Starlink is getting much slower as more people use it, speed tests show

A Starlink satellite dish on top of a house.

Starlink

Starlink’s median download speed in the United States dropped from 90.6 Mbps to 62.5 Mbps between the first and second quarter of 2022, according to Ookla speed tests. Starlink’s median upload speed in the US dropped from 9.3 Mbps to 7.2 Mbps over the same time frame.

Median latency also worsened slightly for Starlink’s US customers from 43 ms to 48 ms. The latest numbers are in Ooka’s Q2 2022 report on Starlink’s speeds around the world, released Tuesday. “Starlink’s speeds have declined across the countries we surveyed over the past year as more users sign up for the service,” says this week’s report. The Q1 report is available here.

The second quarter report notes significant year-over-year decreases in Starlink speeds in a number of countries, while noting that overall performance is still pretty good:

Speedtest Intelligence reveals that Starlink’s median download speed has declined in Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, falling between 9% and 54% from Q2 2021 to Q2 2022 as and when that multiple users have subscribed to the service. However, Starlink still achieved an average download speed of at least 60 Mbps in North America during the second quarter of 2022, which is more than enough for at least one connected device to do almost everything on the internet, including streaming video, downloading. games and video chat with friends and family.

Upload speed has also slowed down on Starlink, with speeds declining in all of the countries we’ve tracked over the past year. Latency fared slightly better with latency remaining relatively flat (albeit high compared to fixed broadband) in most countries. New Zealand was the outlier, with latency dropping by 23 ms. For most users, we still suspect these dips are still useful for areas that don’t have services, slow services, or few convenient options for fast Internet.

A year ago, in the second quarter of 2021, Ookla reported Starlink’s median download speed in the United States of 97.2 Mbps, uploads of 13.9 Mbps, and latency of 45 ms. On its website, Starlink says users should expect download speeds of 50 to 200 Mbps, upload speeds of 10 to 20 Mbps, and latency of 20 to 40 ms.

FCC cited Ookla’s testing when it denied Starlink’s license

Ookla’s reports, based on user-initiated speed tests, were cited by the Federal Communications Commission last month when it rejected Starlink’s request to receive $ 885.51 million in broadband funding that had been provisionally awarded. during the tenure of then president Ajit Pai. The FCC said it doubts Starlink can deliver the speeds required by the grant of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload.

“We observe that Ookla data reported as of July 31, 2022 indicates that Starlink speeds have declined from the last quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2022, including upload speeds that are dropping well below 20 Mbps,” he said. stated the FCC at the time. Ookla, a private company, operates a widely used speed testing service and boasts that its data is often used by government and regulatory bodies.

The FCC’s doubts are also fueled by what the agency has called Starlink’s “recognized capacity constraints.” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly acknowledged Starlink’s capacity limitations, for example, stating that the satellite service will face “a challenge. [serving everyone] when we enter the range of several million users. “Starlink had nearly 500,000 users in 32 countries, according to a presentation by SpaceX Musk published on his Twitter account in early June.

This month, Starlink asked the FCC to cancel the grant decision and award the funding, saying the agency “relied on unauthorized external speed testing.” Starlink also said speeds would improve with more satellites launching. “First, Ookla’s data spans a period of more than three years before the first milestone of SpaceX’s mandatory deployment in 2025. But by 2025, the Starlink network will have substantially greater capacity than it previously had. time of the speed tests in question, “the SpaceX division told the FCC.

Starlink has so far more than 3,000 satellites in orbit. The internet provider has permission from the FCC to deploy nearly 12,000 satellites, including those already operational, and is seeking permission to launch tens of thousands eventually.

Users complain about the slowdown in speed

In addition to the speed tests, anecdotal evidence suggests that Starlink has slowed down as the number of users increases. A July PCMag article quoted several users complaining about speeds, including one user from Texas who “found download speeds on his Starlink dish that can drop as low as 1 Mbps, especially during the evening.” Multiple users have complained of slowdowns in threads on the Starlink subreddit.

Despite the evidence that Starlink is getting slower, Ookla’s second-quarter data shows it clearly outperforms Viasat and HughesNet satellite services which have lower speeds and much worse latency. In the US, Viasat recorded median download speeds of 23.7 Mbps, upload speeds of 2.8 Mbps, and latency of 631 ms. HughesNet was measured at 22.6 Mbps download, 2.5 Mbps upload, and 716 ms of latency.

Fixed broadband is still the best. Overall, fixed broadband services in the United States recorded median download speeds of 150.1 Mbps, upload speeds of 21.5 Mbps, and latency of 14 ms, the second quarter Ookla report said.

From the start, it was clear that Starlink is more appropriate for people who don’t have a solid cable or fiber connection in their homes. Recent data doesn’t change this general conclusion, but Starlink users who are achieving slower-than-expected speeds have good reason to be frustrated.