Starlink beta testers are impressed with the Internet speeds on the new service

nanoguy

Posts: 610   +8
Staff member
Forward-looking: It's still early days to make a definitive judgment on how well Starlink works, but beta testers seem positively impressed with the new satellite internet service so far. For people living in remote areas around the world, this might be what they've been waiting for, provided the company can make it more affordable.

Last month, SpaceX sent out invites to several people who expressed their interest in signing up for Starlink, its nascent satellite internet service. The company said at the time that more than 700,000 people were willing to give it a shot, so it launched the "Better Than Nothing Beta" program for people in Canada and the US.

The biggest question on people's minds has been whether the new service lives up to expectations. Elon Musk promised earlier this year that the installation process was very straightforward and that connection quality would be good enough for competitive gaming, but now the first beta testers are chiming in with their own experiences.

According to some early speed tests done in different locations around the US, users are getting anywhere from 100 to 203 Mbps on downlink and around 15 to 33 Mbps on uplink. Meanwhile, the latency varies between 20 to 45 milliseconds, which is pretty much in line with SpaceX estimates. Upload speeds are still lower than the expected 50 to 150 Mbps, and one user in Idaho reported that connection drops every 2 to 3 minutes in games and video calls are common.

One possible explanation for this could be that Starlink's constellation currently has around 800 satellites, which is a low number compared to the target of 12,000 that SpaceX wants to build.

The bigger problem, however, is the upfront cost of the Starlink terminal, which is $499 as of writing -- likely below its actual production cost. Musk says that's one of the biggest hurdles in making the service more affordable for the millions of users around the world who could need it.

Still, some beta testers were pleased with the overall experience. Reddit user Wondering-coder notes that "everything is of an extreme build quality, and this works significantly better than I had ever imagined. It feels like it's from the future. Given a top-tier cell phone costs in the $1,000 range, I am completely amazed I have my hands on a setup like this for ~$500, so I am biased positively towards this service. The antenna itself seems like it should be many thousands of $$$, so I just want to share how fortunate I feel to have access to this."

The beta tester further adds that installing the service is plug-and-play, as the Starlink terminal has a motor system to self-orient for optimal signal reception. As long as the view is not obstructed by trees or other objects and has a wide view of the sky, it should work as advertised. You can find a gallery of pictures from his unboxing here.

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TheBigT42

Posts: 474   +374
"...around 15 to 33 Mbps on uplink"
"Upload speeds are still lower than the expected 50 to 150 Mbps"

Still faster than the uplink on my Spectrum cable modem (10-12 Mbps). In fact up and down are both faster that my Spectrum Cable Modem.
 

Godel

Posts: 246   +144
I just hope these speeds are maintained when the number of customers goes up.

I do recognize that this service is primarily aimed at those outside city areas, and what ever the final figures they're likely to be a big improvement in cost and performance on what those consumers have now.
 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,581   +6,089
The big issue for using is mobile will be how quickly you'll have to re-aim the dish. If it had a signal chaser like some of the upper priced units it could be trained to automatically reorient itself. I've seen a couple of home built units but they all seem to have the problem of switching from one to another if the signal is equal strength. I've heard there are plans out there to build your own, but I wonder if Musk will allow a person to use the home built and avoid that up front $500 charge?
 
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Porkous

Posts: 112   +29
With this, you can literally move on top of a mountain and work from home at miles above the sea level
 

Paultimate

Posts: 18   +8
ITS NOT ABOUT THE SPEED. They can give you 1GBPs down if they wanted

It. Is. About.
1. Latency
2. Worldwide coverage
3. Reliability through redundancy

That is why this is a revolution and nothing like we have seen for 30 years. Pretending this is just another ISP is crazy. This is literally going to change hundreds of millions of peoples lives in a hugely positive way.
0. For people doing extremely high volume ultra latency sensitive trading overseas, it means your latency is now potentially 30%+ better than what you had access to before. The value here for this small but wealthy group is incalculable (not that I like it)
1. For the average person with already good internet, its simply going to give them ultra low latency (the latency youre seeing in tests is not the final number, that will be reduced dramatically when the sat are lowered to their final altitude).
2. For people that travel in RV etc it means your internet goes with you.
3. For people in rural areas it means you are now have a real option for actual normal super good internet.
4. For the hundreds of millions that do not have their own internet and have to share it or do without it, it means you have now entered the information age.
 
