SpaceX launches new Starlink user terminal, router loses ethernet

Starlink new user terminal

Yesterday, a new design for a Starlink user terminal appeared on the Starlink website. This new terminal features a rectangular shape, and new router, but that router lacks an ethernet port.

We regularly discuss Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite constellation to provide internet around the globe. Most of our posts have been about the network as a whole, the satellites, and the launches, but SpaceX just launched a new user terminal.

In order for Starlink customers to connect to the network, they must use a Starlink user terminal, placed outside, with a very wide clear view of the sky. Up until now, these user terminals have been round dishes, but now SpaceX has launched a new rectangular dish. This dish appears to be the default for new orders, with no option to select the previous dish before purchase.

Overall, this is certainly a good thing. Starlink only exited the beta period last month, and the engineers are still working to improve the service, both on the user side and the satellite side.

Some users, however, will be disappointed by this change, as the router included with the Starlink user terminal no longer has an ethernet port.

This will be disappointing to many, as while wifi continues to improve, ethernet remains a faster and more reliable connection.

For those disappointed by the change, thankfully, SpaceX sells an adapter to add an ethernet port. If you want more than one ethernet port, you can use an ethernet switch. (In order to access the shop you must have a Starlink account).

That is not the only disappointment. This new dish appears, based on the website’s graphics, to have moved away from the RJ-45 ethernet standard entirely, meaning you likely cannot bring your own router to use with the dish.

“Gen 1” Starlink user terminal, what’s in the box
“Gen 3” Starlink user terminal, what’s in the box.

While the included wifi router will suffice for many, the requirement for an adapter to get an ethernet port and (presumed) inability to use your own router any longer means that those who need a larger wifi coverage area will be stuck, instead needing either wifi repeaters or to just have two routers – in either case, not an ideal solution.

It’s not all bad though. This terminal now features a removable cable, a huge plus! And power for the dish now comes directly from the router, rather than needing the separate power over ethernet adapter.

Overall, these changes were likely, at least in some capacity, in order to save cost (or to get more money from each customer). Starlink user terminals have a very high upfront cost of $500, but SpaceX makes no money on these. They are losing money upfront on each terminal, so they have been hoping to reduce costs.

This high price comes from, among other things, the phase array antenna that allows the dish to accurately track the satellites as they move across the sky.

Hopefully, as SpaceX works to bring costs down on this excellent service, there won’t be too many compromises like this.

What do you think of this change? Let us know in the comments down below!

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