Starlink vs DIRECTV Internet: Which Is Better

Starlink vs Dish internet

Starlink vs DIRECTV Internet: Which Is Better

Key Points:

  • Starlink is an internet service launched in 2019 by it’s sister company, SpaceX. The satellites installed by SpaceX rockets enable people in hard to reach, remote areas of the world to have internet.
  • DirecTV is owned by AT&T and is available mostly near cities and highly populated areas.
  • Starlink’s internet is fast enough to watch movies comfortably – but is nowhere near as fast as DirecTV.
  • When you start thinking about Starlink vs DirecTV internet, the decision almost exclusively comes down to your location. For city dwellers with fiber – DirecTV is best. Starlink makes internet possible in remote areas.

In 2020, Twitch recorded nearly 1.5 billion hours of streaming, a 98% growth from the year before. The amount of video content we consume as a society is rising at an incredible rate, and, unsurprisingly, internet companies are responding. 

The best internet service has a good mix of download speed and range. While some companies can provide speeds capable of streaming in 4K, they make no sense to use if their services don’t reach your home. Continue reading to learn how Starlink vs DirecTV internet, two polar-opposite companies, compare.

StarlinkDirecTV Internet
Launch DateJuly 24, 2019July 24, 2015
ProviderSubsidiary of SpaceXSubsidiary of AT&T
Internet TypeSatelliteFiber
CoverageGlobal (North America, Europe, Australia, South America)Metropolitan areas in some states
Upload Speed9.33 Mbps average112 Mbps average
Download Speed90.55 Mbps average358 Mbps average
ContractNo contract24 months
Data AllowanceUnlimited dataUnlimited data
Price$110/mo$125/mo for basic services
Additional CostsStarlink hardware: $599.99$10/mo equipment fee
  • Starlink is a subsidiary of SpaceX and provides satellite internet across the world.
  • DirecTV Internet is a subsidiary of AT&T and provides high-speed fiber internet to major cities in the US.
  • Both Starlink and DirecTV internet are comparable in price.
  • While DirecTV provides faster internet than Starlink in addition to TV channels, customers must sign a 2-year contract.
starlink satellite internet dish mounted to a roof
Operated by SpaceX, Starlink provides satellite Internet access to over 30 countries. 

In 2016, when 4G internet was faster than ever, and almost everyone had a smartphone, rural areas still had poor connectivity. So it only makes sense that Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, would use his rockets to launch satellites into space. With his vehicles, the billionaire was in an excellent position to dominate the satellite internet market.

The concept, named Starlink, would use a constellation of satellites to provide internet service to the darkest corners of the Earth. Intending to launch up to 42,000 satellites, Musk wants to provide internet not only to the United States but to the entire planet. In 2018, SpaceX began to chip away at it with its first set of 60 satellites.

Starlink met stellar reception almost immediately. Recognizing its potential, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarded the spaceflight company a $900 million subsidy to develop the technology. With federal assistance, SpaceX can regularly launch constellation satellites. The company now has 2,300 satellites in Earth’s lower orbit. 

Satellite internet solves the problem of connecting people in hard-to-reach areas. It uses a mid-band wavelength that bounces from the service provider high to an orbital receiver high above the planet. The wavelength gets redirected and sent back down to another receiver (the customer). This technology makes it possible to send information to rural areas, where cable installation is costly.

Of course, asking NASA to suit up a missile with a satellite isn’t the affordable option either, and most just opt to build towers in populated areas. This results in a lack of internet companies and empty airwaves. So when SpaceX launched Starlink, it could reach a huge range with hardly any noise or interruptions.

The satellite internet option is reliable in the United States and connects people in Europe, Australia, and South America. In a show of solidarity, SpaceX even established communication towers in Ukraine

Just because it has incredible reach doesn’t mean it’ll be fast. The satellite service has an average download speed of just over 90Mbps. While this is a step up from other satellite services, it falls short of 5G and fiber. But you don’t have a choice when you’re in hard-to-reach places. No worries for those that like to stream. Starlinks still provides download speeds to watch videos comfortably.

The price of Starlink is where people might pivot to another service. At $110 per month, Starlink nearly doubles the cost of other internet providers. On top of that, users must purchase a receiver, which costs $600 to install. This simply doesn’t make sense for someone living in the city, but it’s probably the best option for those living in a rural area. Based on its price, those on the fence with Starlink should also consider that SpaceX is still launching satellites, which will continually improve its performance.

DirecTV Internet History

Gray satellite dish with DirecTV logo
DirectTV internet speeds range from 3 Mbps to 1 Gbps, depending on the location.

Since its inception in 1994, DirecTV has owned a major portion of the satellite TV industry. But in 2015, when AT&T purchased the company for over $67 billion, it pivoted and bundled its services with the internet. With nearly 16 million potential new customers interested in pay TV, AT&T was in a position to make a considerable profit.

However, its transitional excitement was short-lived. With streaming services beginning to overtake traditional television, AT&T raised its prices to stay positive. But in 2021, the company lost over 600,000 subscribers. The company is now working on upgrading its streaming services while continuing to package the internet.

DirecTV Internet Coverage

Even though DirecTV offers television services at a wide range, that’s not exactly the case for its internet. It packages TV with fiber internet, which is about as fast as you get. Anyone would find a package like that enticing, but not just anyone has access to fiber. AT&T only has fiber in a handful of cities across the country. If you’re interested in signing up for one of their bundles, you’ll have to live in just the right spot.

DirecTV Internet Speed

Where DirecTV falls short in coverage, it makes up for in speed. The basic package offers 300 Mbps, more than three times faster than Starlink. And with premium services, users can have up to 940 Mbps, enough to download a gigabyte of data in less than 10 seconds.

DirecTV Internet Price

AT&T offers a variety of packages depending on your needs. For $125 a month, you can have 75 channels plus 300 Gbps download speed internet. This seems like an incredible deal compared to Starlink, which offers internet a third of the pace. 

Elon Musk won't be visiting Russia
A Starlink satellite in orbit around earth. Elon Musk helped Ukraine with internet access through his Starlink project.

The speed of their internet only goes up from there; for only $10 more, you can increase your download speed by nearly double. There is also a $10 service and installation fee for equipment regardless of your internet speed. The upside is that AT&T will come out and fix the equipment if it breaks. DirecTV internet requires a 2-year contract, so you’ll know that your equipment is covered over the entire duration.

When you start thinking about Starlink vs DirecTV internet, the decision almost exclusively comes down to your location. Starlink covers a vast range but costs nearly as much as DirecTV. If you find yourself in an area where AT&T has fiber, there’s no question that you’ll want to use their service. However, if you live in a rural area (or even just a state without AT&T fiber), your best choice is Starlink.

Up Next…

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Starlink better than internet providers?

Starlink, as one of the newest and most integrated satellite internet providers, is capable of offering speeds far better than traditional satellite internet options. However, Starlink is still slower than 5G services, such as Verizon and T-Mobile, and slower still than Fiber options, such as AT&T fiber.

Does Starlink work with DirecTV?

Starlink and  DirecTV do not work together as partners, but customers can stream DirecTV services with Starlink internet.

Will Starlink replace cable internet?

As a satellite internet provider, Starlink will not replace cable internet. However, companies like AT&T, which are building the framework for fiber internet, could replace traditional cable.

Is Starlink good for streaming movies?

While Starlink is much slower than fiber internet or 5G, it’s still possible to stream video in 1080p without interruption.

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