Though not officially supported on the Starlink map, the satellite internet service still works in numerous Serbian locations. As with many countries, the potential of Starlink has left many wondering whether the technology could be worth making a change for. With the coming implementation of a daytime data cap, this question just became more complicated. So, what could this mean for Serbian Starlink users now, and when the service inevitably officially launches sometime in the future?
Starlink and Data Caps
As an internet delivery system, Starlink is built on the idea of satellite communication. This technology is not new, first being offered to consumers in 2003. These older systems and Starlink are fundamentally different in some key areas, most importantly in how new solutions overcame the speed limitations of the first generation.
With older geostationary satellite internet, there was a considerable delay before data could be sent or received. This is called latency, and it’s a side effect of how distant geostationary satellites need to be placed to avoid falling into the planet. For reference, the latency of these early solutions was around 550 milliseconds.
Instead of using just one satellite, Starlink utilizes a net of thousands of satellites that travel close to the planet. These need to be moved quickly to maintain orbit, with the side effect of a closer distance being a much lower latency. This is why Starlink can operate with a latency of around 50 milliseconds, ten times less than its older brothers, though around double of a wired internet connection like fiber.
In terms of bandwidth, or the amount of data that can be transmitted at one time, Starlink can operate at around a 200 Mbps download. This is below the modern 1 Gbps standard of fiber, but it’s still more than enough for most uses and users.
Starlink’s announced data caps will allow users a maximum download amount of 1 terabyte a month, or a thousand gigabytes. After this, users can purchase additional data at the cost of 25c per gigabyte. This is on top of the $110-$500 a month regular fee, plus $599-$2,500 equipment cost, depending on which version of the service is used.
Examining personal use cases
Though Starlink’s official spread to other countries is a matter of time, whether the service is worth making a change for is another question entirely. Ultimately, it depends on what you pay now, and the type of speed you require for your daily uses. Cost requires little explanation, even with the newly stated data caps. Speed requirements can be much more difficult to quantify, however.
In Serbia, a 2020 survey published by Eurostat stated that people in Serbia used the internet more for reading news than anything else. 74% of respondents in this survey stated keeping up to date with the news was their primary concern, whereas 70% used it to watch video content, 44% listened to music, and 21% downloaded games.
News exists on the low-demand end of the spectrum. Simple browsing and light image and video loading use very little bandwidth, requiring around 10 Mbps for an acceptable experience. Sometimes these types of users can get by on much less, but around 10 Mbps can serve as a solid speed foundation. In this instance, even the first few generations of DSL internet would still usually hold up.
Similar kinds of requirements would apply to low-demand interactive experiences like those from UK casino sites. Whether browsing ratings, collecting bonuses or playing the titles on these services, anything in the 10-20 Mbps range would prove more than adequate. The only possible concern for this use would relate to live casino game video streams, which might struggle at higher levels of quality. Considering that the best-rated platform, Treasure Spins Casino, stands out with its live casino game offer, potential players will be glad to hear that the systems are usually scalable. For the full HD experience in the live casino, 20 Mbps would be a stronger starting point. In many cases, this speed would also allow networks to run multiple casinos like Live Casino House and BetMaster at once if users don’t mind the occasional lowering of streaming bitrate.
The highest demand uses most people will see from their home internet are video streaming and game downloading. While this would only require 50 Mbps in most cases to be acceptable (apart from larger game downloads), it’s important to note that bandwidth is divided by simultaneous users. For example, a 50Mbps connection used by two people would mean 25 Mbps each, though unreliably. This means that it’s not just raw speed that matters, no matter your use case, it’s how many users are connected at the same time.
If Starlink’s price and speeds are in a sweet spot for you, then it might be worth investigating further if an upgrade could be worth a change. Otherwise, if you’re in an area with fiber or ADSL, traditional wired systems will almost always be a better and cheaper choice. As a technology so rapidly evolving, we’d still encourage interested users to see how Starlink continues to evolve, as while it might not be viable now, this could change in the future, especially if the restrictions to data caps are abandoned.