Rural homeowners are turning to Elon Musk’s costly Starlink broadband amid an endless wait for ultra-fast broadband in the British countryside.

Despite the eccentric billionaire often dividing opinion, villagers are hailing his satellite internet system as ‘life-changing’ as Brits face delays of up to three years for faster connections from other telecoms firms.

It comes after it was reported that villagers have been forced to endure endless roadworks and temporary traffic lights as trenches have been dug and telegraph poles erected in preparation for a big digital roll out in Stocksfield, Northumberland.

Slow broadband speeds are something felt around the country, with experts telling MailOnline there is ‘a lot of red tape’ around connecting these rural areas.

Fed up with waiting for fast broadband, some have switched to Musk’s £449 satellite internet system which helps connect the most isolated parts of the British countryside by using broadband beamed from space.

Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie, told MailOnline: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if more people go down this route just because of the wider issue of the rural broadband landscape where households and people are clearly getting left behind.’

Have YOU switched to Starlink? Email arthur.parashar@mailonline.co.uk 

A Starlink set up at a rural property

Rural homeowners are turning to Elon Musk ‘s costly Starlink broadband amid an endless wait for ultra-fast broadband in the British countryside. Pictured: Homeowners who have set up Starlink at their rural properties

Slow broadband speeds are something that many Brits must contend with, and 2023 figures revealed the specific streets with the worst connections

Slow broadband speeds are something that many Brits must contend with, and 2023 figures revealed the specific streets with the worst connections

A coverage map shows that Starlink is available in all parts of the UK for £449 or £75 a month

A coverage map shows that Starlink is available in all parts of the UK for £449 or £75 a month

Despite the eccentric billionaire often dividing opinion, villagers are hailing his satellite internet system (pictured) as 'life-changing' as Brits face delays of up to three years from other telecoms firms

Despite the eccentric billionaire often dividing opinion, villagers are hailing his satellite internet system (pictured) as ‘life-changing’ as Brits face delays of up to three years from other telecoms firms

Mr Tofts’ company found that Starlink was ‘head and shoulders above the competition’ in the wireless broadband market, boasting average speeds of 87Mb last year – well above Three which was second with 50Mb.

He said that he believes people are happy with the product but highlighted its high setup costs.

Starlink, which was activated over Ukraine following the Russian invasion, is now available in 32 countries, with coverage across the US, Europe, and Australia. 

A coverage map shows that Starlink is available in all parts of the UK, with equipment costing £449 plus an additional £75 a month for data. 

Last May, Starlink slashed the prices of the high-tech broadband in an extraordinary sale, allowing ‘rural’ homeowners to purchase the kit for just £99. 

Mr Tofts said: ‘That’s a really good move they are making, they’re lowering that barrier entry for the customers that actually really need it.’ Starlink also offer refurbished kits for £199.

He added that he has heard that people are happy with the product but as more people sign up, speeds could come down due to congestion. 

Mr Tofts believes that Starlink ‘has its own place in the market, adding: ‘You have this broadband connection that’s basically available anywhere which will be the world. It’s available everywhere in the UK.

‘And once you’ve got your kit, you can take that wherever you want to go. So if you’ve got a holiday home or a caravan, and you go about places in the UK, you can take your broadband connection with you.’

IT specialist Myles Meadows, who admitted he ‘can’t stand Musk and his awful cars’ told The Times last month: ‘It’s revolutionary … it’s a game changer.

This picture shows someone who has installed Elon Musk's Starlink device on their building

This picture shows someone who has installed Elon Musk’s Starlink device on their building

Starlink's connection has been widely praised on social media, especially by those who live in the countryside

Starlink’s connection has been widely praised on social media, especially by those who live in the countryside

Mr Meadows, who installed three Starlink antennas at his home and two rental cabins in the Elan Valley in Powys, Wales, added: ‘I was on the waiting list for about a year when they opened up the area. 

‘They delivered it in five days. I connected it in 15 minutes. I had 200 megabits per second (Mbps) [internet speed].’

Starlink’s connection has been widely praised on social media, especially from those who live in the countryside.

