starlink satellite dish

The average download speed delivered to U.S. SpaceX Starlink satellite broadband subscribers increased 38% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to Ookla, the company responsible for a widely used broadband speed testing application.

The median Starlink download speed was 90.5 Mbps in 2022 compared with 65.7 Mbps in 2021. As a comparison, the median download speed for all types of fixed broadband providers approached 150 Mbps in the first quarter of 2022, according to Ookla.

U.S. Starlink uplink speeds decreased 33% over the same period, however, dropping from 16.3 Mbps to 9.3 Mbps, while median latency increased “marginally” from 40 ms to 43 ms, Ookla said.

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Source: Ookla

SpaceX Starlink service uses low earth orbit satellites designed to provider lower latency in comparison with traditional geostationary satellites. SpaceX is still in the process of launching satellites to support the offering and currently offers coverage throughout a portion of the U.S.

It’s important to note that the median speeds experienced in the first quarter of 2022 are below the speeds that SpaceX committed to delivering when it participated in the 2020 Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction. That program awarded funding to cover some of the costs of deploying service to unserved and underserved rural areas using a reverse auction, with funding for an area going to the company that pledged to provide service for the lowest level of support.

SpaceX was tentatively awarded nearly $900 million in the auction, but the FCC has not yet authorized the company’s funding. Opponents have argued that the funding should not go to SpaceX because the satellites have a lifespan of only about five years.

Concerns also have been raised about the company’s ability to meet the 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload speeds to which it committed, and the new Ookla data would seem to underscore those concerns.

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One thought on “Report: SpaceX Starlink Speeds Are Still RDOF Challenged

  1. “As a comparison, the median download speed for all types of fixed broadband providers approached 150 Mbps in the first quarter of 2022, according to Ookla.” — This would appear to be a bogus analysis.

    Ookla, principally a media company, part of the Ziff Davis conglomerate, perhaps doesn’t know any better than to lump end-to-end fiber optic providers together with legacy copper-based cable providers. When you mix 1Gb symmetrical optical services together with 100 Mbps hybrid fiber-coaxial services you’re going to get the biased result you’re looking for, which is SpaceX isn’t competitive. Nonsense.

    The space-based juggernaut absolutely is delivering the asymmetric data speeds it promised. Where it’s falling short is on round trip latency; 40ms is unacceptable because that amount of delay is perceptible and disruptive on both a voice call and a video chat. My download/upload speeds from Spectrum’s hybrid fiber-coaxial network just now were 94/11Mbps with 14ms latency. The latter number ensures quality VoIP on my Ooma service, and smooth video calling on Duo.

    The real story that Ookla missed is Starlink’s latency problem. Is the cause aggregate distance of the multiple satellite hops between the user terminal, the spacecraft and the ground station? Or are there too few data centers requiring long distance backhaul to interconnection points onto the internet? Or both? Starlink will need to cut its latency in half, at least, for it to provide reliable WiFi calling and video chatting.

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