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SpaceX Expecting 100Mbps Broadband from Starlink Satellites UPDATE

Friday, September 4th, 2020 (12:29 pm) - Score 5,843
spacex_leo_starlink_vs_gso_broadband_satellite

SpaceX has revealed the results from their most recent “official” testing of the new future mega constellation of small Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Starlink satellites, which they claim has now “shown super low latency” and download speeds “greater than 100Mbps” (Megabits per second).

The figures have not been independently confirmed, but would mark a welcome improvement over some of the initial tests that leaked out last month (here). On the other hand the new results are still a long way from the “gigabit” or “fibre-like” levels of performance that have been stated in the past, although there’s still plenty of scope for improvement as the constellation grows, improves ground station utilisation and begins to harness more spectrum bands etc.

After this week’s launch SpaceX now has over 700 LEOs in orbit around our planet and that’s just shy of the 800 they’re targeting in order to deliver partial global coverage for an early commercial launch, albeit not reaching the UK for awhile (the first customers will be in the USA and Canada). We also recently got our first glimpse of the beta setup for the new service and its terminals (here).

As it stands the satellite operator has an initial ambition to deploy 4,425 LEOs by 2024 (possibly followed by 10,000+ at a later date). However, despite the positives for rural broadband connectivity, many astronomers will no doubt be concerned at any increase in the number of LEOs, particularly with SpaceX’s early fleet causing more than a few irritations for observational science (mitigation efforts are underway but it remains to be seen how effective those will be).

UPDATE 8:10am

A post on reddit has revealed one of SpaceX’s recent submissions to the FCC (here), which confirms some known facts but also reveals the results from three recent officially approved beta speed tests via Ookla’s speedtest.net service. The figures are as follows (take note that the figures for test 2 and 3 are indeed identical).

Test 1
Download 103.07Mbps
Upload 41.99Mbps
Latency 19ms (milliseconds)

Test 2
Download 102.88Mbps
Upload 40.58Mbps
Latency 18ms

Test 3
Download 102.88Mbps
Upload 40.58Mbps
Latency 18ms

Sadly, no information was included to clarify the exact LEO setup for this test, although it is revealed that they were using “standard user equipment” and expect “round trip to internet” latency times of faster than 40-50ms from their platform. Just remember, tests issued by the operator itself will always attempt to show the service in its best light and might not reflect real-world experiences for every user.

The document also reveals that SpaceX now expect to deploy a slightly reduced number of LEOs from than their original plan stated (i.e. 4,408 satellites by 2024 than 4,425). The company is currently building about 120 of these per month. Credits to one of our readers (Steve) for pointing this document out.

Leave a Comment
22 Responses
  1. Avatar Ryan says:

    Fantastic work so far! Looking forward to seeing it progress.

    For the millions in ignored areas of the UK LEO satellites are our only hope of faster internet speed. Even 100 would be life changing for some people.

    1. Avatar Chayne says:

      I live in a town, 100m from a FTTC cabinet. 100mbps would still be double the speed I’m getting now.

    2. Avatar NE555 says:

      It’s still very unclear how many subscribers a single satellite will support. If there are a couple of satellites visible over the UK at any time, and say each one supports 10,000 subscribers (e.g. 10G shared, average 1Mbps each), then the impact on overall broadband availability will be minimal.

      I also expect it will be priced at a level that only commercial users can justify – vehicle fleets for example. If you’re expecting 100Mbps with unlimited usage for £20 per month, you are likely to be disappointed.

    3. Avatar Jonathan says:

      @Chayne if you are genuinely 100m from your cabinet then there is something seriously wrong if you can only get 50Mbps. I am three times that distance and get basically a full 80/20.

    4. Avatar Gary says:

      Might well be 100m from ‘An’ FTTC cabinet, doesn’t mean its the one he’s connected to.

    5. Avatar NGA for all says:

      Ryan, uncontracted to BDUK there is only 600k premises in England that need an upgrade and there £788m in BT’s accounts to do the work.

