What is Starlink’s ‘Best Effort’ service?

In short, Best Effort is a way to get more people using Starlink if they're okay with worse internet

While most people are familiar with Starlink, the satellite internet service provided by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, fewer people know about Starlink’s new ‘Best Effort’ service. In short, Best Effort is an attempt by Starlink to clear its pre-order backlog by enabling service for people in areas where it’s already at capacity as long as those people are fine with “deprioritized service.”

Starlink holds a lot of promise for people in rural Canada and other countries where other internet options are unavailable, perform poorly, cost way too much, or all of the above. Some criticize Starlink for being expensive, but for rural users, it offers huge monthly savings over alternatives like LTE-based internet, which in Canada is typically slow and absurdly expensive (one Ontario resident told PC Mag that he could pay $300-$600 per month for internet over LTE with 15Mbps download speeds).

That promise is also why Starlink’s pre-order waitlist is so large. Starlink’s website shows where its Residential service is currently available — in North America, most of the eastern half of the U.S. and much of southern Ontario are marked as on a “waitlist” with expanded capacity coming in 2023. Best Effort is aimed at customers in those areas.

Map of Starlink’s North American availability. | Image credit: Starlink (screenshot)

Per a support page on Starlink’s website:

“Best Effort is a service option offered to existing pre-order customers in areas where Residential service is currently at capacity. It enables typical internet activity with the understanding that Best Effort users will be deprioritized behind Residential users, resulting in slower speeds.

“Best Effort uses the same hardware as Residential and the monthly service charge is the same, but unlike Residential, Best Effort users will have the option to pause service.”

Starlink offered a similar explanation in an email sent to customers living in those service areas. Moreover, the email noted that Best Effort users will experience “notably slower speeds” than Residential users during peak use times. Plus, Starlink says Best Effort should work fine for activities like email, online shopping, or streaming a standard definition (SD) movie, but won’t work for online gaming, video calls or streaming high definition (HD) or 4K movies.

Best Effort users can expect download speeds ranging from 5-100Mbps and upload speeds ranging from 1-10Mbps, lower than Residential’s 50-200Mbps and 10-20Mbps, respectively.

Considering Best Effort costs the same as Residential Starlink ($140/mo in Canada), some might be frustrated with the offering. However, others desperate for more reliable internet might happily pay $140 for Best Effort while they wait for Residential capacity to expand in their area.

Plus, customers can freely pause Best Effort service when they want and getting Best Effort lets them use Starlink while sticking in the queue for Residential. Starlink says it will automatically upgrade Best Effort customers to Residential service at no additional cost when there’s more capacity in their area.

You can learn more about Starlink in Canada here.

Image credit: Starlink