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Ookla Data Reveals Starlink’s UK Satellite Broadband Speeds

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021 (4:43 pm) - Score 9,336
starlink user terminal SpaceX

A new report from Ookla (Speedtest.net) has revealed how fast SpaceX’s new Starlink constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) ultrafast broadband satellites are for UK customers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it comfortably beats fixed broadband ISPs for median (average) download speeds, but uploads and latency are another matter.

At present SpaceX has well over 1,600 active LEOs in orbit (space) around the earth and their initial ambition is to deploy a total of 4,425 by 2024, which could potentially be followed by as many as 12,000 at a later date (possibly late 2026). The service has already gone live in the USA, Canada, the UK and is now extending into Europe and other parts of the world, albeit still in a pre-launch beta phase.

Beta customers in the UK have to pay £89 a month for the service, plus £54 for shipping and £439 for the kit (dish, router etc.). But for that the operator claims you can expect to receive unlimited usage, fast latency times of 20-40ms, download speeds of between 50-150Mbps and uploads of c.20Mbps (such figures will improve as their network grows).

We’ve already seen some limited real-world data on Starlink’s consumer performance (here), but now Ookla has published solid data for the UK and several other countries. The good news is that the network’s average (median) performance is largely in keeping with their currently claims.

Starlink’s Broadband Speeds Q2 2021 (UK)

Download 108.30Mbps

Upload 15.64Mbps

Latency 37ms (lower figures are faster)

By comparison, the average fixed line broadband download speeds over the same period were 50.14Mbps, with uploads of 14.76Mbps and latency times of 15ms. However, it is unfair to compare a specific new technology with a broad market average (this will be dragged down by legacy connections), and no doubt the results would be very different if we compared Starlink to Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) providers etc.

Nevertheless, the results bode well for those in rural areas and show that Starlink are holding to their advertised end-user performance commitments, even though cost and connection stability are still problem areas. We should add that, over in the USA, Starlink scored a download speed of 97.23Mbps, uploads of 13.89Mbps and latency of 45ms.

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22 Responses
  1. Buggerlugz says:

    Disappointing, if your forking out £450 for the starlink kit and end up with only speeds which 4G “should” easily provide. Granted the latency is better, but come on, who in their right minds going to fork out that to become a guinea pig for Elon’s project?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Quite a few people, since getting those kinds of speeds via 4G in rural areas is incredibly rare due to how mobile technology works and is deployed. Plus even getting a 4G signal in such areas is still quite tricky for a lot of people, as even the operator’s own overly optimistic coverage maps could attest

    2. Kenneth says:

      A relative of mine lives on a farm just 12 miles out of town. Their speed is 1-3mbits download with no fttc available.
      It would make sense for them to get it if working from home and use smart tvs etc.

    3. CarlT says:

      Starlink: these are our anticipated speed ranges and latency for right now.

      Ookla: Starlink are achieving those ranges and target latency.

      Buggerlugz: ‘Disappointing’.

    4. Doriyo says:

      Me for one and many others I know as well! If I could get any decent speed from 4G I would use it. Here I have a choice of bad ADSL, bad 4G, waiting for Connecting Devon and Somerset (hah!) or try Starlink. In my experience Starlink is amazing and I certainly don’t feel like a guinea pig.

      Perhaps don’t comment on something you haven’t got first hand experience with or talked to people actually suffering with poor domestic coverage and using Starlink. Your comment is very “let them eat cake”…

    5. aon56843 says:

      Grumpy boi, there’s lots of rich kids who can afford this, I’m guessing not you though.

      The download speeds are supposed to improve within 6-12 months.

    6. Mike says:

      @Doriyo

      Tried all 4 major networks?
      Tried an external antenna mounted high up?

    7. Doriyo says:

      @Mike

      Yes, all four networks with a very large mast, different antennas and various routers and other bits and bobs. Still get a poor signal with single digit speeds (usually 1-4 megabits if I’m lucky) when it’s good and even less during peak times (packet loss isn’t great either). ADSL is 4 megabits, but is not reliable in bad weather. There are no WISPs or anything like that in the area. No neighbours with better access to share a connection with. No one is interested in running anything better (and even if they would entertain it the price was astronomical and USO is no help) and CDS is a miserable failure around here (Airband is currently promised for the area, but it didn’t go well with Gigaclear and I see no reason it will go any better this time if I’m honest).

      You may then be tempted to write me off as being in the sticks and too far to service (although I would argue anyone with power should be able to get fibre). I can see a major motorway and train line from my upstairs windows (the 4G is focussed in that direction I’m sure hence why I get such poor signal and speeds) and, worse, the fibre which goes to my exchange literally runs outside my house! There are also major backbone fibres down there for things like Janet (the academic network). I know because I’ve spoken to the engineers when they’ve been around doing maintenance or other work and you can clearly see huge bundles of fibre. Just none for us.

      Take my word for it, I’ve tried everything and sunk a lot of money in to various schemes with no luck. Starlink is the only thing that has actually delivered me from the digital dark ages!

    8. Vinnomc says:

      @doriyo What sort of speeds are you getting from Starlink?

