Enlarge /. A SpaceX Starlink user terminal / satellite dish.
SpaceX's Starlink satellite broadband service beta users will receive download speeds between 11 and 60 Mbps. This is evident from tests carried out with the speedtest.net tool from Ookla. Speed tests showed upload speeds between 5 Mbit / s and 18 Mbit / s.
The same tests done over the past two weeks showed latencies or ping rates ranging from 31 ms to 94 ms. This is not a comprehensive study of Starlink speeds and latency. It is therefore not clear whether Internet users should expect this when Starlink satellites are fully provisioned and the service hits commercial availability. We asked SpaceX some questions about the speed test results yesterday and will update this article as we get answers.
Links to 11 anonymized speed tests by Starlink users were posted by a Reddit user yesterday. Another Reddit user put together some of the tests to create this graphic:
Reddit user Snnackss
Update at 11:18 p.m. ET: A new Reddit post with more speed tests shows that some Starlink users are getting an even lower latency of 21ms and 20ms.
Beta testers are required to sign nondisclosure agreements, so these speed tests may be one of the few glimpses of actual performance during testing. SpaceX announced to the Federal Communications Commission that Starlink would eventually reach gigabit speeds, and in its 2016 application to the FCC said that "after being fully optimized by the final deployment, the system would provide high bandwidth (up to 1 Gbps per User) can provide ". Low latency broadband services for consumers and businesses in the US and worldwide. "SpaceX has launched approximately 600 satellites to date and is FCC cleared to launch nearly 12,000.
While not gigabit, 60Mbps is on par with some lower cable speed levels and is much faster than the speeds offered by many rural DSL services, where SpaceX is likely to be of great interest. On the Reddit thread, some internet users said they'd love to get the speeds indicated in the Starlink tests as they are currently stuck at 1Mbps or even less. An Ookla report on fixed broadband speeds in December 2018 found an average download speed in the US of 96.25 Mbps and an average upload speed of 32.88 Mbps. SpaceX plans to have up to 5 million home Internet subscribers in the US.
In March, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said, "We're aiming for a latency below 20 milliseconds so someone can play a responsive video game at a competitive level." SpaceX satellites have low-earth orbits of 540 km to 570 km, which gives them much lower latency than geostationary satellites, which have an orbit of approximately 35,000 km.
Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, questioned Musk's latency claims and proposed in May 2020 that SpaceX and all other satellite operators be classified as high latency providers – i.e. H. over 100 ms – for the purpose of distributing rural broadband funding. The FCC has withdrawn that plan, but companies like SpaceX are required to demonstrate they can offer low latencies, and they continued to express "serious doubts" that SpaceX and other similar vendors can deliver latencies of less than 100 ms.
Ping and latency are the same on Ookla speed tests, according to one of the service's help documents. It measures the round trip time in milliseconds when a client device sends a message to a server and the server sends back a response. "This test is repeated several times, with the lowest value determining the end result," says Ookla.
As the FCC wrote, satellite network latency "consists of the" propagation delay, "the time it takes a radio wave to travel from the satellite to the earth's surface and back, and the" processing delay, "the time it takes for it to travel Network to process the data. "The FCC also noted that" the propagation delay in a satellite network does not just take into account the latency in other parts of the network such as the processing, routing and transport of traffic to its destination. " FCC tests showed that "the cable latencies were between 18 ms and 24 ms, the fiber latencies between 5 ms and 12 ms and the DSL between 27 ms and 55 ms". Conventional broadband geostationary orbits satellites have a latency measured by the FCC of approximately 600 ms. However, this is not an indication of the lower latencies expected from low-earth orbit satellites.
While the Ookla speed test latencies for Starlink fail to reach Musk's goal of less than 20 ms, they are below the FCC's 100 ms threshold. For competitive online gaming, Ookla says players should be in a "winning" shape with latency or ping of 59 ms or less and "in the game" with latency or ping of up to 129 ms. The world's 35 best cities for online gaming have ping rates of 8 to 28 ms, according to an Ookla report last year.
Latency tests are affected by the distance between the user and the server. The Ookla tests uncovered on Reddit showed the tests were going to servers in Los Angeles and Seattle. SpaceX beta tests are planned for the northern United States and southern Canada, but a stop the cap story has it that testers are currently only in rural areas of Washington state.