Is Internet access by satellite a victim of its own success?

In its latest quarterly study, Ookla concludes that Starlink speeds have declined over the past few months. A decline attributed by the firm to the increase in recruitment of subscribers.

Ookla explains that in all the countries that the firm monitors (including France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand) the median download speed is down from one year to the next. (2nd quarter 2022 2nd quarter 2021).

Why does Starlink’s throughput seem to be dropping for a year?

© Ookla /

This finding is all the more striking given that Ookla compares Starlink’s performance to that of more traditional internet service providers – who, on the contrary, saw their median download speeds increase during the period.

In France, for example, we went from a median downlink speed of 140 Mbps in the 2nd quarter of 2021 to a speed of nearly 110 Mbps in the second quarter of 2022. For comparison, the median downlink speed of French operators has gone from around 75 Mbps to almost 110 Mbps over the same period.

Note however that Starlink remains on these median figures above the average of other traditional French ISPs. This is probably due to the flow divide that continues to exist between certain parts of the territory. However, the Very High Speed ​​plan continues to draw fiber, including in sparsely populated areas.

It is therefore likely that we are witnessing an inversion of the curves. Even if Starlink is always able to regain the upper hand: the firm continues to deploy its constellation of satellites and improve their technology. To date, Starlink has just exceeded 400,000 users worldwide in May.

But the speed concerns could increase – due to Starlink’s success with the general public, but also to strategic decisions that could soon materialize. We know, for example, that Starlink is in discussion with T-Mobile to allow the operator’s customers to connect to Starlink from their smartphone.

Apple is also said to have held similar talks with Starlink officials – presumably to offer connectivity to the service in future iPhones. Beyond that, Starlink aims to deliver faster Internet access in planes, and in other moving vehicles such as boats, motorhomes and Teslas.

With the development of these markets, there is no doubt that the pressure on the service will increase – no doubt eventually forcing SpaceX to significantly strengthen its constellation of satellites.

The article is in French

Tags: Internet access satellite victim success

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