      Business case will need to be based on military and security applications.

  2. Avatar Samuel says:

    Chayne I have FTTC and 100 Mbps is still 10x faster than what I can get.

  3. Avatar Fermanagh Rural says:

    They should call it FTTA (Fibre Through The Air), the ASA will easily approve it.
    Is super low latency (40+ ms) following the same definition as super fast broadband?
    I expect Fibre like speeds from my FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) land based connection.
    Guess what speed I get?

    1. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      How about they sell speed banding like Stellar-fast, galactic-fast and Singularity-fast. That’d fit in well with the UK’s current naming convention.

  4. Avatar Gary says:

    A little over stated Ryan, Leo isn’t our only hope at all in the UK. Also depends on where the initial 1.1 million kilos of space junk goes.
    Not to worry if musk doesn’t cover you there’s competition in the market to create alternative ‘orbital landfill’ solutions.

  5. Avatar David says:

    Gosh I remember going on the portal and booking a download via 56k uplink and then waiting till midnight to get it from the satellite (was 12-4am window to download) and even then it came down at 1mbps and I was in heaven.I still have the dish on my house and the massive modem we had to use in the computer to connect to it. Had a funky blue box too

    How things have changed.

  6. Avatar Joshbosh says:

    105 pounds at today’s exchange rate for 20/10 and I have fibre to the house. 100/50 is an ungodly 280 pounds. Oh the joys of moving to the Caribbean.

  7. Avatar jeff says:

    I have fibre to house 900mbps up/900mbps down

    what a waste of space junk

    1. Avatar UseYourHead says:

      Ah yes, Jeff’s FTTP connection completely invalidates the existence of a technology which can bring 100Mbps broadband to anywhere in the UK, especially to those with access to nothing but the most basic 5 Mbps landline connection.

    2. Avatar Tony Brady says:

      Has it ever crossed your brilliant mind that perhaps others do not have access to 900 meg broadband? LEO Broadband is perfect for those living in areas of the country where the only means of accessing the internet is via something akin to a cup and a piece of string.

      Don’t be so dense 🙂

    3. Avatar Gary HILTON says:

      @Tony LEO satellite is far from ‘Perfect’ for rural users in the UK, If it was available right now at a reasonable cost that would be great for some yes, but 100Mbps at that latency isn’t the saviour of rural connectivity not in the medium/long term. The potential for LEO globally in areas that are genuinely ‘remote and hard to reach’ is huge to the tiny land mass that is the UK which certainly doesn’t require LEO to reach universal connectivity at a much more forward looking capacity.

  8. Avatar Neil says:

    It was also mentioned that inter satellite links were tested in the previous batch. Just two satellites had the capability, and it was the hundreds of gigabits range transfer speed. So high value low latency data systems need apply.

    I read/heard it was getting the lasers to dis integrate fully on reentry was the problem, resulting in the delay on this piece of functionality.

  9. Avatar Wally76 says:

    Sounds pretty good, but a bit of a climb down from the original expected speed.
    I want to see what oneweb will do, are they even offering any service, I know they have birds up there already.

  10. Avatar Elaine Hickling says:

    Personally I can’t wait. I live in a rural village and have to be grateful for 3Mbps on a, good day with a following wind.

    For this we have the privilege of paying BT over £80 a month as they’re the only isp that supplies the village. Oh to be able to watch a Facebook video in one go without buffering and freezing. A girl can but dream!

    1. Avatar Gary says:

      80 quid for what tech connection that gives you 3Mbps ? How are you tied to BT only as a provider.

  11. Avatar James says:

    I’m interested to see how the speeds will look once the network is being shared by various consumers, and after they have implemented their improvements.

    The wording here is unclear, are the predicted fibre-like levels of performance intended to be from the average consumer’s perspective, or from each satellite?

  12. Avatar John says:

    Anyone remember Aramiska…

    John

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