Starlink satellite internet requires a clear view of the sky. The phased array antenna in the Starlink dish actively tracks and communicates with satellites that are orbiting overhead. Anything in the dish field of view, which is about 100 degrees, can cause obstructions.
How much is too much? Can Starlink still be used with obstructions? In this article, I will seek to answer these questions and help you understand obstructions a bit better. I will go over exactly what obstructions are, how to check for them, and how well Starlink will work with various levels of obstructions.
Starlink Obstructed – What does it mean?
Obstructions can be anything that blocks the view of the sky. Trees are the most common type of obstruction for Starlink customers. Since the Starlink dish has a wide field of view, tall trees adjacent to the dish can create problems. The dish is obstructed when communication from the satellite to the dish is interrupted, and there aren’t any other satellites to switch to within the field of view.
If you’ve already set up your Starlink dish and the app is telling you that your Starlink is obstructed, it means that you have enough obstructions to cause issues with reliability and performance. If you see the ‘Starlink Obstructed’ message, tap on Statistics to see more detail about how often your connection is being interrupted.
When Starlink has an obstruction outage, you’ll lose your connection. This means that your Zoom video call or TV show can be interrupted or buffer. Usually, the outage only lasts several seconds. But with a lot of the Starlink view obstructed, the interruptions can last minutes.
How to check for obstructions
Starlink makes it easy to check for potential obstructions, even if you aren’t a customer yet. If you haven’t selected a location for your dish, open the Starlink app on your phone, and use the obstruction tool. The obstruction tool uses your phone’s camera to check for potential issues.
Follow the instructions on the screen. Move your phone camera around and scan the entire sky as directed. Once finished, the Starlink app will calculate the percentage of obstructions that can be expected if your dish is installed in that location.
If you already have your Starlink installed and it has been running for at least 12 hours, you can view data about obstructions from the app. During the first 12 hours of being powered on, Starlink will collect obstruction data. When you return to the app later and tap Obstructions from the menu, you can see a graphical readout of where your obstructions are in relation to the dish.
The app will also estimate how many interruptions you will experience with the current level of obstructions. Used in combination, the obstruction checker and the app statistics can be used to get a good idea of where your problem is, and how much of a problem it will be.
Will Starlink work with obstructions?
Starlink will still work, even with obstructions. How much is too much depends on your internet activities, and your options for fixing the obstructions. For example, if you do a lot of video calls for work, obstructions can cause serious problems. For things like video calls and gaming, any interruption caused by obstructions will be noticeable and annoying.
For activities like streaming movies and TV shows, obstructions are less of an issue. When you stream a show, a data buffer is created to smooth out the experience. So even if you have several obstruction outages events, you likely won’t even notice.
Starlink obstruction percentage
When you use the obstruction checker tool in the app, it gives you an obstruction percentage. If you are wondering how well your Starlink will work with a certain percentage, follow this table:
|Obstruction Percentage||Severity of Issues|
|0%||As good as it gets. You won’t have any outages due to obstructions.|
|1-5%||At this level of obstructions, you will have some short outages periodically. Most internet activities will work fine, but you might have issues gaming or doing video calls.|
|6-10%||Above 5% is where the real issues start. At this level, you will notice more frequent outages that last longer. With obstruction outages lasting several seconds, you might notice TV shows start to buffer. Online gaming and video calls will be problematic.|
|11% +||If your obstruction percentage is above 10%, expect to have some pretty serious issues. You’ll have internet, but it will be spotty. You’ll likely have interruptions while streaming TV shows. You might even notice web pages are slow to load. You will be having to reload apps, websites, etc. Anything needing a reliable connection, like video calling, will be virtually impossible for more than a few minutes.|
Overall, if you have minor obstructions that read between 1-5%, Starlink should still work fine for most internet activities. You’ll be able to browse the internet, check email, and stream movies and shows with almost no issues. When your obstruction percentage gets around 10% or above, that’s where it becomes major problem.
If you have obstructions that are causing issues, the solution is to either move the dish to a new location, or raise it above the obstructions so that it has a better view of the sky. Be sure to check out our guide on mounting options for Starlink for some ideas.
i have the starlink and it it working fine. i just ordered a second kit and i want to test it before installing it can i attach the second router to the first dish or will this not work
The routers are interchangeable so it would work.
If using a pole mount, can the cable lay on the starlink ground outside?
It can, but I would be worried about damage from being stepped on, mowed over, etc. It’s best to run conduit but there is nothing wrong with laying it on the ground if you prefer. The cable itself is not rated for burial, so it would need to be enclosed and protected if you needed to run it underground.
And what if it says there are obstructions when there are none?
Could be a defective dish. But keep in mind, the dish has a 100 degree field of view. Looking straight up you might not see obstructions, but nearby trees can cause issues even if they don’t seem like they would be in the way. I would create a support ticket to have Starlink check the obstruction graph. You can also use the obstruction checker tool in the app with your camera to better visualize what is obstructing.
I would like to know if there is a cable about 200’ long I can use or and extension and maybe an amplifier if needed. I live in a high rise condo and need 200’ from roof to my condo.
150ft is the max cable length.
I work for a company that installs Starlink in Japan. I suggest you try extending the cable or Wi-Fi from the router, not the Starlink cable. The Starlink cable is a PoE cable that uses electricity to power the antenna, so there may be problems such as voltage drop each time it is extended.
I recommend buying the small kit that allows a hard connection. Add your own cable at that point, up to 300 feet I think for 5e or 6, and hook into your own router. Unfortunately, the Starlink router will probably have to stay outside, AND you have to power it using an extension cord.