For some consumers, the Starlink service from SpaceX is becoming agonisingly slow.
When it initially launched as beta in 2020, the Starlink internet service was praised for its lightning fast speeds. However, according to the internet speed testing website Ookla, it becomes slower the more people use it.
According to a PC Gamer article, Starlink subscribers in the United States and Canada have noticed a considerable slowdown in download speeds recently. The problem is most likely the result of congestion brought on by the service’s popularity.
The latest Ookla analysis states that “Starlink speeds fell over the past year as more consumers sign up for service in every country we surveyed.” According to the study, between Q2 2021 and Q2 2022, median download speeds fell between five and 54% in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, & New Zealand.
The median download speed for Starlink in the United States fell from over 90 Megabits per second (Mbps) to roughly 62.5 Mbps. In the other nations surveyed, comparable drops were observed.
Although 62 Mbps isn’t a bad internet speed, it does help to highlight a number of issues for SpaceX and global community. Will SpaceX need to accelerate its already record-breaking launch rate of satellites into orbit even more in order to deliver on its internet service commitments?
Moreover, astronomers and scientists are organizing to demand more regulation and more research on the possible environmental impacts of satellite megaconstellations. In fact, NASA has even warned that Starlink satellites could interfere with their ability to detect a potentially dangerous asteroid heading towards Earth.
However, SpaceX has long claimed that its Starlink internet service will enable them to finance its Starship programme, which aims to eventually colonize Mars. The corporation is also collaborating with astronomical community, and it just disclosed new methods that it claims will render its satellites “invisible” to the naked eye.
The fact that more and more people are using Starlink is what’s causing the slowdown, therefore it’s possible to argue that SpaceX is fortunate to have this issue. However, the drop in speed may be caused in part by an influx of people going online to complain about the speed of their service on social media.
One user recently said in the subreddit r/Starlink, “Has anyone else’s Starlink speed been dropping down on a weekly basis? …This week, I’m barely breaking 45mbps.” Another user mentioned that their Starlink connection has reduced to 1-2 Mbps on some evenings.
However, the Ookla research points out that Starlink is still faster than all of its satellite internet competitors, including Viasat & HughesNet. Although the firm initially stated that consumers can expect speeds of between 100 and 200 Mbps, SpaceX does not advertise for its service at speeds of 60 Mbps or below.
The problem is that in order to achieve those speeds and battle user congestion, the skies will need to get significantly congested over the next few months and years.