According to data from Ookla Speedtest Intelligence, Elon Musk's Starlink satellite internet project is faster than its retail competitors. But then again, nobody really uses it yet.
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This story originally appeared on PC Mag
The first tests from SpaceX's Starlink internet project show an average speed of up to 70 megabits according to an exclusive analysis of the Ookla Speedtest Intelligence data from PCMag.
Starlink's beta invites ran out this week, but Speedtest Intelligence has been collecting data on them throughout the development phase that they have just given us. The system currently has 895 small, relatively low-flying satellites in the sky and will eventually deploy 12,000 of them.
The company recently reported speeds of "50 Mbps to 150 Mbps" in an email to beta test users. The results that we are seeing are broadly in line with this.
Starlink's speed has increased dramatically in the past few months as the project gets closer to launch.
Currently, Starlink is joining HughesNet and Viasats Exede as the final Internet service provider for rural users who cannot get cable or fiber. Starlink's speed is a huge leap over existing satellite systems. According to Speedtest Intelligence, HughesNet averaged 19.84 Mbit / s in October 2020, while Viasat's Exede system averaged 24.75 Mbit / s.
The difference in upload speed is even greater. In September, HughesNet averaged just 2.64 Mbps, while Exede averaged 3.25 Mbps.
Starlink speeds easily outperform Exede and HughesNet.
Starlink's real gain, however, lies in latency. The latency in the last tests varied a lot, but averaged 42 ms. This is much longer than wired Internet systems, but shorter than HughesNet and Exede, which averaged 728 ms and 643 ms, respectively, in September. The company expects to "reach 16 to 19 ms by summer 2021". According to Speedtest Intelligence data, 4G LTE is currently in the latency range of 40 ms. My home fiber connection has 2-3 ms latency.
The combination of uplink speed and latency is very important to our video chat world. Participating in Zoom calls requires both a clear uplink and relatively low latency, which means it has been very difficult for people using existing satellite links. Starlink could offer rural users much better remote learning opportunities.
June Starlink satellite launch
Photo credit: Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel / Tribune News Service / Getty Images
Lower latency is one of the great advantages of the new "low earth orbit" satellite systems. Starlink's many small satellites orbit about 340 miles above the earth, while the satellites for HughesNet and Exede are 22,000 miles high. So it takes much longer for a signal to go up and down to the satellites of older models.
However, the satellite Internet service still comes at a heavy cost: $ 99 per month in Starlink's beta phase plus $ 499 for the satellite dish and WiFi router. There's no word on data caps for Starlink, but it's in beta after all.
The HughesNet 20GB, 25Mbps plan is $ 69.99 / month. Viasat's 12Mbps unlimited plan with 40GB of data before deprioritization is $ 100 per month. The 30 Mbps plan costs $ 200 per month.
Disclosure: Ookla is owned by PCMag parent company Ziff Davis.