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ross01

Posts: 43   +19
ITS NOT ABOUT THE SPEED. They can give you 1GBPs down if they wanted

It. Is. About.
1. Latency
2. Worldwide coverage
3. Reliability through redundancy

That is why this is a revolution and nothing like we have seen for 30 years. Pretending this is just another ISP is crazy. This is literally going to change hundreds of millions of peoples lives in a hugely positive way.
0. For people doing extremely high volume ultra latency sensitive trading overseas, it means your latency is now potentially 30%+ better than what you had access to before. The value here for this small but wealthy group is incalculable (not that I like it)
1. For the average person with already good internet, its simply going to give them ultra low latency (the latency youre seeing in tests is not the final number, that will be reduced dramatically when the sat are lowered to their final altitude).
2. For people that travel in RV etc it means your internet goes with you.
3. For people in rural areas it means you are now have a real option for actual normal super good internet.
4. For the hundreds of millions that do not have their own internet and have to share it or do without it, it means you have now entered the information age.
I'm a trader and for point 0, I disagree High frequency trading(hft) uses faster then 20 latency and It won't really affect the stock market at all, IMO. these hft's and market movers are setup next to stock markets so you will never be able to beat them. the system is setup so the elites will always be the fastest in trading hft. having 20 latency won't change anything for the average trader.
 

Endymio

Posts: 989   +830
I'm a trader and for point 0, I disagree High frequency trading(hft) uses faster then 20 latency and It won't really affect the stock market at all, IMO. these hft's and market movers are setup next to stock markets so you will never be able to beat them.
Err, no. The primary low-latency HFT strategy is to exploit arbitrage differentials between differing markets. No matter how hard a trader tries, he can't place his computer simultaneously at two different points.

By using Starlink, an HFT firm can communicate with both markets at full lightspeed and beat out traders using slower fiberoptic cables. Here in North America, traders are circumventing fiber via microwave towers, but that doesn't work for European markets, of course.
 
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Paultimate

Posts: 18   +8
You are getting it. This isnt just another isp. This is a big deal for human communications as a whole and people are just starting to understand.

Just wait till we have them around Mars. Might be getting ahead of myself but this is an exciting time.
 

Gmachine

Posts: 20   +32
yes, I looked into this because I wanted to use it on my boat. They said it will work on moving boats and cars.
This is perfect then, if it works even when not stationery (access the network on moving car/vehicle) then it truly is a big break through for all people on road trips and out in the sticks. It will allow kids to be entertained while on the road.
 
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Paultimate

Posts: 18   +8
This is perfect then, if it works even when not stationery (access the network on moving car/vehicle) then it truly is a big break through for all people on road trips and out in the sticks. It will allow kids to be entertained while on the road.
Yes, kids can have internet on the road. And while hiking (if your wifi is strong enough) etc ect. These satellites are moving so naturally they will cover moving targets, its all relative at that point.
I think that is just a nice effect of the actual goal; all of humanity having access to human communication. A lot of people are treating this as a 'huh, well I guess that can have a use case', when its much more revolutionary and life changing than that to a huge portion of our entire species.
 
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ross01

Posts: 43   +19
Err, no. The primary low-latency HFT strategy is to exploit arbitrage differentials between differing markets. No matter how hard a trader tries, he can't place his computer simultaneously at two different points.

By using Starlink, an HFT firm can communicate with both markets at full lightspeed and beat out traders using slower fiberoptic cables. Here in North America, traders are circumventing fiber via microwave towers, but that doesn't work for European markets, of course.
I think you were meant to reply to paultimate ? because everything you are saying is agreeing with me. yeah, hft and market movers have been in the Microseconds for 20 years now you can't beat them.
 

Endymio

Posts: 989   +830
I think you were meant to reply to paultimate ? because everything you are saying is agreeing with me. yeah, hft and market movers have been in the Microseconds for 20 years now you can't beat them.
No, I meant to reply to you. With all due respect, you're missing the point. No trader on the planet has microsecond pings to two widely separated exchanges. If both exchanges were in the US, a trader could opt for an enormously expensive series of microwave towers, which still was only 30% faster than fiber. But if one exchange was in Europe or Asia, there was no such option. Now there is.