Starlink is getting a lot slower as more people use it, speed tests show

A Starlink satellite dish on top of a house.

star link

Starlink’s average download speeds in the US fell from 90.6 Mbps to 62.5 Mbps between the first and second quarters of 2022, according to Ookla speed tests. Average Starlink upload speeds in the US dropped from 9.3 Mbps to 7.2 Mbps in the same time period.

Average latency also got a bit worse for US Starlink customers, going from 43ms to 48ms. The most recent numbers are in Ooka’s Q2 2022 report on Starlink speeds around the world, released Tuesday. “Starlink speeds have declined in every country we surveyed over the past year as more users sign up for the service,” said this week’s report. The Q1 report is available here.

The Q2 report notes significant year-over-year declines in Starlink speeds in numerous countries, while noting that overall performance is still pretty good:

Speedtest Intelligence reveals that average Starlink download speeds fell in Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the UK, and the US, falling between 9 and 54 percent from Q2 2021 to Q2 2021. 2022 as more users signed up for the service. However, Starlink still reached an average download speed of at least 60 Mbps in North America during the second quarter of 2022, which is more than enough for at least one connected device to do almost everything on the Internet, including streaming video. , download games, and video chat with friends and family.

Upload speeds also dropped on Starlink, with speeds dropping in every country we’ve tracked over the last year. Latency fared slightly better, and latency remained relatively flat (although high compared to fixed broadband) in most countries. New Zealand was the outlier, with latency dropping 23ms. For most users, we still suspect these drops are worth it for areas that have no service, slow service, or few affordable options for fast internet.

A year ago, in Q2 2021, Ookla reported Starlink US average download speeds of 97.2 Mbps, uploads of 13.9 Mbps, and latency of 45 ms. On its website, Starlink says that users should expect download speeds of 50 to 200 Mbps, upload speeds of 10 to 20 Mbps, and latency of 20 to 40 ms.

FCC cited Ookla evidence in denying Starlink grant

Ookla’s reports, based on user-initiated speed tests, were cited by the Federal Communications Commission last month when it rejected Starlink’s application to receive $885.51 million in broadband funding that had been tentatively granted during the tenure of then President Ajit Pai. The FCC said it doubts Starlink can provide the speeds required by the 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload subsidy.

“We note that Ookla data reported as of July 31, 2022 indicates that Starlink speeds have declined from Q4 2021 to Q2 2022, including upload speeds that are well below 20 Mbps.” the FCC said at the time. . Ookla, a private company, operates a widely used speed testing service and boasts that its data is often used by government and regulatory bodies.

The FCC’s doubts are also fueled by what the agency called Starlink’s “recognized capacity limitations.” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has acknowledged Starlink’s capacity limits multiple times, for example saying the satellite service will face “a challenging [serving everyone] when we entered the multi-million user range.” Starlink had nearly 500,000 users in 32 countries, according to a presentation by SpaceX Musk aware on his Twitter account in early June.

This month, Starlink asked the FCC to reverse the grant decision and award the funds, saying the agency “relied on unauthorized external speed tests.” Starlink also said speeds would improve as it launched more satellites. “First, the Ookla data covers a time period of more than three years before SpaceX’s first mandatory deployment milestone in 2025. But by 2025, the Starlink network will have substantially more capacity than it had at the time of the speed tests in question”. the SpaceX division told the FCC.

Starlink has more than 3,000 satellites in orbit so far. The Internet provider has permission from the FCC to deploy nearly 12,000 satellites, including those already in operation, and is seeking authorization to launch tens of thousands eventually.

Users complain about speed slowdown

In addition to speed tests, anecdotal evidence suggests that Starlink slowed down as the number of users grew. A PCMag article in July cited several users complaining about speeds, including a user in Texas who “found download speeds on his Starlink dish that can drop as low as 1 Mbps, especially at night.” More users complained about slow threads on the Starlink subreddit.

Despite evidence that Starlink is getting slower, Ookla’s Q2 data shows that it clearly outperforms Viasat and HughesNet satellite services that have lower speeds and much worse latency. In the US, Viasat posted average download speeds of 23.7 Mbps, upload speeds of 2.8 Mbps, and latency of 631 ms. HughesNet was measured at 22.6 Mbps downloads, 2.5 Mbps uploads, and 716 ms latency.

Fixed broadband is still the best. Overall, fixed broadband services in the US saw average download speeds of 150.1 Mbps, uploads of 21.5 Mbps, and latency of 14 ms, according to the Q2 Ookla report.

From the start, it was clear that Starlink is more appropriate for people who don’t have a solid cable or fiber connection in their homes. Recent data doesn’t change that general conclusion, but Starlink users experiencing slower-than-expected speeds have good reason to be frustrated.

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