Starlink + VoIP: 3 configuration tips for high-quality calls

A landscape picture from thousands of feet in the air.

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Starlink is set to be a game-changer for those who live in places with few internet connectivity options.

The Starlink difference is the sheer number of satellites it’s putting in the sky. 😲 It’s the same principle as mesh networking: to blanket the coverage area with “nodes” for maximum performance.

But will Starlink support VoIP or video calls that need low latency and reliable connections? The answer is yes. Here’s illumy’s Marcus Erickson on what you should know about configuring Starlink for VoIP calling.

What’s behind the Starlink hype

Starlink has attracted a lot of attention, and it looks like the hype is warranted. The company offers broadband speeds in places that other providers can’t reach. 👏

In my case, living in relatively rural Colorado, I see download speeds over 300Mbps, uploads of 8Mbps, and 34ms latency. That’s much better performance than what other satellite providers offer.

Here’s my advice for getting the most out of Starlink from a VoIP calling perspective.

1. Pony up for a good router

Your home internet connection is only as good as the wireless access point (a.k.a., router) you use. In consumer terms, that means your router has to match the performance of which your modem is capable.

Newer routers can comfortably deliver 1Gbps+ download speeds on the 5Ghz wireless band — way more than what Starlink is currently capable of. But, be sure to verify what your router can deliver. And consider using a WiFi 6 (802.11ax) model for the best performance to all of your connected devices. 📱 🖥  🕹

Over and above speed, what you may want to look for in a router is QoS (quality-of-service) functionality. QoS lets you prioritize certain devices or kinds of data traffic and is often used in business settings to get the best VoIP performance.

This guide from networking equipment company Cisco Meraki explains how QoS can hugely boost VoIP call quality. A quick takeaway from the guide: Maximize speed by setting your WiFi network to use the 5Ghz band only. ✅

2. Consider upgrading from a router to a mesh network

Mesh networks like Google Nest WiFi and eero can be a smart investment if you have a big living space or demand fast, consistent data speeds all the time.

From a central node connected to your modem, a mesh network wirelessly stitches together other nodes to blanket your whole home with data. It can keep your internet from dropping as you move around your home — especially useful if you like to mill around aimlessly when you’re on a call.

Starlink itself is also developing a mesh network, which is in beta right now. Could be worth keeping an eye on. 👀

3. Verify Starlink’s speed and stability for VoIP

The Starlink app can help you identify obstructions when you’re setting up your Starlink equipment — as well as measure WiFi signal strength once your network is up and running.

The WiFi Scanner function of the app allows you to pinpoint weak spots in the network so you can shore it up (e.g., with more mesh nodes). It also facilitates benchmarking your data speeds on Starlink, which may vary as satellite positions 🛰️ and weather conditions 🌤 change.

In most cases, Starlink should be more than sufficient for great VoIP calls on illumy. That’s thanks to the best-in-class audio codecs we use, which offer HD audio in nearly every situation.

We recommend speeds of just 150Kbps symmetric for illumy VoIP calling, which even a 3G connection should be able to provide. (If they weren’t turning the 3G networks off, that is. 😬)

Because of our advanced audio codecs, illumy VoIP is rate adaptive and will support super wideband HD voice quality, even at 150Kbps speeds.

Photo by Eean Chen on Unsplash.

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