Starlink sweeps Nunavut

Not much has been making its way through Rankin Inlet’s Canada Post, but one item that has is dozens of orders of Starlink, the Elon Musk SpaceX project that uses a low-orbit satellite constellation to connect individuals to high-speed internet.

Across the Kivalliq and Nunavut, residents have been connecting to discuss the new internet service, and connecting to speeds never seen in the North before.

“It’s amazing,” said Amanda Arsenault, who was showing off the connection above her home. “I’ve lived in Rankin eight-and-a-half years. I’ve had Qiniq, Northwestel and now Starlink, and this is the best by far. It’s superior.”

In fact, she had already cancelled her Northwestel internet soon after setting up the Starlink dish. There have been some concerns with how the dishes would fare in the extreme cold of winter or blizzards, but Arsenault has moved on from Northwestel regardless.

“We’re going to find out through the winter how it works,” she said. “If I have to get backup internet with Qiniq for when it doesn’t work, I can look into that, but for now it’s been working pretty good.”

She said the internet drops intermittently, but never for more than a minute or two, and it’s back up and running at full speed soon. She paid about $800 for the dish and the monthly cost is $140, but it provides her speeds above 100 megabits per second and a terabyte of data per month. In comparison, Northwestel’s best plan offers 200 gigabytes per month with a download speed up to 15 mbps. Qiniq’s best plan offers 100 gb per month and 5 mbps download speed.

Arsenault got some help from a friend to put it on top of her house, but otherwise, the dish aligns itself and lets users know if there are any obstructions in the way.

“If it works consistently through the winter, I think it’s a gamechanger,” she said.

Todd McKay in Rankin Inlet has also hooked up his dish.

With the exception of those minor outages, it’s “absolutely fantastic,” he said.

“I’d expect that as satellite density increases, the outages will decrease,” said McKay. “Speeds are something I didn’t think to see here in my lifetime. Connectivity is finally accessible. From phones and tablets to my smart TV and my WiFi-enabled light switches and outlets and more are finally working properly. Talking to one another without lag, all while you stream 4k TV and listen to Spotify while updating Windows and rolling through Facebook.”

On Facebook, Nunavummiut have started a group called Starlink Nunavut, where more than 1,500 members are troubleshooting any issues and discussing their speeds. Most are giving rave reviews, as the biggest challenge appears to be mounting it in the most optimum spot for wide coverage.

Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kivalliq News