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Space Exploration Technologies Corp.'s (SpaceX) Starlink satellite internet cancellation service has surpassed 500Mbps in download speed in an internet speed test conducted in Germany. This is one of the highest scores for Starlink that we've come across, even though the service is still in its beta test stages, with SpaceX aggressively building out the constellation by establishing an aggressive launch cadence.
Starlink's Latest Speed Test Underscores Service's Potential But Does Not Demonstrate Everyday Performance
With SpaceX regularly launching satellites and upgrading its network, users across the United States have experienced impressive one-off Starlink download speeds. We've covered some of these before, with one reader from California reporting 200 Mbps of speeds last month.
While that in itself was impressive, another user who resides in Kassel, Germany, shared his scores on the online chat board Reddit last week. His first speed test through Ookla's Speed Test saw Starlink download data at an eye-popping 542 Mbps. An upload speed of 38.8 Mbps accompanied this, and more importantly, a latency of 9 milliseconds. Another test run conducted an hour later demonstrated even more remarkable results as the service touched 560 Mbps in download speed, but its latency dropped slightly to 13 milliseconds.
Naturally, since other Starlink users have also reported high-speed test results through a limited number of runs, a user asked the original poster to clear his browser cookies and re-run the test. Unfortunately, even this didn't stop Starlink, which, as the poster had suggested, seemed to be "on crack" in a reference to a variant of the stimulant controlled substance cocaine.
Since each Starlink satellite has limited bandwidth, the speed that a user can experience depends on several factors. The first of these is the number of other users within the same 'shell,' i.e., the region covered by a group of satellites. The second depends on whether satellites are present in orbit, and speeds can also be affected by ground networks that are eventually responsible for transferring data back and from the Internet servers.
By rolling out its second generation of Starlink satellites, SpaceX plans to remove ground networks partially from the equation. These satellites will feature laser links for inter-satellite connectivity and help the spacecraft transfer data in-between them. The company currently uses some of such satellites in polar regions like Alaska, but the extent to which they will remove dependence on ground infrastructure is unclear.
Additionally, while such scores are impressive as they demonstrate the system's capability, Starlink's targetted markets, for the time being, are rural and underserved areas, particularly in the United States. The internet service has to demonstrate test results that are far lower than the scores we've shared today to serve these regions.
Data compiled by Ookla which was revealed earlier this month demonstrated that the bulk of Starlink users met the Federal Communications Commission's criteria to secure funding to deploy internet across rural America. More importantly, it cemented the service's lead over traditional satellite internet service providers HughesNet and Viasat. Both of them have networks with significantly slower speeds than what SpaceX provides when comparing Starlink's latest scores with data gathered by PCMag late last year.