A Starlink dish sits atop Christian Bourk’s house. Approximately two months after Starlink’s internet service launched in Nunavut, the dish has withstood Arctic conditions, but provides speeds that can vary widely. (Photo courtesy of Christian Bourk)

Starlink stands up to cold but service, speeds vary, users say

Company has been providing high-speed internet to Nunavut since the end of October

By David Lochead

Starlink has survived the Arctic cold and has provided Nunavummiut with a wide range of internet speeds in the nearly three months since the company started providing its satellite internet service to the territory.

Starlink became available for order in Nunavut at the end of October. It uses low-orbit satellite technology to connect with dishes on the ground.

The company boasts speeds that can reach up to 200 Mbps, or megabits per second — up to eight times faster than usual speeds in Nunavut. Before Starlink arrived, Nunavut was the only jurisdiction in Canada to not offer high-speed internet, which is defined as 25 Mbps or faster.

On social media pages such as Facebook’s Starlink Nunavut group, some Nunavummiut have posted that their Starlink dish has provided speeds of over 180 Mbps.

Two Starlink subscribers, both Iqaluit residents, say they have experienced a few issues but their service has mostly been good so far.

Yuri Podmoroff received his Starlink dish in late December. His speeds usually average between 5 Mbps to 20 Mbps, with the better speeds hitting approximately 50 Mbps.

“You’ll get a very large range,” Podmoroff said.

Podmoroff speculates that more Nunavummiut getting Starlink might be contributing to lower internet speeds, because more people are competing to get the same satellite reception.

But even with lower measured speeds, Podmoroff says his internet still feels like it works better than with previous provides. That’s because Starlink has better latency, which is the time it takes for data to travel from one device to another.

And the extreme cold has not proven to be an issue, according to Podmoroff.

“It works so well during blizzards,” he said.

But he said he will be interested to see how the dish performs in rainy weather, as it can be more difficult for dishes to connect to satellites in wet conditions.

Having more affordable internet is another reason Podmoroff got Starlink. When Podmoroff or his wife have to do activities like working from home, they are using their own internet. Before Starlink, that would mean getting charged data overages.

“The data caps are the craziest thing [in the North],” he said.

Starlink charges $140 a month. It offers unlimited data right now but a cap of one terabyte will be coming in February.

In comparison, Northwestel plans include $60 a month for 5 Mbps and a 90 gigabyte data cap or $110 a month for speeds up to 15 Mbps and 200 gigabytes of data.

Affordability is also a reason that another Iqaluit resident, Christian Bourk, bought Starlink.

“I always reaching my (internet) limit,” Bourk said of his experience using Bell Canada’s internet. He added that he was spending approximately $125 for 100 gigabytes of data.

Bourk said his Starlink dish has usually been working at speeds of over 15 Mbps, with his top speed being around 120 Mbps.

“It feels like I have internet from down south,” Bourk said.

Initially, he said his Starlink was slower and had more outages, but both problems have improved over the past couple weeks.

However, corresponding with Starlink is not a fast process. It can take days or weeks to get a response from the company, Bourk said.

Social media groups, such as the Facebook group Starlink Nunavut, has provided a way for Nunavummiut to ask and answer each other’s questions on Starlink.

“We’re trying to build up the community over there and give as much information as possible for new users,” Bourk said of the Starlink Nunavut group, of which he is a member.

Starlink did not respond to a request for an interview for this story, specifically to address customers’ complaints regarding intermittent poor service or the company’s plan to eventually launch more satellites to serve the region.

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by John K on

    I’m curious to see how long those of us in apartments have to wait. The people on the other side of the building can use it. Not us though.

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  2. Posted by will on

    The owners of the buildings – Northview, Nunastar, NCC are being lazy and cheap. They need to come up with a creative solution to allow their tenants to have access to what has become a basic need at a reasonable price. This is not a trend, it is not going away.

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    • Posted by Tired of Wasting Money on

      The cost incurred by me drilling holes in my apartment wall to install Starlink may very well be less than what I spend in a year on Northwestel overages. I may reach a point very soon where I decline to care what Northview thinks.

