Musk: Starlink to Hit 300 Mbps and Expand to “Most of the Earth” This Year

Enlarge / A stack of 60 Starlink satellites launched in 2019.

Starlink’s broadband speeds will double to 300 Mbps “by the end of this year,” said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. wrote on Twitter yesterday. SpaceX has been telling users to expect speeds of 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps since beta began a few months ago.

Musk also wrote that “latency will drop to ~ 20ms by the end of this year”. This is no surprise, as SpaceX promised a latency of 20 ms to 40 ms during beta and had said months ago that “we expect to reach 16 ms to 19 ms by summer 2021.”

It appears that the speed and latency improvements will be implemented around the same time as when Starlink switches from beta to more widespread availability. Two weeks ago, Starlink opened pre-orders for the service that is expected to be available in the second half of 2021, albeit with limited availability in each region.

Global coverage, but low density

Musk wrote in another tweet yesterday that Starlink will be available for “most of the Earth” by the end of 2021 and for the entire planet next year. But even then, the number of spaces available to users would be limited in each geographic region.

Musk wrote that “densifying coverage” is the next step after Starlink is technically available across the globe. “It is important to note that cell phones will always have the upper hand in dense urban areas. Satellites are best for areas of low to medium population density,” he wrote.

That’s consistent with Musk’s statement last year that Starlink will have limited availability in big cities like Los Angeles “because the bandwidth per cell is just not high enough” and that “Starlink will serve the most difficult-to-serve customers. that telecommunications companies would have trouble doing with landlines or even … cell phone towers. ” In the US, Internet users who currently must rely on DSL or traditional geostationary satellite service would benefit the most from Starlink’s low earth orbit satellites.

SpaceX tentatively received $ 885.51 million in funding from the Federal Communications Commission over 10 years to bring Starlink to 642,925 homes and businesses in 35 states. Rival ISPs have been trying to block funding, claiming that SpaceX will not be able to deliver the 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload speeds required by the FCC program.

SpaceX told the FCC that it has more than 10,000 users in the US and abroad so far and that it is already delivering the required speeds and “95 percent throughput of round-trip latency measurements of the network in 31 milliseconds or less. ” In another FCC filing, SpaceX said that Starlink will eventually reach download speeds of 10 Gbps.

Starlink was recently available in the UK.

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