Elon Musk’s satellite internet, victim of its own success?

Starlink has 400,000 subscribers worldwide. But a study shows that the median throughput tends to drop as the number of subscriptions increases.

Network speed measurement company Ookla conducted a study of Starlink, SpaceX’s internet service provider. Its latest quarterly report shows that its speeds are slowing around the world as the service grows in popularity.

In countries cited by the study, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand, download speeds fell between the 2nd quarter of 2021 and the 2nd quarter of 2022. The drops range from 9 % to 54%, depending on the country.

To explain this phenomenon, you have to look at Starlink’s performance: the service gives way a little under the pressure of a user base that grows over time. A number of users also reported surprise price drops in August, which may partly explain the surge in subscribers.

Large-scale future

In France, the median download speed was 140 Mbps last year compared to 110 Mbps in the second quarter of 2022. Which remains an excellent figure by satellite Internet standards. On the operator side, the speed increased from 75 Mbps to almost 110 Mbps over the same period.

It should also be noted that Starlink is deploying its activity on a large scale. The satellite network is in discussion with the American T-mobile. Network users would be able to use SpaceX’s satellites to send messages to areas without cellular connectivity.

Another project, more uncertain this time, Elon Musk could become an Apple supplier. For her new iPhonethe apple brand launches an emergency service which will be connected to a satellite. Elon Musk naturally proposes to combine the services of his constellation of satellites star link for the operation of this new application.

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