Since May 2019, SpaceX has been regularly launching a batch of Starlink Internet satellites, and now there are hundreds of nodes in its giant constellation. This provides sufficient coverage, and SpaceX has begun beta testing of its new satellite Internet service. According to data from Ookla Speedtest (and analyzed by PCMag colleagues), Starlink is able to achieve its lofty speed requirements.
Starlink joins a market that has long been dominated by a few companies (such as HughesNet and Viasat). These companies provide slow satellite Internet and are the last choice for consumers who have no other choice. The current network has nearly 900 satellites, some of which have much lower orbits than traditional Internet satellites. This helps Starlink provide higher speed and lower latency.
Although Starlink’s equipment fee is $500 and the monthly fee is $100, which is not cheap, its performance is much better than other satellite Internet providers. In its invitation email, SpaceX promised to operate between 50 and 150Mbps, and it worked well within that range. With the release of the beta version, Ookla saw the average speed of Starlink rise from 30-40Mbps to 79.5Mbps.
Speed is not friendly to veterans of satellite Internet. HughesNet’s speed only dropped by 19.84Mbps, and Viasat’s 24.75Mbps was not better. The difference in upload speed is even more obvious. Currently, the average upload speed managed by Starlink is 13.8Mbps, while the speeds of HughesNet and Viasat are 2.64 and 3.25Mbps, respectively.
Everyone focuses on download speed, but you need to provide good uploads for video chats, which have become such an important part of our lives during the pandemic. Latency is also an important part of real-time services such as video chat. Starlink once again blew other satellite Internet services out of the water. Ookla data shows that Starlink has an average delay of 42 milliseconds. This is enough to make video chat bearable. In contrast, HughesNet has a delay of 728ms. SpaceX even claims that its network will be able to reach below 20 milliseconds by next summer. My home cable connection time is 8-10ms.
Currently, the Beta version of Starlink is only available to some customers in the northern United States. CEO Elon Musk said he hopes to extend the Beta version to Canada. In the end, the Starlink super constellation will have at least 12,000 satellites, covering most of the world.