more affordable.
Therefore, Starlink is deployed in rural areas and hard-to-reach locations with little to no internet support.
How Does Each Work
Starlink provides satellite-powered internet. SpaceX Starlink satellites hover about 341 miles above Earth. They emit high-frequency signals to ground stations and satellite dishes.
In turn, these dishes connect to a router, which provides wireless internet to internet-enabled devices in residences.
However, it’s different for cable internet.
A cable internet service provider lays a network of coaxial cables through which data passes. The data comes from a central point(servers) to local nodes, which redirect to homes in a location.
Each home has a cable modem where the coaxial cable terminates. The modem converts the received data into a digital format to make it compatible with your devices.
The cable ISP also provides a router that channels the internet connection to your devices wirelessly or through Ethernet cable connections.
Standard Starlink dish in a residential area
Unlike Starlink, cable relies on copper coaxial cables laid underneath. The miles of wire come from a central physical point to distribution nodes serving large areas. These nodes also divert to homes.
However, Starlink uses satellites in space and receiver satellite dishes in residential homes, maritime vessels, RVs, or aircraft.
Furthermore, Starlink has ground stations. The dome-shaped ground stations are a midpoint between the space satellites and satellite dishes.
Starlink vs. Cable Internet Technical Comparison
Let’s look at some expected technical metrics that could influence your choice.
Starlink advertises theoretical download speeds between 50 and 200 Mbps. However, users in forums such as Starlink Reddit share insights of their 90 Mbps average download speeds.
Starlink Business, Maritime, and Aviation have faster speeds of up to 1Gbps for Aviation and 500 Mbps for business. Regardless, these packages are not in direct competition with residential cable internet.
Also, Starlink promises upload speeds between 5 and 20 Mbps. Users record consistent upload speeds between 5 and 10 Mbps.
Cable internet is faster than Starlink.
Since electrical signals move faster through copper coaxial cables, cable internet users get download speeds up to 1Gbps. However, it is common to find between 100-300 Mbps depending on peak hours, population density and bandwidth.
Cable internet upload speeds range from 5 to 50 Mbps.
Starlink performs way better than legacy satellite internet providers when you compare latency periods.
While most satellite providers average 600-800ms latency, Starlink averages between 20 and 40. Starlink subscribers report latency of 40-80ms during peak hours, still a decent rate compared to direct rivals.
Still, cable internet has lower latency than Starlink.
Even during peak hours, cable latency can reach 40ms. However, latency is subject to specific ISPs and peak times.
The same ISP with 40ms peak latency can have 10-25ms during off-peak hours.
Cost: Is Cable Cheaper than Starlink?
Cable costs almost 50% of what Starlink charges for its residential package.
Starlink Residential costs $120 in the US and about $140 in Canada. Starlink Business attracts a $500 monthly charge.
Additionally, equipment for the Residential and Business packages cost $599 and $2500, respectively.
Conversely, cable internet services cost between $50 and $100 monthly. Like Starlink’s one-time equipment costs, you can get a cable internet modem for a monthly fee of $15-$30. However, it is largely optional.
Premium cable internet packages with exceptional speeds up to 2Gbps can go up to $200.
While it does sound costly, it is a superior package for business at an unbelievably low cost compared to Starlink Business.
Starlink vs. Cable Internet: Signal Strength & Drops
Signal strength, drops, and total uptime are severely overlooked when comparing internet packages. Yet, they affect your experience.
Real user experience reports longer downtime from outages on Starlink than cable.
On average, a cable internet outage might last about 2 hours compared to Starlink’s 20 minutes.
However, Starlink accumulated more downtime hours from outages over extended periods – about 28 hours total.
Starlink signal drops, slow uptime recovery, and extended downtime are attributed to the time it takes to realign the satellite dish to the LEO satellite over an area.
Fortunately, Starlink is addressing this issue by launching more satellites into space. They have already launched 22 laser-enabled V2 mini-satellites into space.
You can use tools like Uptime Robot to test uptime on different ISPs.
Starlink vs. Cable Internet: Customer Support
Live customer support on location fixing cable outage
Customer care is yet another area where cable internet beats Starlink hands down.
Cable companies typically have call centers that can dispatch crews to assess physical damages or attend to customer queries.
While cable companies have telephone lines, live assistants, social media pages, and interactive chat, Starlink has a customer ticket system.
Users have constantly complained about issues taking as much as 72 hours before getting addressed.
However, some users report good results when they raise issues such as outdated satellite dishes, faulty routers, or outages.
Starlink is a growing company with room to improve its customer service.
Here’s a quick side-by-side summary.
|$120 for residential$500 for business
|$50-$100$200 for premium packages up to 2Gbps
|$599 for Residential$2500 for Business
|$30-$60 modem leasing
|Less downtime. Fast customer care, great performance against adverse weather
|Less downtime. Fast customer careGreat performance against adverse weather
Best Use Cases For Starlink and Cable
Starlink or Cable For Gaming?
We’d recommend you stick to cable for gaming.
Starlink has a CGNAT IP address system that makes it challenging to have interactive one-on-one gaming without bypassing the Starlink router.
Also, the unpredictable nature of the Starlink satellite outage might make it challenging for the game.
Finally, some games have heavy graphics that require minimal lag, which is only possible with the lowest latency.
Starlink or Cable For Remote Work?
Starlink is great for remote work in rural areas or areas where cable is unreliable.
Additionally, Starlink has plans that allow you to travel over territorial waters while accessing the internet.
Starlink RV, Aviation, and Maritime provide reliable speeds when you’re not confined to a permanent residence.
Starlink or Cable for Business?
We’d recommend cable for Business in urban settings and Starlink for business in internet-scarce areas.
Starlink performs well for Business since the For-Business package has a unique high-performance dish.
Furthermore, you can move countries with your Starlink and still get global coverage.
Starlink and cable exist for different target markets. Whereas cable might be the most practical solution in urban areas, Starlink is a five-star service in satellite internet.
Cable performs better in customer service and might be least affected by weather such as rain.