Starlink’s internet speeds are slowing, but there’s a simple explanation

Starlink relies on thousands of small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), 550 kilometers above the earth, to transmit the Internet to transceivers on the ground, which in turn broadcast locally or connect directly to your Starlink router. SpaceX plans to deploy up to 30,000 satellites to provide global Internet coverage through Starlink (some figures bring the total to 42,000).

Elon Musk claims that Starlink offers the fastest internet speeds in the world, with near-zero latency (delay). However, Starlink’s internet speeds in the United States have reportedly declined recently. Let’s see why.

Starlink’s average download speeds in the United States fell from 97.23 Mbps to 87.25 Mbps in the second half of 2021, according to Speedtest by Ookla, which measures the speed and performance of their users’ Internet connections. . That’s significantly slower than the average download speed of all fixed broadband service providers in the United States over the same period, which fell from 115.22 Mbps to 119.84 Mbps.

Related: What Is Starlink And How Does Satellite Internet Work?

However, Starlink remains extremely fast compared to its satellite competitors HughesNet, which lagged considerably behind at 19.30 Mbps, and Viasat, which placed third at 18.75 Mbps.

Space x rocket launches into space

As Ookla notes, the obvious explanation is that Starlink is adding customers. The more customers they have, the slower the speeds will be. This will continue to be the case until Starlink launches more satellites to increase capacity.

Related: Key Facts About Elon Musk’s Internet Starlink You Need To Know

Starlink is working hard to achieve this. In December 2021, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched 52 Starlink satellites, bringing the total number of Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit to nearly 2,000. Thousands more will be launched in 2022 and beyond.


Latency is the key

The most important metric, however, is latency, which simply refers to the delay between sending and receiving an Internet signal, and is measured in milliseconds. High latency has various impacts including slow website load times, delayed emails, inability to play games, poor video and voice calls, and poor overall application performance.

Starlink continues to perform very well in the latency department, with a low latency of 44ms. This compares well to the fixed broadband latency which is 15ms. Other satellite ISPs are doing very poorly, with high latency times of 744ms for HughesNet and 629ms for Viasat.

So if you live in a remote part of the United States with no fixed broadband and are an avid gamer or work from home, your best bet is a Starlink connection.

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