Telstra Starlink plans: Are they good value?

Telstra Starlink (Image: Telstra)

Telstra has launched its own Starlink plans for Australian consumers from today, but as always, the devil is in the detail as to whether it’s good value for you. Here’s my take.

I must preface this by saying I haven’t tested Telstra’s implementation of Starlink (or indeed Starlink’s own implementation of Starlink) at this time; what I’m looking at here are the raw numbers and what they might mean if you were interested in a Telstra Starlink installation.

How much does Starlink cost on Telstra? How does that compare?

This calls for a comparison chart — let’s go!

On paper, Telstra's offering looks interesting given it is undercutting Starlink itself by a decent sum. However, there are two catches here to be aware of.

Firstly, as should be evident from that table, Telstra is providing a speed capped service at a maximum of 50Mbps. While satellite-based broadband is inherently variable, Starlink itself is capable of more than that, which is why its standard consumer plan provides speeds of up to 100Mbps, and sometimes more.

The other caveat here is that the Telstra version comes with a Telstra Smart Modem 3 -- which does technically mean you might get 4G backup if Starlink goes offline on you -- but that's built into the assumption that you'll stay contracted for at least 24 months. Leave earlier than that, and you have to return the modem or pay a $200 fee for it.

I've just checked and amusingly Telstra says I could get Telstra Starlink from my Sydney location, though I suspect getting the best clear line of sight through the trees from my place might be something of a challenge. Then again, anywhere where you can get a fixed line NBN connection is going to be a more affordable proposition than Starlink from the get-go. It's not for me where I live now, though it might have been nice to have in the parts of Australia I grew up in.*

Realistically this is a product best suited to truly regional and remote Australia, and especially those places where the existing Sky Muster NBN isn't doing what you need it to do.

There's an obligation on NBN Co to provide services to remote Australia, and that's mostly via satellite, where Starlink and Telstra are private businesses that can pick and choose, but still, horror stories of dropouts and slow connections on Sky Muster are quite numerous. There's definitely a place for competition in this space, and if Starlink's own prices were just a little too steep for your budget, this could be a viable alternative.

Image: Telstra

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*OK, admittedly if satellite broadband had suddenly arrived on my rooftop as a kid in the 1970s there would have been precious little I could do with it, but still...

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