Musk’s Starlink outperforms fixed broadband in France, Germany, UK
Elon Musk’s Starlink broadband satellite project is giving faster speeds than fixed broadband from local telcos, according to research from Ookla.
The company – which also runs the Speedtest.net service around the world – said that “Starlink [is] nearly twice as fast as fixed broadband average” in the UK, where the company will soon be competing with OneWeb, in which the UK government has a stake.
Troublingly for the UK government, which has a US$500 million stake in OneWeb, Starlink is already in operation. As Capacity reveals today, BT, OneWeb’s wholesale partner, won’t even start testing terminals until the New Year and no date has been set for a launch to the public.
Ookla says that the median download speed in the UK in the third quarter – July-September – was 111.66Mbps, up from 108.30Mbps in the previous quarter. The median speed for fixed broadband was 53.16Mbps, says Ookla: an increase by almost the same 3Mbps margin in the same period.
Starlink’s upload speed “was comparable to the median for all fixed broadband in the UK (16.02Mbps versus 15.77Mbps)”, says Ookla. Latency was 37ms, more than twice the 37ms figure for fixed broadband – understandable as low Earth orbit satellite signals have to travel an extra few hundred kilometres. Starlink satellites orbit at 500km above the surface; OneWeb satellites at 1,200km, meaning even longer latency.
Intriguingly, Starlink download speeds are also up in Germany, but down in France. “Starlink users in France saw a median download speed of 102.15Mbps in Q3 2021 (down from 139.39 Mbps in Q2 2021, likely due to increased usage),” says Ookla’s head of content, Isla McKetta. But “Starlink’s median download speed in Germany of 95.40Mbps was much faster than the country median [for Starlink] of 60.99Mbps during Q3 2021”, she adds.
In France “Starlink’s download speed easily beat the country-wide median for fixed broadband of 75.47Mbps”.
Satellite capacity will be a challenge for LEO satellites: each of them can deliver 17Gbps, though Starlink will have thousands more than OneWeb’s planned 648, due to be all in service by February 2022. Each OneWeb satellite will deliver about 7.5Gbps.