Is Starlink A Solution For Internet in Rural Portugal?

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James Cave / Last Updated: December 28, 2022 / Posted in: Living in Portugal

Portugal has great internet coverage, but there are definitely some parts of the country that aren’t covered – not just by fibre broadband but by mobile internet as well. If that’s the case, you may be looking at other options and wondering whether Elon Musk’s Starlink could be the answer to your problems. With a monthly cost of €99 (and, at the time of writing, a hardware setup cost of €649), getting internet through Starlink isn’t cheap. It may be an option, but given the costs involved, you should probably make sure it’s your only option first. 

There are several internet service providers in Portugal (MEO, NOS, and Vodafone being the main ones) and you should confirm what options they are able to provide. The easiest way to do this is to use our Internet Options Checker, which connects you with an independent telecoms expert who can manually check all of the options available and confirm what is the best option for you. Alternatively, fill in the form below.

The other option is to visit the MEO, NOS, Vodafone, and Nowo shops and speak to someone there. Many of these companies’ websites will have an option to check availability on their website, and some comparison sites offer the same feature. Don’t rely on this. While it works reasonably well for towns and cities, it’s often inaccurate when it comes to rural areas. This is partly because many rural roads in Portugal aren’t named and also because postcodes can be large: fibre broadband could be available in one part of the postcode, but not necessarily where your property is. Then there’s the fact that your address – the one you use to get your mail – might not be where your property is located, but at a postbox on another street or even at the local post office. 

There are parts of Portugal where fibre broadband isn’t available but 4G mobile internet-based broadband is. This is a bit better than what you get on your phone or with a dongle: most internet providers have a large box that goes outside of the property (where there’s less interference from thick walls) and then feeds the internet to a router in the property via a wire. Depending on the speeds you can get, this may be more than enough for general browsing, streaming Netflix, and making calls on WhatsApp or Zoom. With a typical monthly cost of around €40-50 per month, it’s roughly half what Starlink costs and without the setup costs. However, it all depends on the speeds you will get – and getting an accurate estimate is often difficult. 

Starlink can offer faster speeds, and if you need superfast broadband for gaming, your work, video calls, or anything else, it may be a better option. Some Portuguese users on the r/Starlink subreddit report download speeds of around 300 Mbps and upload speeds of between 30 and 50 Mbps (see here, here, and here). It does depend a lot on obstructions as Cláudio Teixeira notes, and obstructing tall trees or buildings can almost prevent the Starlink setup from working at all. Another benefit of Starlink is that you don’t have to sign up for a two-year contract (although paying nearly €700 for the equipment means you’re unlikely to quit anytime soon). 

Is Starlink an option for rural properties in Portugal? Absolutely. Although the service has only been available in Portugal for around one year, early reviews are extremely positive. Not being signed into a contract is also a bonus. The downside is, of course, the cost. However, if none of the internet service providers are showing any signs of expanding their fibre optic cables to your region anytime soon, you may want to consider budgeting for this. 

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