Michael Tempest wrote on X, also owned by Musk: ‘We had to bite the bullet today, UK internet providers in the countryside are awful. Often have calls dropping out.

‘@Starlink arrived in a few days and took 5 minutes to setup and instantly had the best internet connection I’ve ever had in the UK.’ 

James Young posted: ‘I live in a farm in the North West UK and had horrible internet that was slow and unreliable. I couldn’t video chat with my family and friends in the US. Starlink has been life-changing.’

Thousands have members have also joined a Facebook group called Starlink UK where they discuss Musk’s satellite broadband and share photos of their installations.

An antenna of the Starlink satellite-based broadband system donated by Musk in Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine

An antenna of the Starlink satellite-based broadband system donated by Musk in Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine

One member from rural Kent shared how their new neighbours had set up Starlink and described it as a ‘game changer’.

Another commented: ‘Definitely a yes from Wales. Our internet is dire and Starlink had [sic] made using the internet a pleasure. Think our neighbours will be going the same way.’ 

It comes after a scheme to link the rural village of Stocksfield to ultra-fast broadband came under fire after no properties were connected in three years. 

Projected dates to ‘go live’ have come and gone and many householders have now given up on the broken promises of high-speed ‘full fibre’ and invested in a satellite system or signed a new contract with their current telecoms provider.

It’s been three years since Factco was awarded the contract to connect homes in Stocksfield under the government’s Project Gigabit scheme and still no one knows when full fibre will actually be available.

Slow broadband speeds are something that many Brits are battling against, with some streets in the UK suffering with frustrating average speeds of just 0.6Mb.

Tim Hills, a parish councillor and local resident, has likened the speed of the roll out in Stocksfield to ‘an arthritic snail climbing a hill.’

It's been three years since Factco was awarded the contract to connect homes in Stocksfield (pictured) under the government's Project Gigabit scheme and still no one knows when full fibre will actually be available

It’s been three years since Factco was awarded the contract to connect homes in Stocksfield (pictured) under the government’s Project Gigabit scheme and still no one knows when full fibre will actually be available

Tim Hills, a parish councillor and local resident in Stocksfield, Northumberland likened the speed of the roll out to 'an arthritic snail climbing a hill'

Tim Hills, a parish councillor and local resident in Stocksfield, Northumberland likened the speed of the roll out to ‘an arthritic snail climbing a hill’

He said: ‘Nobody has been counting the days or the weeks but when you start counting the years it gets a bit ridiculous.’

The 10 slowest streets in the UK 

  1. Morriston Close, Watford: 0.60Mb
  2. Wade Court, Cheltenham: 1.20Mb
  3. Leazes Lane, Bishop Auckland: 1.38Mb
  4. Borstal Street, Rochester: 1.39Mb
  5. Rocks Lane, London: 1.42Mb
  6. Cefn Road, Bridgend: 1.43Mb
  7. Mersea Road, Colchester: 1.53Mb
  8. Hawthornvale, Edinburgh: 1.57Mb
  9. Hollin Drive, Wakefield: 1.58Mb
  10. Glebe Avenue, Braintree: 1.70Mb

Situated less than 15 miles from Newcastle, Stocksfield has a population of 2,900.

Mr Hills said current broadband speeds vary, but some properties ‘can’t even watch YouTube videos’ and with more people working from home demand for better broadband is increasing.

Originally the full fibre system was intended to switch on in the autumn of 2021, but deadline after deadline passed by.

Mr Hills said: ‘The autumn of 2021 came and went, 2022 came and went and 2023 has come and gone as well.’

‘They have certainly been doing plenty of work here, with some roads dug up multiple times and roadworks with traffic lights often stuck on red, but so far there is nothing to show for it.’

Mr Hills said ‘communication’ with the broadband provider Factco had been a problem but issues with the existing infrastructure was one explanation given for the delays.

The government is providing billions of pounds to ensure homes and businesses in every corner of the country can receive gigabit-speed broadband. The original aim was to roll out superfast broadband to every home in the country by 2025.

But many Britons are still met with the ‘spinning wheel of death’ as they attempt to download a film or stream a song.

