Starlink U.S. Download Speeds Cut In Half Since Last Year Shows Small Survey

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With Space Exploration Technologies Corporation's (SpaceX) Starlink satellite internet constellation continuing to add more subscribers, its average download speeds continue to drop according to data contributed by some of the service's users from all over the globe. Starlink aims to develop a satellite constellation of thousands of spacecraft and eventually provide its users with internet connectivity that is minimally reliant on ground infrastructure.

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Today's data is from the website Starlinkstatus, which has been displaying data collected from users since the first quarter of last year. It is a project that requires users to install software on their devices and contribute to the data repository. Currently, as Starlink increases its global footprint, the number of countries contributing to the platform has also gone up, with New Zealand and Canada being the latest additions.

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The website displays data from the U.S, Europe and the rest of the world in three categories - the download and upload speeds, and the ping. The ping, commonly known as latency, is the time taken for data to travel from and back to a user, and it is used to evaluate a network's performance for several applications such as gaming and video conferencing.

Overall, Starlinkstatus uses data from 74 stations, which given the hundreds of thousands of users that are using the service, is a drop in the ocean. A speed test analysis conducted by Ookla, which operates the popular application SpeedTest, is a better indicator of the network's performance since it aggregates the data from a significantly larger number of users whence compared to StarlinkStatus.

The data shows that on average, Starlink users in the U.S. saw roughly 75 Mbps in download speeds, 10 Mbps in upload speeds and 56 milliseconds (ms) in latency. When compared to the results from last year, all three mark for drops from the 141 Mbps in download, 20 Mbps in upload and 51 ms in latency. However, diving a bit deeper into the data shows that Starlink's efforts to reduce latency are bearing fruit.

While the average latency has increased, the highest values had dropped. Last year's results from July had a maximum latency of 985 milliseconds and this has reduced to 567 ms this time around for a significant improvement of 41%.

Average speeds in the European Union and others have also dropped. Data from July 2021 listed average download speeds as 176 Mbps and 157 Mbps, upload speeds as 34 Mbps and 27 Mbps and ping as 34 ms and 44 ms, respectively. This time around, the download speeds sit at around 147 Mbps and 115 Mbps, upload speeds at 16 Mbps and 12 MBps and ping at 16 ms and 12 ms. However, as was the case with the American users, peak and minimum latencies have significantly improved.

These changes are only natural since the number of subscribers that have started to use Starlink has grown since July last year. The latest estimates provided by SpaceX to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in March claimed that it is now serving more than 400,000 consumers globally. When compared to the 145,000 Starlink subscribers at the start of this year, this is a large increase especially as the number of satellites that SpaceX can put into orbit continues to remain constrained because of the Falcon 9 rocket. On this front, SpaceX is developing its Starship rocket, which will come with the ability to launch hundreds of satellites in a single launch - significantly higher than what the Falcon 9 is capable of.

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