In August 2022, Starlink introduced its Best Effort option, which is now one of the seven internet plans that the ISP offers.
In this article, I will detail what Best Effort is, how much it costs per month, and how it stacks up against other satellite-based competitors.
What Is Starlink Best Effort?
Starlink’s Best Effort option is essentially a compromise for customers who pre-ordered a kit but are still waiting for their Residential plan to be activated.
The extended waiting time can be explained by the exponential growth Starlink has experienced. In 2022 alone, it added over 850,000 subscribers.
As such, some service areas, primarily in Canada and the United States, are now running at capacity, meaning there isn’t enough bandwidth available to deliver its promised speeds.
Best Effort was thus created as a compromise for those who absolutely need a functioning internet connection. That compromise is slower speeds.
Therefore, subscribers on the Best Effort option will be deprioritized behind Residential users. Keep in mind that the degraded speeds only come into effect during times of high network congestion.
Your download speed shouldn’t differ from Residential during low-usage times like the middle of the night. However, you should expect degraded speeds during peak usage times, which Starlink defines as 7 am to 11 pm.
This also means that Starlink’s proposed 1 TB data cap, which is slated to go into effect in April 2023, is not applicable to Best Effort subscribers (as they already surf on deprioritized speeds).
But unlike Residential, Best Effort can be paused at any time should you not be happy with the provided speeds.
Furthermore, Starlink recommends holding onto your hardware kit until you’re upgraded to Residential. The promotion to Residential is done automatically, so all you need to do is to wait.
Consequently, if you were to cancel your Best Effort plan altogether, then you will lose your place in line for Residential service.
How Much Does Best Effort Cost?
Starlink Best Effort costs $120 per month in the United States. As such, pricing is similar to the firm’s Residential plan. Additionally, the pricing for the hardware kit remains unchanged at $599 apiece.
Best Effort was originally introduced in August 2022, exactly five months after Starlink revised its pricing from $99 a month to $110.
Then, in February 2023, Starlink adjusted its pricing once again. Users located in areas of limited capacity, which those subscribed to Best Effort are, now pay $120 per month instead of $110.
It’s unclear for now how long Starlink will continue offering the Best Effort option or whether price decreases may be on the horizon.
In all likelihood, I would expect that pricing remains on par with the higher Residential pricing tier, simply because demand for Starlink does not seem to diminish.
Is Best Effort Still Better Than HughesNet and Viasat?
Even with limited download and upload speeds, Starlink’s Best Effort should still be performing better than competitors like HughesNet and Viasat.
Here’s an overview of the speeds that Starlink promises for its Best Effort option:
Expected download speeds range between 5 Mbps to 50 Mbps while upload speeds equal 2 Mbps to 10 Mbps. Latency and uptime remain unchanged across its plans.
The speeds that you will experience ultimately depend on your location and how congested that cell network is. However, speeds should improve with the deployment of new ground stations and satellites.
Anecdotally, users have reported a wide variety of download speeds, ranging from below 10 Mbps during peak hours all the way to > 150 Mbps (like this user on Reddit).
Meanwhile, competitors like HughesNet regularly fall below the 20 Mbps threshold. Latency, due to the reliance on satellites in geosynchronous orbit, is substantially higher as well.