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      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        Until Northview kicks you out of your unit for willfully defacing it. If you’re not the owner best to wait for their OK before drilling holes in your walls, They’ll see the dishes pretty quickly and investigate.

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        • Posted by Tired of Wasting Money on

          I would be happy to have them actually show up at my place!

          But in all seriousness; if they show up to “investigate” a Starlink dish then they better come with all the tools needed to fix the things that I have asked to have fixed or replaced over the last three + years.

          They are falling short of their obligations as per:

          “Obligation to repair
          30. (1) A landlord shall
          (a) provide and maintain the rental premises, the residential complex
          and all services and facilities provided by the landlord, whether or
          not included in a written tenancy agreement, in a good state of
          repair and fit for habitation during the tenancy; and
          (b) ensure that the rental premises, the residential complex and all
          services and facilities provided by the landlord comply with all
          health, safety and maintenance and occupancy standards required
          by law.”

          They’re in contravention of sub 2 of the same paragraph and were I so inclined I could argue to pay my rent to the rental officer until the requisite repairs are made as per paragraph 32.

          And as far as Starlink is concerned there is probably room for an argument under paragraph 33 since internet providers are considered utilities under the Telecommunications Act. By denying us the ability to install this dish we are willfully placed at a disadvantage that home owners and other renters are able to avoid by simply not having to purchase their service from the local, beyond sub-par provider. I would appreciate them explaining their justification to the RTO.

          Until then I can just feed the line through my ripped window screen.

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  3. Posted by Cableman 4 ever on

    Starlink is a good way to get a better internet for now but the day you will get fiber in Iqaluit you’ll cancel that service.
    However, because it’s in the plan to provide submarine fiber in the Capital, watch out for monopoly because if ACL doesn’t want to provide a good internet with his own cable system, ( they can ) the only provider by fiber will be NWTel. By the way, everyone living in big buildings will get their own line into each appartment with modem as it is presently with the standard cable tv system or telephone line.

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    • Posted by fibre humor on

      There has been talks about fibre for as long as I can remember. And we know how slow everything progress from initial idea to completion. Remember, this is Nunavut, the feds needs to be throwing money to have thousands of useless studies done first before it is in place. A group of high schoolers can probably come up with these studies than the so-called experts. Not to mention then the land guardians will have their say about marine mammals and all that. So I don’t think we gonna see fibre for a while. LOL. In the meantime, Starlink works very well. I haven’t noticed much outages and I think the people who are noticing these are probably gamers. Was watching youtube last night like it was going out of style, it was sure great not to worry about cap and it not buffering every 10 minutes.

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      • Posted by Husband Gamer, Wife not. on

        Can confirm that people complaining about drops are gamers. My wife doesn’t game and I can hear her watching shows while I am gaming, and I’m getting disconnected from my game after 1-2 second drops and she doesn’t even notice them as the video has buffered enough to not skip a beat.

        My starlink app reads outages are 10-20 min a day. But they are 1-10 seconds at a time, so that is 120 – 1,200 drops a day.

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    • Posted by 2001 on

      Internet over aging coax ehh? 2001 called, they want their distribution model back.

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  4. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    the snow melt feature sounds great but how much power will this use? overall, how much will your electricity bill go up each month?

    there have been people advising the unit has failed and no replacement parts or even acknowledgement from Starlink. giving it some time before investing.

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    • Posted by KWh math on

      Melting feature load: 100W?
      Average load in a day: 8 hours?
      100W x 8 hours = 800Wh
      800Wh x 31 days = 24800Wh
      24800Wh ÷ 1000 = 24.8KWh
      24.8KWh x $0.31 = $7.69
      $7.69 × gst = $8.07
      I think saw on YouTube melting feature was 100W, I guesstimate the 8 hours a day.
      Maybe around $10 a month? Aachuu

    • Posted by wick on

      The snow melt feature doesn’t actually have to be used for the most part. We had ours on all the time, but it was causing ice buildup, so we turned it off. That was a couple of weeks ago. There have been no problems. I can confirm it cost a great deal more than $10 on our electricity bill, but once we realized it didn’t have to be on all the time, it was fine.

  5. Posted by Ya Dayada on

    It’s not even possible to order in Iqaluit right now, according to some posts I have seen.

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