5G vs. Starlink: Which is the Better Option for Rural Internet in Arizona?

5G vs. Starlink: Which is the Better Option for Rural Internet in Arizona?

When it comes to rural internet in Arizona, there are two options that stand out: 5G and Starlink. But which is the better choice?

What is 5G?

5G refers to the fifth generation of wireless technology, which promises faster speeds, lower latency, and better overall performance than previous generations. 5G networks use a combination of existing cell towers and new infrastructure, such as small cells and distributed antenna systems, to provide coverage.

What is Starlink?

Starlink is a satellite-based internet service provided by SpaceX, the private space exploration company founded by Elon Musk. Starlink’s constellation of satellites orbit the Earth at low altitudes, providing high-speed internet access to even the most remote locations.

Speed and Latency

When it comes to internet performance, two key factors are speed and latency. Speed refers to how quickly data can be downloaded or uploaded, while latency refers to the delay between when a request is made and when a response is received.

Both 5G and Starlink promise impressive speeds. 5G networks can deliver peak speeds of up to 20 Gbps, although real-world speeds are likely to be lower. In contrast, Starlink promises speeds of between 50 and 150 Mbps, which is more than enough for most internet activities.

Latency is where the two options differ. 5G networks are expected to have latency of around 1ms, which is almost instantaneous. Starlink’s latency, on the other hand, is currently around 20-40ms, which is higher than 5G but much lower than traditional satellite internet.

Coverage and Availability

One of the biggest advantages of Starlink is its coverage. Because the service is satellite-based, it can provide internet access to even the most remote areas. This is especially important in Arizona, where many rural communities have limited or no access to high-speed internet.

5G networks, on the other hand, are still in the process of being built out. While major cities and urban areas are likely to have 5G coverage in the near future, it may be years before rural areas are fully covered by 5G networks.

Cost and Equipment

Cost is always a consideration when choosing an internet service provider. 5G networks are likely to be provided by major cellular carriers, such as Verizon and AT&T, and will require a monthly subscription. The cost of 5G plans has not yet been announced, but they are likely to be more expensive than traditional cellular plans.

Starlink, on the other hand, requires an upfront investment in equipment. This includes a satellite dish and a modem, which currently cost around $500. In addition, Starlink requires a monthly subscription, which is currently priced at $99 per month. While the upfront cost may be a barrier for some, the monthly subscription is comparable to other high-speed internet options.


Overall, both 5G and Starlink have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to rural internet in Arizona. 5G networks promise faster speeds and lower latency, but may not be available in all rural areas for some time. Starlink, on the other hand, provides coverage to even the most remote locations, but requires an upfront investment in equipment.

Ultimately, the choice between 5G and Starlink will depend on a number of factors, including location, budget, and internet needs. It’s important to consider all of these factors when making a decision about which internet service provider to choose.

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