StarBand, a once-promising satellite-based high-speed Internet service, announced on its Web site that it will shut down the service on September 30, citing “steadily increasing operating costs, bandwidth demand and competing consumer broadband alternatives.”
StarBand, once known as Gilat-To-Home and now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gilat Satellite Networks, launched its two-way service in 2000. It merged into the operations of Spacenet Inc. in 2005, and sold its Spacenet subsidiary, to SageNet, for about $16 million, in December 2013.
StarBand, a service that’s been governed by a relatively strict “Fair Access Policy” and generally targeted to consumers and small-office customers who don’t have access to wireline broadband, has been marketing three tiers, topped by Nova 1500, a 1.5 Mbps downstream by 256 kbps upstream offering that costs $119.99 per month. Nova 100 (1 Mbps/125 kbps) runs $79.99 per month, and Nova 500 (512 kbps by 100 kbps) runs $59.99 per month.
“We thank every customer who selected StarBand over the last 15 years,” the company noted in its post to affected customers. “As you know, much has changed in the decade-and-a-half since StarBand pioneered bringing high-speed Internet access to communities beyond the reach of traditional, land-based Internet services. Unfortunately, the time has come for StarBand to retire.”
In its FAQ about the coming shutdown, StarBand urges customers to check The National Broadband Map www.broadbandmap.gov for alternatives, and suggests that they check Exede or HughesNet if they still require satellite-based Internet service.
Wiredpoints out that StarBand’s demise could open up opportunities for Richard Branson’s OneWeb, or Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which are both looking to offer satellite-based Internet service. Google reportedly has interest in satellite-delivered Internet service via a fleet low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, complementing some of its drone- and balloon-based Internet initiatives. Facebook’s Connectivity Lab is also looking a variety of alternatives, including satellites, for broadband delivery in low-density areas.
The StarBand FAQ said existing StarBand subs will no longer have access to their current email accounts after September 30, and that existing StarBand dishes and modems are not compatible with other service providers. “StarBand will not be repossessing the equipment. You can dispose of the equipment as you see fit. To dispose of in an eco-friendly manner, please see: http://search.earth911.com/,” the company explains.