SpaceX Early Speed Test Results Are In: How Do They Compare to Expectations?

In early 2019, Elon Musk’s SpaceX was approved to launch 12,000 satellites into space to create a low orbit network of satellites with a goal to bring affordable high speed internet to the US and the rest of the world.

When Starlink internet was first announced, SpaceX promoted it as being faster than current internet services. In March 2020, Elon Musk did a Q&A session at the Satellite 2020 conference and gave some more details about the service, sharing that it will be fast enough to game with.

“We’re targeting latency below 20 milliseconds, so somebody could play a fast-response video game at a competitive level,” Musk commented.

When Musk shared on Twitter a rough timeline for private and public beta testing, the internet started watching for the results of the testing and those numbers are now starting to come in.

Ars Technica first reported on a Reddit thread showing results of 11 anonymized speed tests by Starlink users, with results compiled into the graphic below.

Image: Reddit user Snnackss

Beta users for Starlink satellite broadband service are reportedly seeing download speeds from 11Mbps to 60Mbps and upload speeds from 5Mbps to 18Mbps, with tests conducted with Ookla’s speedtest.net tool. Ping rates ranged from 31ms to 94ms, with later reports showing latency of 20ms and 21ms. The FCC requires latencies below 100ms, while Ookla recommends 59ms or lower for gaming.

The speeds reported so far are below SpaceX’s original goal of offering 1Gbps speeds. However, the speeds being shown in these early tests would be an improvement on most internet services currently offered in rural areas, which was a priority for SpaceX from the beginning. Early this year, PC Mag reported that many rural areas had internet speeds of 7 Mbps or lower.  

As Ars Technica points out, beta testers were required to sign non-disclosure agreements, so we likely won’t get the full details of beta test results right away.

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