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Starlink vs EarthLink: 7 Must-Know Facts

  1. EarthLink’s pricing tiers range from $14 to $100 monthly.
  2. EarthLink charges setup, installation, and equipment fees to recoup the cost of outsourcing the resources of other companies.
  3. Starlink claims its satellite internet services are available in 40 countries.
  4. Customers must sign a 12-month introductory contract on several of EarthLink’s internet plans.
  5. EarthLink has a $200 termination fee for their one-year contracts.
  6. Starlink has an augmented reality app that helps you choose the best spot to install your dish.
  7. Elon Musk has promised that Starlink will increase its internet speed to 300 Mbps in the future.

Sometimes in life, we may think having a lot of options is a good thing, but it may inevitably make the act of choosing harder to accomplish. It’s the difference between going to a restaurant that specializes in cooking one or two dishes, and another that offers 15 value meals with add-on options.

Should you choose your internet provider in a similar fashion? How would you choose between Starlink vs EarthLink?

Even though there are many internet providers, it doesn’t mean that they offer complete blanket coverage of the country. In some areas of the United States, even in some city hubs, there may not be efficient internet coverage available.

In some rural areas in Oregon, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, average internet speeds can be as slow as 0.38 to 1.69 Mbps. Small cities in Utah, Ohio, Texas, and South Carolina can have an average Mbps speed much slower than the national average of 25  to 43 Mbps.

Internet users in such situations should choose their options wisely. So, which internet provider would you choose: Starlink vs EarthLink? We compare them below to make your choice easier.

StarlinkEarthLink
Founded20151994
FoundersElon Musk, Kimbal Musk, Gwynne ShotwellKevin M. O’Donnell, Sky Dayton, Reed Slatkin
HeadquartersRedmond, WashingtonAtlanta, Georgia
ServiceLow-Earth orbit satellite internetDSL and fiber optic internet
Cost$110 monthly and a one-time hardware fee of $599Varies according to location
Termination feeNoYes
Internet speed50 to 150 Mbps 25 Mbps to 5 Gigs
Subscribers400,000One million
ContractNo12-month contract
Website https://www.starlink.com/https://www.earthlink.net/internet/

Starlink vs EarthLink: What’s the Difference?

Starlink is a new satellite internet service launched by billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk. EarthLink is an internet service provider that was launched in 1994 but has yet to earn the brand recognition enjoyed by its bigger competitors.

Here are some of the differences you should be aware of if you are trying to choose between Starlink vs EarthLink.

History

starlink vs google fiber
Starlink aims for global mobile phone service after 2023.

©Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock.com

Starlink is a recently launched satellite internet company, but EarthLink has been operating since 1994, which was essentially the dawn of commercial and public domain internet.

Starlink was conceptualized as a subsidiary company of Elon Musk’s SpaceX space tourism and engineering company back in 2015. By 2019, Starlink began launching its initial array of low-Earth orbit internet satellite constellations. 

Satellite internet service is now a new concept. But most traditional internet satellites orbit over 22,000 miles above Earth. Additionally, a traditional satellite internet company uses a handful of large satellites to beam content to customers’ Earth-bound dishes and receivers. 

Business Plan

Starlink’s business plan was to revolutionize the satellite internet industry by improving connectivity, reliability, and latency. Starlink has launched about 3,000 of its proprietary satellites into low-Earth orbit since 2019. The FCC has granted Starlink’s request to launch an additional 7,000 satellites in the near future, and another 30,000 satellites.

Starlink plans to launch 10,000 to 42,000 low-earth orbit satellites in order to guarantee continuous, reliable, and uninterrupted satellite internet service to their customers. However, this is a process that can take years or decades. 

EarthLink’s Past

EarthLink is a traditional internet provider that launched back in 1994 at the dawn of public domain internet services being introduced to the public. In the year 2000, EarthLink was considered the second-largest internet provider behind AOL.

Since 2000, EarthLink has intermittently acquired or merged with other companies to expand its operations, promote its brand, and increase its consumer base.

While Starlink is a new and publicly visible satellite internet service, due to the celebrity of its founder, EarthLink has not retained the brand notoriety that other internet providers enjoy.

Service

Starlink’s satellite internet business service is revolutionary but straightforward. What many consumers may not know about EarthLink is that while it does have its own customer base, the company also acts as an internet provider facilitator.

That means that EarthLink professionally coopts the resources and equipment of other companies, even competitors, to extend the reach of their services to a wider customer base.

Starlink’s business plan is to create orbital constellation tiers of low-Earth orbit satellites which will blanket the Earth like an orbital shell. The satellites will orbit about 300 miles above Earth.

Starlink’s low-Earth orbit satellites and Earth-bound dishes each transmit and receive signals from each other, enhancing internet speed in an industry notorious for high latency and unreliable service.

Setting Up Starlink

Starlink vs Dish internet
Global satellite internet service concept.

©AlexLMX/Shutterstock.com

After subscribing to the service, Starlink customers will receive a dish that they must assemble and install themselves. The Starlink dish will then autonomously align itself to beam signals at the company’s low-Earth satellite constellation.

Since the Starlink satellites are in low-Earth orbit, the continuous transmission and reception of signals between the satellites and the Earth-bound dishes should enhance, stabilize, and improve satellite internet signals.

Traditional Services

EarthLink provides traditional DSL and fiber optic internet services. DSL internet is the process of coopting traditional telephone lines and copper wires to transmit internet signals without interrupting telephone traffic. Fiber optic cable is the fastest way to send internet signals.

