Starlink Speeds Are Down 35% From Last Year As Company Struggles To Meet Demand

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Since launching their satellite internet service in 2021, Starlink has grown to around 700,000 subscribers globally. Another 700,000 customers have pre-ordered, which tells us demand is high, but capacity is limited. Starlink has around 3,000 satellites in orbit, with many thousands more planned in the coming years.

2022 has been a story of growing pains for current Starlink customers, especially in the US. Each time Starlink adds customers in an area, each subscriber gets a little bit less bandwidth. Without a proportional increase in the satellite constellation capacity, this means slower speeds, higher latency, and frustrated customers.

Ookla.com tracks broadband internet speeds in a quarterly report. With their latest 2022 Q2 report, Starlink median download speeds are down 35% from 2021 Q2. In the US, the median download speed for Starlink customers was 62 mbps. If we compare that to Starlink’s best quarter, 2021 Q4, speeds are down 40% from the peak of 105 mbps.

Are expanding service tiers to blame?

Obviously, the incomplete and ever-expanding satellite constellation is the limitation of the system right now. There are simply too many users, and not enough bandwidth to go around. But some point to the addition of new Starlink service tiers as the cause of the speed issues. One Reddit user in the Starlink subreddit writes:

Allowing starlink to be mobile is one of the main causes for congestion in many areas.

u/DHVerveer

Another user sarcastically describes Starlink’s efforts to maintain performance:

That’s really surprising because they have done everything to prevent congestion, including:

  1. Launching Starlink Business
  2. Launching Starlink RV
  3. Launching Best Effort
  4. Allowing service address loophole accounts to convert to Residential
  5. Raising prices
  6. Reducing performance specifications across the board
u/r3dt4rget

Even with the known performance issues, Starlink has continued to expand services, launching the Business service, a mobile RV tier, Maritime tier, Aviation tier, and even a Best Effort service plan. Best Effort allows customers in waitlisted areas to receive a Starlink dish and use it, with reduced speeds compared to regular Residential customers.

Is Starlink prioritizing revenue, or do they believe they can accelerate satellite launches and capacity as quickly as they can expand the subscriber count?

Not all customers are complaining

In some areas, Starlink speeds continue to improve. In Puerto Rico, for example, the median download speed is nearly double what it is in the US. Users in Europe and Australia report speeds higher than 100 mbps as well. Even within the US, some users report consistently higher than average speeds.

It largely depends on the Starlink user density of an area. On the east coast of the US, for example, user density is very high, and speeds are low. In rural areas of Canada, user density is low, so speeds will be higher.

Another common sentiment in Starlink internet communities is that, despite slow speeds, Starlink is sometimes the only broadband internet option available. Many customers are willing to accept the decreasing speeds, simply because it’s better than DSL, mobile hotspots, and other satellite internet service providers.

Predictions for the future of Starlink

Starlink has had to answer not only to angry customers, but also to the FCC. With decreasing performance, Starlink lost out on nearly $1 billion in federal grant money. Are all these signs of a failing service? I don’t think so. Like I mentioned before, these are growing pains. The Starlink satellite launch process is still improving, with the rate of satellite deployments increasing rapidly.

In my opinion, Starlink performance will level out and then begin a trend of steady improvement quarter to quarter. Two factors will contribute to this outcome. First, more satellites will increase capacity. Second, expanding fiber and 5G infrastructure will reduce the demand for Starlink in dense urban and suburban areas. Starlink was originally meant for areas underserved by traditional broadband, but even Starlink didn’t anticipate how widespread that issue is. Even people living in metro areas are sometimes without any internet options except for DSL. When these people leave Starlink for other options as they become available, some of the congestion is relieved.

Conclusion

Starlink speeds may be down year over year, but they continue to do what no other ISP has – provide high speed, low latency broadband internet to rural people around the globe. Starlink is trying to increase their operating revenue by launching new services that target new markets, and this is having a negative affect on network performance for regular users. But these issues are temporary, and I’m sure will pay dividends in the future as Starlink looks to capture more of the satellite internet market.

What has your experience with Starlink been over the last year? Have you seen speeds decrease? Are you happy with the current level of performance?

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Kathi Mansur
Kathi Mansur
15 days ago

I got the starlink equipment early in 2022 after being on waiting list for 2 yrs. I suffered with Viasat slow speed and twice the expense of starlink for years. We live in a very rural area in central NM. I was very satisfied with the fast speed at first as I do data entry and speed is crucial. However as the months wore on the speed became slower and more erratic. The price of 110.00 is great as Viasat charges 300.00 for the same speed, and it used to be the only show in town. So, I hope this slowdown is indeed temporary as we are pleased with the Starlink service in general.

Rick Rezac
Rick Rezac
22 days ago

I’m in s. Mexico and couldn’t be happier. It beats every system available here by a long shot, and we have only 1 ground portal for the whole country. Very seldom does it drop below 200!

Henry Scott Newman
Henry Scott Newman
23 days ago

I am very happy with the service and lack of drops in southern New Mexico. Download is almost always over 100 Mb (half of what we had with cable) upload varies from 6-29 Mb (far better than what we had with cable), I am so happy not to have to deal with Comcast every again.

Jean
Jean
23 days ago

I am super happy with Starlink. Living in a remote area of the Belgian Ardennes, it was impossible otherwise to have good internet. I have barely an outage, speeds between 65 and a whopping 220 Mbs and a ping around 35 m/s. I am sure once more satellites will be deployed most problems will be solved. Anyway, yay for Starlink!

Ken H
Ken H
23 days ago

I have only had Starlink for a few months, but in my area in the forest foothills, the difference is stunningly fabulous over ADSL and previous satellite service. I can’t tell if it is slower, but it is fine. Streaming for about 3 hrs a night, we might get a couple of buffers of less than 5 seconds each, but I don’t have a 100% unobstructed view, so it is less than predicted.

Crystal
Crystal
23 days ago

Our Starlink say pending for over 3 weeks. Does that mean we are on the wait list now?