Recent analysis by Broadband Genie revealed the streets with the fastest and slowest broadband in the UK for 2023.

Screen Grab from a video posted to X by the account Flight Club (@flightclubio) that claims to show all of the current Starlink satellites, as of August 2023. The number is believed to be 5,000

Screen Grab from a video posted to X by the account Flight Club (@flightclubio) that claims to show all of the current Starlink satellites, as of August 2023. The number is believed to be 5,000 

It found that people living on Morriston Close in Watford are dealing with the slowest connection, with average speeds of just 0.6Mb. 

The 10 fastest streets in the UK 

  1. Meadway, Northampton: 896.30Mb
  2. Rolvenden Grove, Milton Keynes: 711.64Mb
  3. Colville Street, London: 626.61Mb
  4. Nicholas Meadow, Callington: 619.82Mb
  5. North Road East, Wingate: 608.80Mb
  6. Chestnut Avenue, Chesham: 603.90Mb
  7. Town Street, Pudsey: 594.04Mb
  8. Amethyst Road, Christchurch: 587.17Mb
  9. Lumsdale Crescent, Matlock: 583.73Mb
  10. Ridge Green, Redhill: 569.70Mb

At that speed, it would take 40 hours, 37 minutes and 46 seconds – almost two days – to download the blockbuster movie, Avengers Endgame.

In contrast, people living on Meadway in Northampton enjoy the fastest connection, with speeds of 896.3Mb – 1,494 times faster than Morriston Close.

Broadband Genie analysed the average speeds at postcode level from 265,572 speed tests in 2022.

Their analysis revealed that, overall, the average speed in the UK is 122.2Mb.

However, several streets are nowhere near this figure.

Morriston Close in Watford was found to have the slowest speeds (0.6Mb), followed by Wade Court in Cheltenham (1.20Mb), Leazes Lane in Bishop Auckland (1.38Mb), and Borstal Street in Rochester (1.39Mb).

For reference, Ofcom advises that 10Mb is the minimum ‘decent’ speed homes should receive.

In contrast, people living on Meadway in Northampton enjoy the fastest speeds of 896Mb – a speed at which you could download Avengers Endgame in just one minute and 37 seconds.

This was followed by Rolvenden Grove in Milton Keynes (711.64Mb), Colville Street in London (626.61Mb), Nicholas Meadow in Callington (619.82Mb), and North Road East in Wingate (608.80Mb).

Starlink satellite antennas are seen at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA), the international trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances, on August 31, 2023

Starlink satellite antennas are seen at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA), the international trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances, on August 31, 2023

Despite their sluggish Wi-Fi residents in all 10 of the UK’s slowest streets could upgrade to superfast broadband of at least 30Mb, according to Broadband Genie, which offers a broadband comparison service. 

‘Our research highlights that residents of Britain’s slowest streets could be suffering in silence, as faster broadband is available to their homes,’ Mr Tofts said at the time.

‘If you haven’t reviewed your broadband contract in the last two years, it’s likely you can switch or renew to a faster deal at no extra cost.

‘For the majority of switches, your new providers will do the legwork for you when switching your old connection over and isn’t as daunting as it seems.’

A Factco spokeswoman promised yesterday Stocksfield would be connected ‘imminently.’

The spokeswoman said ‘considerable progress’ had been made in 2023 towards providing the village with full fibre.

‘Although it’s fair to say we’ve come across a number of unexpected hurdles, which have prolonged the build more than we wanted, we are currently forecasting that close to 700 premises will be ready for service imminently once the backhaul is connected.

‘Our largest network build to date has certainly not been without its challenges, However, we remain fully committed to delivering a state-of-the-art, full fibre network which will serve over 1,700 homes and businesses for generations to come.’

How does Elon Musk’s Starlink work? 

What is satellite internet? 

Internet access was declared a basic human right in 2016 by the United Nations.

However, many people around the world struggle to get online due to a lack of infrastructure or extortionate costs.

While satellite internet has been around for a while, it has suffered from high latency and unreliable connections.

Starlink is different. SpaceX said its goal is to provide high-speed, low-latency internet all over the world – especially to remote areas – at low cost.

Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online.