However, EarthLink’s business plan includes legally coopting the resources and equipment of its competitors and larger companies to facilitate their services. EarthLink has a small consumer base, even after decades in the internet business.

So, when you sign up for EarthLink, you may actually be unknowingly subcontracting the services of EarthLink’s competitors, even though you are subscribed to EarthLink.

Let’s look at it another way; Starlink customers have to assemble and install their dishes themselves, a process that is reportedly user-friendly.

Coverage Area

internet providers
EarthLink went public on NASDAQ in January 1997.

©Sharaf Maksumov/Shutterstock.com

Starlink’s coverage area will increasingly grow as the company expands its operations. Right now, Starlink customers in the United States, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia are enjoying the best service coverage. Starlink will not realize its full global satellite internet coverage potential and offer enhanced internet reliability until it has launched 10,000 to 42,000 low-Earth orbit satellites.

The company will start expanding its service in Africa by the end of 2022. Starlink dishes can also be mounted on RVs and boats. However, coverage is not guaranteed for new subscribers. Some new subscribers may get waitlisted before they receive a Starlink dish.

EarthLink’s largest concentration of customers is located in the city hubs of California, New York, Texas, and the city of Chicago. EarthLink has a small customer base of one million. But when it acts as an internet provider facilitator by coopting the resources and equipment and resources of its competitor, EarthLink’s coverage area extends to large areas of the country.

Still, an EarthLink customer outside of the company’s core customer concentration demographic who signs up for service is at the mercy of the resources and equipment outsourced by EarthLink.

EarthLink claims its coverage area is large, but its coverage is only as good as the equipment it outsources from a competitor.

Quality of Service

Starlink is a new company, so it may be some time before the depths of any service problems or inefficiencies are publicly revealed. The Ukrainian government uses Starlink for its defense posture in the war against Russia.

And Starlink is being used by science research facilities in Antarctica. So, that must mean it’s a quality product. But even a quality product can have its problems.

In February 2022, a geomagnetic storm knocked dozens of Starlink’s satellites out of orbit. Video of Starlink satellites burning up in Earth’s atmosphere was recorded over the skies of Puerto Rico in the aftermath. Since there are only 3,000 Starlink satellites in orbit, service disruption may not be an issue for its small customer base of 400,000.

But until Starlink launches its full constellation of satellites, this could become a worsening problem as its customer base grows.

Consumers unaccustomed to assembling equipment may be uncomfortable using Starlink’s service, which requires the self-assembly of the dish. And since Starlink service is not available everywhere, you could be waitlisted for service for some time.

In January 2022, Starlink orders slowed dramatically due to a global computer chip shortage.

Outsourcing

Since EarthLink outsources its resources and equipment, your service is only as good as the local provider cooperating with EarthLink. For example, The Federal Communications Commission and the American Consumer Satisfaction Index gave EarthLink low scores in 2018 and 2019 for not providing its consumers with the internet speeds it promised.

In some rural areas of the country, the slowest speed that EarthLink offers could be 3 Mbps. And EarthLink has some very high pricing plans for its high-speed service.  A 1 Gbps plan could cost as much as $100 monthly.

EarthLink has tiers of internet plans that are only as good as the competitor that they outsource the service from. You may pay higher costs for EarthLink as they pass the cost of outsourcing resources onto you.

Starlink vs EarthLink: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

Unless you live in one of EarthLink’s main consumer base cities, you may want to call them to inquire about their services. The provider has been praised for its customer service system. Ask about their services and whether they outsource their equipment and resources. 

It may be cheaper to compare the services of other local internet providers. EarthLink may charge you more for the legal agreement to use the resources of a local competitor.

But if we had to choose between Starlink vs EarthLink, we would still choose EarthLink. That’s because EarthLink is relatively cheaper and utilizes a preset internet infrastructure.

By contrast, Starlink is still building out its infrastructure. And it’s currently optimal only for those living in remote or rural areas.

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Starlink vs EarthLink: How Do They Compare? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the fastest way to send and receive internet signals?

Fiber optic cable technology is the fastest way to send and receive internet signals. The average internet speed via modem and DSL is between 25 and 43 Mbps. The fastest fiber optic internet technology can transmit internet signals as fast as 10 Gbps per second.

What is an “Mbps” and a “Gbps?”

“Mbps” stands for “megabits per second.” One bit is a unit of data that quantifies how much data bandwidth is being transmitted via the internet.

A megabit is one million bits of data. A gigabit represents a billion bits of data. So, 25 Mbps means that 25 million bits of data are being transmitted per second in an internet connection, for example.

Why is Starlink not the best option for those living in large cities?

Modern-day cable, DSL, and fiber optic internet infrastructures are plentiful in large cities. And your internet speed is more reliable and faster with traditional internet instead of satellite internet. For the moment, satellite internet is more useful for people in remote areas with inadequate or nonexistent internet.

Is Earthlink coverage reliable?

Call an Earthlink representative before ordering their service. Earthlink has a core customer base of one million but also claims that it serves over 165 million Americans through its domestic outsourcing arrangement with other companies.

The company has suffered complaints that its coverage is nonexistent or inadequate in areas it claims to cover. Talk to an Earthlink customer service rep and compare local internet providers before making a decision.

Does Starlink or Earthlink have a 30-Day Free Trial?

Only Starlink offers a 30-Day free trial. You can get a refund after returning the dish if you are unhappy after a month.

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