Right now, Starlink is offering a discount on the normally-hefty installation price for its satellite broadband service in Australia.
Usually, the Elon Musk-owned provider charges $924 for the Starlink satellite receiver and other gear.
But in “select areas of rural Australia”, that cost is being dropped to $199 for a “limited time” sale.
You’ll still be paying $139 a month, which is a lot more than most NBN plans cost. But it does cut down the setup expenses for the Space X-operated service.
The likely reason for the discount? NBN Co is running a trial of higher-speed satellite services right now. If Starlink pulls in a few customers before that becomes more widely available, they’re less likely to switch.
But anyway: just how rural is rural? No details are provided on the Starlink site – you have to plug in your address and see if you qualify for the $199 offer. (If you don’t, you still get a discounted price at the moment, but it’s a less impressive $599.)
Obviously rural cities like Dubbo are eligible. Crowded city suburbs like Newtown are not. But how close to the city does the discount offer actually get?
As a confirmed railway tragic and broadband enthusiast, I particularly wanted to see if any of the locations on Sydney’s Intercity Trains network qualified for the bargain $199 rural price. The train network is very broad, running from Dungog and Scone in the north to Bathurst in the west and Goulburn and Bomaderry in the south. (I once travelled 542km on the network for free in a single day.)
There’s a pleasurable irony in the idea that you’re close enough to Sydney for a regular commuter train service, but also far away enough to qualify for a rural broadband discount.
How many Sydney Trains locations can get the Starlink deal?
In total, I found 52 Intercity-serviced train locations where you can get Starlink for $199. Here they are, broke down across the four Intercity lines.
The Hunter Line requires a change at Hamilton or Newcastle Interchange to actually get to Sydney, so this is all pretty remote stuff and hence a likely Starlink candidate. I’m a little surprised that the infamous Mindaribba station, which is so small only one door from the train opens onto the platform, doesn’t make the cut, but it isn’t that far from well-developed Maitland.
South Coast Line
This surprised me a little – largely because Kiama famously was one of the very first locations when NBN fibre rolled out. I visited there for the launch press conference way back in 2011. Doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be locations nearby where satellite was a necessity, but this shows that the competition between NBN Co and Starlink really is fierce right now.
Southern Highlands Line
- Moss Vale
Anywhere that’s “properly” Southern Highlands also qualifies as rural, it seems.
Blue Mountains Line
- Emu Plains
- Valley Heights
- Wentworth Falls
- Medlow Bath
- Mount Victoria
This is also striking. Emu Plains actually gets regular Sydney Trains commuter services, not just the Intercity ones. So it’s the closest thing we’ve found to a truly urban location that gets the discount.
Mobile reception in the actual Blue Mountains is often iffy. Be interesting to see if Starlink does better.
Looking at these locations overall, it broadly seems like if you’re more than 60 kilometres from Sydney, Starlink will give you a discount right now. But you’d have to check your own address to be sure.
Lead image from back when I travelled the entirety of the Hunter Line in a single day, as you do.