Starlink: The Impossible Test

Today I tested Starlink with no expectation that it would actually work. If you look at the picture above, all those trees behind my van are blocking my view of the north sky. That means I almost certainly won’t be able to connect to the Starlink satellites. But I wanted to try it anyway, to find out just how bad it would be.

To my surprise, I actually did get online — for a few seconds. But as expected, I never got a reliable connection. Dishy pointed straight up, but never turned and angled itself to the north like it normally does. My theory is that there were so many obstructions that it couldn’t see satellites long enough of often enough to even figure out which direction to point.

Here’s what the app had to say about it. The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only… No, it’s for times when my signal is “possibly obstructed.” There’s no “possibly” about it — I know it is! The blue zone shows when it’s searching for a connection, but unable to get one. Between these two zones, I only have a couple of tiny slivers of service here among the trees, not enough to be usable.

I’ve described before how I’ve parked right next to trees and other obstructions, but still had good Starlink service as long as I had a good view of the north sky. This campsite is just the opposite of those and proves that it doesn’t work. If you like forests, don’t throw away your cellular hotspots. I’ve been relying on mine all week to get online. I’m moving on from this spot today and looking forward to faster, more reliable internet once again.

That’s an important point. You have no control over where the cell towers are, but you usually have control over where you park. The Starlink satellites are always up there. It’s much easier to give yourself a clear north sky than to drive miles and miles to try to find a place you’re allowed to park within range of a cell tower on your particular network(s).

Starlink has its limitations. I’ve just proven that, with data to back it up. But they’re limitations we can usually work with, as long as we know what they are and what we need to do.

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