The first performance tests of SpaceX’s Starlink are far from what Elon Musk promised for his «Space Internet». But there is room for improvement, as there are quite a few satellites to launch before the commercial launch of the service.
A Reddit user has posted links to 11 anonymous speed tests on SpaceX’s Starlink performed with the speedtest.net tool. The service is being beta tested by a group of testers who are required to sign nondisclosure agreements, so these results may be one of the only samples to see actual performance. Always understanding that the service is in its first steps.
The download speeds obtained range from 11 Mbps to 60 Mbps. Better results were obtained in latency, with ping rates varying from 94 ms to an appreciable 21 ms. Recall that Elon Musk promised to offer users a bandwidth of 1 Gbps and a latency below 20 ms in the presentation of his Space Internet to the Federal Communications Commission.
These results are difficult to assess and it depends on who we compare with. On the one hand, they are far below what was promised and what a modern fiber service offers, but on the other, are much better than typical satellite connections, especially in latencies. Older satellite networks offer very bad latencies, from 600 ms to 2000 ms. We will have to wait for the full implementation before the service reaches commercial availability.
Musk’s project It is the most ambitious and the most advanced in the ‘Space Internet’ race. Broadband Internet services from space, which is a new playing field for the telecommunications industry and several companies have projects underway. Amazon with the space division of Jeff Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, and other companies such as Kepler, Telesat Canada, OneWeb, LeoSat or the Spanish Hispasat.
The Space X project contemplates a mega-constellation of up to 12,000 satellites (Originally, up to 42,000 were planned), although only about 800 would be necessary to be able to offer a “moderate” Internet coverage (in Musk’s words) and about 1,500 for an effective start (limited) that is expected to begin before the end of 2020 .
The Starlink satellites are moving into an orbit of 550 km. They are the size of a shoebox and operate on a mesh network that operates in the spectrum from 40GHz to 75GHz to communicate with each other, while using the Ka / Ku radio frequencies to send the signal to terrestrial receivers.
SpaceX has the advantage over the rest of having its own satellite launch pad and has been launching units at an impressive rate for the past year. Musk promised 1 Gbps to terrestrial users almost anywhere in the world. We will have to wait for the final deployment.