At some point, you probably asked yourself what to choose between Starlink and mobile hotspot internet service.
The search for the best home internet service is increasing, and these two options dominate the debate.
They allow you to access the internet using wireless connectivity, which makes them widely accessible.
However, they operate differently. A mobile hotspot relies on the local cellular network, which extends as far as the nearest base station.
Starlink signals come from satellites, and therefore, you only need a clear view of the sky to access it.
We will walk you through the differences between these two internet services and help you decide on the right one for your home use.
Table of Contents
- Starlink vs. Mobile Hotspot: Here are the Differences
- So, Which One is the Best for Me?
Starlink vs. Mobile Hotspot: Here are the Differences
One of the most obvious differences between these two internet options is the equipment you require to set up the connection.
Though both of them don’t require cable infrastructure on the ground, there is certain equipment you’ll need to create a WIFi connection.
For Starlink internet, you will have to purchase a kit that comes with a Starlink base (dish) and mount, a WiFi router, and a Starlink cable (75 ft for Residential).
To better manage your home internet, you must install a Starlink app on your smartphone. So it is good to have a smartphone too.
The app will offer real-time data on an internet connection, provide updates, and help you position your dish appropriately.
For a mobile hotspot, you simply need a smartphone and mobile network coverage.
You can create a hotspot connection via your smartphone and share it with other devices, such as laptops, tablets, TV, and other WiFi-enabled devices.
However, if you want to generate WiFi using a dedicated mobile hotspot such as a modem, you will have to buy one.
A person holding a 3G and 4G mobile modem
A mobile hotspot is a type of physical location or private hotspot that uses wireless local area networking (WLAN) technology.
The device you use as a hotspot has a data plan that you can share with other devices using the tethering technology.
The tethering technology, known as “Mi-Fi,” is present in tablets, smartphones, Windows, laptops, and other leading operating systems, so you can connect multiple devices using WiFi protocol.
Starlink relies on satellite constellations to deliver the network via dish antenna and router to users.
The technology deploys low earth orbit (LEO) satellites that work together to offer faster internet coverage.
The company establishes numerous small satellites (far more than 3,000) and gateway stations (network of ground stations) that communicate with the satellite using radio frequencies.
To access the internet signals, you must install a dish or a phased array antenna, also known as a user terminal, at your location.
The terminal uses the phased array technology to communicate with the satellites, where it tracks the satellites in the sky and connects with the nearest satellite signals.
You then access the internet for use in your house via your router.
A wireless network router
Initially, people used mobile hotspots to access data while on the move because they could hardly run household devices.
You could connect a laptop for your office work or when traveling; that was the best they could do.
However, this technology has advanced a lot, and people now use it for home internet connectivity.
The quality, speed, and low latency of 4G/LTE and 5G have expanded their use to smart TVs and other WiFi-enabled devices.
It can now effectively support gaming, streaming, and video calls.
If you didn’t know, you can now connect up to ten devices in your home at the same time.
However, this is only possible when close to the nearest base station. Therefore, it is still more in urban than in remote areas.
Starlink targets home users, especially the ones living in areas where DSL or fiber infrastructure cannot access.
Unlike mobile hotspots that rely on base stations, you can access Starlink from anywhere if they offer their services in your area.
That said, Starlink is more reliable for remote areas than mobile hotspots.
Satellite dish antenna with a clear view of the sky
Speed and Latency
Starlink speed depends on your location and the plan you choose.
For home use, you should purchase a Residential Plan, which offers download and upload speeds of 25-100 Mbps and 5-10 Mbps, respectively.
However, you can get up to 220 Mbps speed with a Business Plan. Starlink benefits from the low latency of between 20-40 Ms.
The most popular Mobile hotspot connection is still 4G LTE wireless technology which offers around 30 Mbps download speed in most areas.
Some newer Mobile hotspots have 5G capability, which can hit a download speed of up to 1000 Mbps in some areas.
However, most 5G users are reporting a download speed of between 50 Mbps and 250 Mbps.
Mobile hotspot latency is 60 ms, a little higher than Starlink. Though it may have a better speed than Starlink in some areas, connection via smartphones is not as reliable as the satellite.
For a more reliable mobile hotspot internet speed, you can use a dedicated hotspot device such as Nighthawk LTE for AT&T or Jetpack MiFi 88ooL for Verizon to create a WiFi hub.
Starlink offers unlimited data for most of its plans. Standard used to assign a 1TB data cap to residential and Business plans but terminated it recently.
Mobile hotspot doesn’t offer unlimited data plans. Your phone network provider may offer an unlimited data plan, but this doesn’t apply to hotspots.
The pricing of the mobile hotspot can widely vary depending on the network provider, the device being used, data allowances, and any promotional offer available.
If you are connecting through a dedicated mobile device such as a modem device, you will have to buy the hardware. The prices also vary depending on the device you choose.
You can find devices as cheap as $50 with basic features and limitations in data connectivity options.
For devices that support fast data like 5G, you can spend around $200-$500, or even more.
For standard Starlink hardware, you will pay $599 for hardware, followed by a monthly fee of $110.
A Business plan will cost you around $2,500 for hardware. Compared to a mobile hotspot, Starlink has complicated installation and is relatively expensive.
So, Which One is the Best for Me?
Starlink and mobile hotspots are great wireless connections in terms of speed and accessibility.
These two internet services are good options if you are living in remote areas.
However, Starlink is a more reliable home internet in remote areas due to its accessibility and unlimited broadband internet.
A mobile hotspot is also a great option for home internet in remote areas, but the coverage depends on your closeness to the base station.
Base stations are mostly in urban areas compared to remote areas.
If you reside in an area with a constant strong 4G LTE or 5G cellular service, it’s a good idea to purchase hardware for a dedicated mobile hotspot.
Dedicated mobile hotspot devices offer more reliable speed and connectivity.