Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink satellite wifi service is now available locally, raising the hopes of many Pohutakawa Coast residents who have suffered from sub-standard wifi and communications in the area.

Starlink promised faster broadband for rural communities delivered via a vast network of low-orbiting satellites launched worldwide over the past two years.

The South African-born billionaire’s constellation of 12,000 satellites is part of a plan to connect the digital world to hard-to-reach places, improving connectivity for people in isolated and rural areas. Many have reported increased signal latency due to the satellites close proximity to earth.

New Zealand consumers have been involved in the beta testing of the new hardware, and the service continues to be rolled out across Aotearoa’s topography.

With dish and connection packages priced around $799 for the dish, plus additional shipping of around $114 and monthly subscription charges of $159, we asked consumers in Whitford and Beachlands involved in the uptake if they have observed any noticeable improvement in browsing, streaming or gaming speeds.

photo credit Starwalk.space

Tirzah Shepard, who lives in Whitford, a suburb without fibre, has had Starlink hooked up for the last two months and reports no disruption to coverage ” (Starlink) has been the best thing for us as we only have limited 3G, so there is no use getting cellular wifi. Also, being more than 2km from the chorus box, ADSL was the only other option and was hopeless when everyone in our road home could not do zoom calls with video or use Netflix. We live too far away from Bluedoor wireless set up in Aro Kotoinga or Brookby”.

Tirzah said previous to the Starlink install, she was getting router speeds around 12  mega bits per second (mps), and now she is experiencing router speeds of around 100mps and phone coverage at around 55mps.

Chris Appleton from near Beachlands quotes similar figures and says that as a gamer, the speed provided by Starlink “enhances the whole experience,” and he can now watch his 4K TV and use his Playstation and phone concurrently with no lagging or connection issues.

In terms of downsides, Chris points only to Starlink’s policy on acceptable ‘fair use’ (standard with most providers) which he thinks could limit multi-platform gameplay. At the same time, online forums have criticised the services’ unwillingness to commit to uncapped data in the long term and raise questions about the longevity of the operating system and hardware known as ‘dishy’.