SpaceX Starlink Smokes Satellite Internet Rivals In Latest Speed Tests

Starlink Satellite
Can broadband service beamed from satellite dishes rival fixed lines that run in the ground and into our homes? It is starting to look that way. As it applies to satellite internet, Starlink is leading the way with the fastest download speeds, and it is not even close. That is good news for consumers who live in remote areas, and bad news for companies like HughsNet.

For anyone who is not familiar with Starlink, it is an ambitious attempt by SpaceX to send thousands of satellites into low orbit, in order to offer reasonably priced broadband service that would be available virtually everywhere. If ultimately successful, this would be a boon to people who live well outside the confines of fixed broadband coverage.

Starlink is currently being tested in beta. As things stand, the service claims users in most locations can expect speeds to range from 50Mbps to 150Mbps, with latency coming in at 20ms to 40ms. And the company says speeds and latency could "improve dramatically" over time as it launches more satellites and makes improvements on the software side.

Starlink Speedtest
Click to Enlarge (Source: Ookla)

The folks at Ookla, which runs the popular Speedtest website, rounded up some comparison data and the results are impressive. It shows that the median download speed for Starlink now sits at 97.23Mbps, compared to 65.72Mbps last quarter.

That is still a little shy of the median download speed for fixed broadband, which according to Ookla's collection of benchmarks, sits at 115.22Mbps. However, that's fairly close. And compared to other satellite providers, Starlink is way out ahead, and at a much lower latency (45ms, versus 724ms for HughsNet and 630ms for Viasat).

"Critically, Starlink was the only satellite internet provider with a median latency that was anywhere near that seen on fixed broadband in Q2 2021 (45 ms and 14 ms, respectively). A low latency connection is more responsive, making it essential for many common applications such as voice and video calling, gaming and live streaming of content," Ookla noted in its report.

This is largely due to the low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation that Starlink is using. They are only around 550 to 1,500 km above the earth's surface, whereas satellites used by other providers have much higher 'geosynchronous' orbits of around 35,000 km.

Upload speed is impressive too—the median is reported to be 13.89Mbps, compared to 2.34Mbps for HughsNet and 3.38Mbps for Viasnet. Fixed broadband, meanwhile, maintains its edge here as well at 17.18Mbps, but once again, the gap is not all that way.

The performance metrics are both impressive and promising for Starlink, which currently has around 1,800 satellites deployed and nearly 100,000 users testing its service. If things go to plan, it will have continuous global coverage by next month (September, 2021).

Top Image Source: SpaceX (via Flickr)