    9. Ravax says:

      Starlink is a breath of fresh air after being forsaken by traditional ISPs for many years (in quite a spectacular fashion actually when it comes to ADSL/VDSL; a long and shocking story of appalling incompetence from all companies involved, which we have no time for here)

      Even at these speeds it would be triple what I can get out of my poor quality and incorrectly-laid copper lines (which *should* have been capable of nearly the full ~76MBps you get with most VDSL services, but again, it’s a long story).

      4G in my area is lucky to hit 20MBps. True FTTP services are nowhere to be seen even after begging the likes of Gigaclear for years to come to the area.

      I would happily sign up for Starlink and give the traditional ISPs the middle finger. Even factoring in the cost of the dish and higher monthly prices, in terms of price-to-performance it smashes all possible alternatives. Never mind when they eventually unlock the higher speeds once more satellites go up!

  2. Silus says:

    I’m actually considering this since Andover doesn’t appear on Openreach’s current published list up to 2026 and Virgin isn’t interested in cabling our road. I’d happily pay starlinks prices for the extra speed.

    1. Lou says:

      Me too.

      I’m less than 6 miles from Southampton but best I can get is 27/5.

      No 5G. 4g tops out at 15.

      Fttp is 5 years at least.

      I’m close to ordering this.

    2. Doriyo says:

      @Lou

      If you get 27/5 now and it’s reliable I would say don’t go with Starlink. If you’re still thinking about it do more research and go in to it eyes open. Don’t just go by the headline figures. I’m happy with it, but if you’re expecting perfect it’s not there yet. For me it’s at “more than good enough”, but my bar is probably much lower than yours given what I’ve had to put up with from terrestrial service over the years!

  3. NE555 says:

    “However, it is unfair to compare a specific new technology with a broad market average (this will be dragged down by legacy connections)”

    Arguably it can be more easily dragged *up* by small numbers of ultrafast connections. e.g.

    Average of 20 20 20 20 1 = 16.2 (not much difference)
    Average of 20 20 20 20 900 = 196 (huge difference)

    A median might be better, but it still also reflects consumer choices: for many people 30M is good enough for what they use it for, so they don’t want to pay more for a faster connection, even if it’s available to them.

  4. Kkwi says:

    The Starlink network presently is incredibly lightly loaded, so I really would take these figures with a shovel of salt. I would hazard a guess that they have perhaps several hundred, or at most low four figure sub volumes in the UK currently. Yes, they have planned for many more satellites, but the increase in satellites is not likely to grow proportional to the subscribers numbers I bet, ergo network loading will increase.

    Latter satellites will be in lower orbital shells, thus with lower free space loss then all other factors being equal they would have high effective capacity, but that cuts both ways in that you will have fewer satellites visible at any one time for these lower shells. Also some of the new satellites will be in polar orbits rather than inclined, so again will contribute less effective system capacity for the UK than the current gen with its inclination, again all factors being equal.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Starlink is pretty amazing. But they are still at the start of a pretty huge scaling curve to pull this off.

  5. Razzie says:

    Mark, I think you need to quote the power usage of a typical Starlink setup. I believe they use rather a lot of power.

    1. James Finnie says:

      Do you really think this will be a factor for anyone for whom single digit megabit speeds are a fact of life?

  6. Digital Mike says:

    It’s funny how some people really don’t understand what’s it’s like to have poor connectivity and just assume 4G is everywhere.

    We live about 2 miles from a major town. Funnily enough the nearest mobile masts are about 2 miles away. We also live in a slight dip surrounded by trees. 4G from all the operators is rubbish. But we can see the sky. FTTC is not bad at 10Mb but its not good enough for a family. Starlink is great compared to that.

    We even considered a leased line but at £400 per month still a tad expensive.

    What it must be like for those living in deep rural…..

    1. Cheesemp says:

      Yes that comment annoys me too. I’m about 2 miles from a city (Southampton) in a small twon but because I live in the shadow of a hill I’m lucky get 8mbps 4G from 2 providers (EE/3). Thankfully I get 35mbps FTTC, which was what starlink quoted me a minimum speed, so given the £600 start up costs I didn’t bother. I can see why other would though.

      People need to understand that connectivity is still a complete lottery in the UK. You could have FTTP in a hamlet of 4 properties in the middle of the new forest (And ok 4g), but live in the middle of a city and get poor 4g and ADSL.

    2. Paul M says:

      I live just 8 meters from an OpenReach FTTP splice chamber. But am on the wrong side of the road. Impossible to talk to anyone at BT about getting access. Instead, I’d need FTTPod and they’d run fibre along the route of my phone line to a different cabinet, costing £9500 for the install.

  7. Stoneage Braoadband says:

    Living in a deeply rural location, Starlink is the only viable option for me.

    It may sound expensive compared to FTTC/FTTP packages, but I gladly pay these prices as the only alternatives are FTTC at 1 Mb/s or 4G at 5 Mb/s from an outdoor LDAP with an internal booster.

    As I mostly WFH and spend many a happy hour on Teams calls, Starlink is an absolute godsend and necessity.

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