Is Starlink A Solution For Internet in Rural Portugal?

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Written by: | Last updated on February 9, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

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 Spacex Starlink could be the answer to your problems. With a monthly cost of €65 (and, at the time of writing, a hardware setup cost of €450), 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 €500 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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Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

You can contact James by emailing james@portugalist.com or via the site's contact form.

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There are 6 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.

Comments

  1. We used MEO ADSL for a while but the service was slow and unreliable. We inquired about fibre but ran into a brick wall. Since installing Starlink in March 22 we have had a fantastic service: consistently better than 250Mbps offering access to IPTV, voice and data. We ditched our landline, installed a multiband mobile repeater and switched to NOWO for our mobiles. Costs have gone down from 95€ to 65€ and, most recently, 40€ per month for Internet and 22€50 for mobile. Thank you Elon. Worth every penny of the up front cost.

    Reply
  2. Very sad for the people who are still connected through MEO/NOS, since Starlink signal is much stronger and, in the words of our MEO technician, “unfortunately interferes with MEO connections and there is not that much to do about it, besides switching to Starlink”. Sounds to me as a fishy monopoly that you either take it or leave it

    Reply
  3. Any experience using starlink in a valley?

    I’ve been using MEO 4g / 5g with a router, but it is HORRIBLY UNSTABLE… I don’t know what is going on, but I’ve tried everything (pro directional antennas, omni antennas, etc) and still get frequent disconnects. I suspect that Meo is deliberately disconnecting because of heavy use…

    Maybe Starlink is better?

    Reply
    • I had MEO with a 4G router and super antenna but got about 25Mbps download on a good day – OK for a few emails and a bit of browsing but not reliable. Have had Starlink since September and WOW! 280-300Mbps download and Alexa, streaming, video conferences all simultaneously with no problem. Have just had my latest bill and the price has now been reduced even further to €40 per month which is cheaper than what I was paying to MEO. Delivery and self install went well and love the way the app suggests the best place to install the dish and when done it automatically positions itself for the best alignment. Best decision I made to change. Think the initial hardware costs have also been reduced as well…

      Reply
  4. Starlink for Portugal has been EUR 65/month with a setup cost of EUR 450 since at least August 2022. You should update the prices in your article.

    Service is excellent due to the low subscriber density, and will probably remain that way.

    Reply

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