SpaceX Starlink Speedtest results are very inconsistent

Ewdison Then - May 7, 2021, 1:28am CDT
SpaceX Starlink Speedtest results are very inconsistent

Elon Musk envisioned that SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation would be able to deliver Internet to areas underserved by most carriers. The service, however, would have to cater to a broad range of users and locations located in a narrow band of areas where those satellites could actually reach. Starlink promised speeds faster than your average DSL or fiber Internet and Speedtest creator Ookla discovered that be true but only for certain areas. In others, it actually did worse than what consumers already had.

Always take benchmarks with a grain of salt, of course, and Speedtest has been called out more than once for some of its methods or results. That said, if used across a series of tests, it does serve as a metric and starting point for discussion. And there will probably be a lot of that discussion around these results from Starlink.

Given Musk’s goals and boasts about Starlink speeds, it’s easy enough to be disappointed with Speedtest’s results in areas covered by the service in the US and Canada. Median download speeds ranged from 40 Mbps to 93 Mbps, a far cry from the above 100 Mbps figures that were initially reported. What makes the situation worse is that the median may actually be worse than fixed broadband in some areas.

That said, these results were actually a bit expected if you examine the locations that gave the best and worse speeds. The worst ones were located in dense cities with tall buildings that would have naturally blocked satellite signals from getting through with full strength. Satellite Internet, after all, works better in wide, open spaces.

That does raise questions on whether Starlink will be a viable business in the long run. The people that would benefit the most from such an Internet connection might not be located in places that would actually afford such a service. Then again, the constellation is far from complete yet and the service could improve once more satellite litter our skies.

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