It will also help fund a future city on Mars.

Helping humanity reach the Red Planet and become multi-planetary is one of Musk’s long-stated aims and was what inspired him to start SpaceX.

Where is Starlink available? 

Starlink is now available in 32 countries, with coverage across the US, Europe, and Australia.

It includes a big chunk of the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy.

To see if Starlink internet availability is available where you are, the company has an interactive map detailing locations where Starlink internet is available, which areas are on the waitlist as well as areas that are ‘coming soon’.

Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online

Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online 

‘Starlink is ideally suited for areas where connectivity has been unreliable or completely unavailable,’ the Starlink main page states. 

‘People across the globe are using Starlink to gain access to education, health services and even communications support during natural disasters.’ 

Starlink internet can be achieved in remote locations within just a few minutes, making it a useful resource in emergencies. 

It has been deployed in Ukraine to great effect following Russia’s invasion, and In February 2022, at least 50 Starlink terminals were sent to the island of Tonga in the Pacific Ocean following a massive volcano eruption and tsunami that cut off remote villages.

Tests show they can deliver speeds of up to 200 megabits per second – well above what copper cables, which are commonly used to supply internet to hostile areas, can achieve. 

What does it mean for Britain?

UK ministers have announced that Musk is set to help connect the most isolated parts of the British countryside.

A dozen sites in extreme locations – where it is too difficult to upgrade using expensive physical cables – will benefit from broadband speeds up to ten times faster.

SpaceX carried out 31 successful launches in 2021, and had already surpassed that record by July this year

SpaceX carried out 31 successful launches in 2021, and had already surpassed that record by July this year 

Satellites provided by the billionaire’s service Starlink will bring high-speed wifi to a 12th century abbey in the North York Moors, a scout camp in Snowdonia and mountain rescue teams in the Lake District.

Following the trial the Government will consider using the technology to connect rural homes and businesses in the UK.

The trial will look at how bringing high-speed broadband will improve services in the one per cent of UK locations where it is too difficult to upgrade with expensive physical cables. 

Are there rival systems?

Musk’s rival Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, also plans to launch a constellation of low Earth-orbit satellites to provide broadband access to remote areas, as part of its Project Kuiper.

It describes the project as ‘a long-term initiative to launch a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world.’

The firm filed an application with the FCC to launch more than 3.000 low Earth orbit satellite into space to help with the project.

The satellites will orbit 589km to 629km (366 to 391 miles) above Earth.

What are the reservations about Starlink? 

Astronomers have raised concerns about the light pollution and other interference cased by these satellite constellations.

Spaceflight safety experts now see Starlink as the number one source of collision hazard in Earth’s orbit, while some scientists worry that the amount of metal burning up in the atmosphere as old satellites are deorbited could spark unpredictable changes to the planet’s climate.

Last year Musk hit back at claims that his Starlink satellites are hogging space, following a backlash from China and the European Space Agency.

Astronomers have raised concerns about the light pollution and other interference cased by these satellite constellations. This is an artist's impression of a SpaceX satellite

Astronomers have raised concerns about the light pollution and other interference cased by these satellite constellations. This is an artist’s impression of a SpaceX satellite 

In an interview, SpaceX CEO Musk said that ‘tens of billions’ of spacecraft can orbit close to Earth and rubbished claims that his firm is ‘squeezing out rivals in space’.

The billionaire tech entrepreneur was blasted by China over two ‘close encounters’ between his satellites and Beijing’s new space station, Tiangong.

‘Space is just extremely enormous and satellites are very tiny,’ Musk told the Financial Times.

‘This is not some situation where we’re effectively blocking others in any way. We’ve not blocked anyone from doing anything, nor do we expect to.’

Musk argued that each satellite orbits Earth in its own ‘shell’ – essentially a pathway around Earth at a certain fixed altitude that has a bigger diameter than Earth itself.

He compared this to the density of 2 billion cars and trucks that cover only a fraction of the Earth’s surface.

‘That would imply room for tens of billions of satellites,’ Musk said. ‘A couple of thousand satellites is nothing. It’s like, hey, here’s a couple of thousand of cars on Earth – it’s nothing.’

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