The median download speed for customers of SpaceX Starlink broadband internet service was 104.97 Mbps during fourth quarter of 2021, according to Ookla, provider of widely used speed test technology. That’s an increase from the third quarter of the year when Starlink’s average speed was 87.25 Mbps.
It’s good news for SpaceX, which had been seeing steady speed gains until third quarter, when the median speed decreased, leading to speculation that perhaps speeds were declining as more customers were added.
SpaceX Starlink Speed
SpaceX Starlink service is delivered from low earth orbit (LEO) satellites – an approach that reduces latency in comparison with traditional geostationary satellite broadband, but which requires thousands more satellites. SpaceX already has satellites in orbit to cover a substantial part of the U.S. and some other countries but is still launching more satellites to meet its initial deployment plans.
The speeds that Starlink can support are important because the company was tentatively awarded close to $900 million in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction to cover some of the costs of bringing broadband to unserved rural areas. The company committed to delivering service supporting speeds of 100 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps upstream.
The latest Ookla data suggests the company could meet the downstream speed requirement, but still has a way to go to meet the upstream requirement. The median upload speed for the service was 12.04 Mbps during the fourth quarter, which was a slight decline from a median of 13.54 Mbps during third quarter.
As for latency, Starlink’s median performance in the fourth quarter was 40 ms. That’s worse than the 14 ms median for terrestrial broadband but would be sufficient to meet RDOF requirements.
An Ookla blog post about Starlink’s fourth-quarter performance includes a map showing median download speeds for select U.S. counties.
Ookla noted that Miami Dade County in Florida has the fastest median download speed at 191.08 Mbps, while Columbia County in Oregon had the slowest speed at 64.95 Mbps.