Dishy, as it is often called, is the transmitter/receiver of Starlink’s network of more than 3,500 small satellites orbiting in low Earth orbit just outside space. The device represents something of a game changer in communications technology: Anyone, anywhere can now access high-speed, unlatched Internet with nothing but Dishy, a clear view of the sky and something to connect to.
Bryan “Beetle” Bailey, a driver for Arizona-based tour company Tequila Coach Enterprises, often gets passes to sold-out stadium shows as a perk, but on TikTok he’s a solo star with more than 100,000 followers. . So, he has a healthy appetite for mobile data service, and to satisfy it he adjusted the Starlink dish to provide 200 megabits per second while on the move.
But often, that robust Internet comes with a cheap price tag: $2,500 for the hardware that moves. Starlink sells a cheaper unit for $599, but that one is advertised as stationary use only. After the first hardware purchase, it’s $150 monthly for unlimited service. For many owner users, a portable unit probably doesn’t justify its cost. But Bailey is part of a growing group of users who are ditching the fixed dish for an affordable mobile solution.
It’s a small factory, let’s say, of people who modify Starlink stationary dishes to work on the road. The concept is simple. The stationary dish has small motors in it to get satellites into the sky. The most expensive flagship model has no engines and sits flat on the roof of the car. Bailey, as he detailed in a video on his YouTube channel, made the switch and hasn’t looked back since.
Ever since I used the flat mount, I use it to the full for high-speed internet, even when I’m down the road,” he said.
The dish has one obvious feature — it needs to look at the sky. If he is under a bridge, or parked under a field as is often the case, there is no communication. The Starlink bowls are heated, however, and will destroy any ice and snow.
“Sometimes it cuts off and comes out, but I would say it shuts down 98% when it’s on and going down the highway,” he said.
At $150 a month, Bailey says it’s less expensive than his old setup, where he was paying $125 a month, for two separate hot devices because “you’re getting data out of them so fast. … I’ll pick up in Los Angeles and take things to New Jersey, but I’m not in big cities every time I shut down,” he said. “I’ll upload videos, watch movies, play on my PS5, or download GPS updates.”
(Related: POLL: Movies/screens while driving? What is your basis for this practice?)
When he relied on cell coverage and hotspots, Bailey said the signal often interfered with GPS downloads and he would “have to wait for real WiFi” somewhere in the city. Remember, even a hotspot from a major carrier depends on the cell towers that reach you. Starlink, on the other hand, just needs to see the sky.
Now that he has strong WiFi from Starlink wherever he goes, Baily said he’s been able to cut down on the data he pays for on his cellphone plan.
Bailey’s frequent interactions on the road make him viral on TikTok, where his dashcam videos and other accounts of life on the highway make up some of his most-viewed content.
Got some tips for communicating on the road? Some hacks to stay online for less? Email me at AlexLockie@randallreilly.com