Wireless Internet Off Grid

Xplornet and StarLink in an off grid situation.

For most folks getting away from the city it is still very important to stay connected to the internet. May that be for working from home, online shopping of streaming video content.  Especially the younger generation is very hungry to devour lots of data.

The choices are limited in rural areas. Our main stream wireless suppliers offer some mediocre solutions that are lacking speed and do not allow for large amounts of gigs to be used per month. Overages are super expensive, so users have to monitor their data use very closely.

Next choice is the 2004 start-up XPLORNET.

Xplornet provides fixed wireless internet access to remote areas through a combination of satellite internet as well as LTE and WiMAX fixed wireless networks. It owns part of the lifetime capacity of ViaSat-2 and is expanding its 4G network. These networks support approximately 400,000 subscribers, the largest number of rural Canadian subscribers of any company as of 2021. [5]

As with other telecommunications companies, some Xplornet programs are funded in part by federal and provincial government grants.[8]

The next and even bigger ambition was the idea of the StarLink model, conceived in 2014.

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX[2][3] providing satellite Internet access to most of the Earth.[4][5] The constellation consists of over 1600 satellites in mid-2021, and will eventually consist of many thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), which communicate with designated ground transceivers. While the technical possibility of satellite internet service covers most of the global population, actual service can be delivered only in countries that have licensed SpaceX to provide service within any specific national jurisdiction. As of September 2021, the beta service offering is available in 17 countries.

However, for “off gridders” there is a huge disadvantage with Xplornet and StarLink.

The Xplornet communication module consumes a ripe 39W/hr for a total of almost 1 kW/hr in a 24 hr. period. That is a tall order for any medium sized off grid system when daylight is in short supply.

The StarLink solution is an even bigger whopper. Approximately 100 W/hr for approximately 2.5 kW/hr. consumption per 24 hrs. And that is not all, the power consumption will go up in the winter as the dish has a heating element that is supposed to keep it snow and ice free.

Considering that a 4 kW solar module array on an extremely rainy day may only harvest 1.5 kW/hr, that will drain your batteries along with your household appliances in a hurry.

Waiting for a better solution.

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