Starlink speeds drop significantly in US amid congestion issues

Download speeds for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet system are seeing a sharp drop for users in the US and Canada, according to Speedtest data from Ookla.

In the second quarter — April through June — the average download rate for US-based Starlink users settled at 62.53 Mbps, down from 90.55 Mbps in the first quarter. Upload speeds also dropped, reaching just 7.24 Mbps compared to 9.33 Mbps.

In Canada, on the other hand, the median download speed was 75.73 Mbps, down from 97.40 Mbps, according to Ookla’s report(Opens in a new window)based on data from Speedtest.net(Opens in a new window)a website where anyone can check the speed of their internet connection.

Ookla data

(Image credit: Ookla)

Ookla blames the falling speeds on Starlink’s popularity. Hundreds of thousands of customers have signed up for SpaceX’s satellite internet service, which can bring high-speed broadband to rural areas with poor broadband service. However, the system’s rising popularity means that SpaceX’s network capacity is currently stretched across many areas of North America, resulting in slower speeds in cells already full of existing subscribers.

Ookla adds that the network congestion issues appear to be affecting Starlink users worldwide. “Starlink’s speed has dropped in every country we surveyed over the past year as more users sign up for the service,” the company wrote.

Oklahoma Europe

(Image credit: Ookla)

Still, Starlink’s broadband quality in Europe remains significantly better than in North America. According to the report, most countries in Europe are experiencing average download speeds in excess of 90Mbps or 100Mbps, often exceeding the performance of fixed-line broadband providers.

Ookla’s report comes as a growing number of users have complained(Opens in a new window) about slow speeds via Starlink, which is said to offer download rates of 50 to 200 Mbit/s for private subscribers. In some cases, affected users who suffer the congestion issue may appear(Opens in a new window) Your download speeds fall below 5 Mbps.

Speed ​​test result

Speedtest results showing a user’s slow Starlink speeds.

Ookla’s data is also one reason why the FCC decided last month to deny SpaceX $886 million in federal funding for the satellite internet service.

“We note that Ookla data reported through July 31, 2022 indicates that Starlink speeds have decreased from the final quarter of 2021 through the second quarter of 2022, including upload speeds falling well below 20 Mbps ‘ the FCC said at the time. Other factors in the rejection included Starlink’s “nascent” technology, its “recognized capacity constraints,” and concerns about the cost of the system to consumers.

SpaceX has appealed. “The decision should not stand and leave the people of these rural areas in our country behind again,” SpaceX told the FCC earlier this month.

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Despite the slowdown, Ookla says mean download speeds of over 60Mbps are still “more than enough for at least one connected device to do almost anything on the web, including streaming video, downloading games, and chatting on video.” with friends and family.” Starlink speeds are faster than rival satellite internet providers Viasat and HughesNet, Ookla notes.

Additionally, PCMag recently interviewed six users of Starlink’s “Best Effort” tier, and all gave glowing reviews of the service despite the downgraded speeds.

SpaceX has not commented publicly on Starlink’s congestion issues. However, the company has tacitly acknowledged the speed slowdown through its customer support channels. To address the congestion issues, SpaceX plans to launch thousands more Starlink satellites into orbit to increase broadband quality and network capacity. However, this requires the approval of the supervisory authorities.

Disclosure: Ookla is owned by PCMag parent company Ziff Davis.

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