Starlink Speeds Dipped Slightly During Q3 2022 as the Space Race Heats up
Ookla® has exciting, fresh data from Q3 2022 for SpaceX’s Starlink, HughesNet, and Viasat in North and South America, as well as new Starlink markets we haven’t yet featured in our ongoing series on satellite internet. With accelerating competition on the horizon for 2023, we’ve been eager to see how Starlink continues to perform, especially as building new fiber connections continues to be costly around the world.
This analysis includes results from five additional countries, two new providers, and expanded data for Starlink, HughesNet, and Viasat. We also examine how Starlink’s internet performance has changed over the past year in Canada, Chile, and the United States.
Starlink performance dipped once again during Q3 2022 (though only slightly)
Perhaps a victim of their own success, Starlink download speeds dropped once again in Canada (at least 14%) and the U.S. (at least 17%) from Q2 to Q3 2022, while speeds remained roughly the same in Chile quarter over quarter. During the same period, fixed broadband performance raced ahead, improving at least 8% to 115.18 Mbps in Canada, at least 4% to 207.04 Mbps in Chile, and at least 8% to 164.13 Mbps in the U.S.
Over the past year, as we’ve seen more users flock to sign up for Starlink (reaching 400,000 users worldwide during Q2 2022), speeds have started to decrease. Without a doubt, Starlink often can be a life-changing service for consumers where connectivity is inadequate or nonexistent. Even as speeds slow, they still provide more than enough connectivity to do almost everything consumers normally need to do, including streaming 4K video and video messaging. The biggest thing you might have issues with is if you’re trying to play multiplayer online games — even being a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite, latency still lags far behind low-latency fixed broadband connections.
Starlink upload speeds remained roughly unchanged in all three countries we surveyed during Q3 2022, improving marginally in Canada and Chile, and essentially staying the same in the U.S.
Starlink remains a boon for rural U.S. consumers who can afford it
Over the past year, Starlink has proliferated across the U.S., going from having at least 10 unique users in 776 U.S. counties, or roughly 25% of all counties during Q2-Q3 2021 to 2,399 counties in Q2-Q3 2022, or roughly 75% of counties. That marks about a 200% increase year over year, indicating consumer confidence in the provider.
Looking at only “nonmetro” counties as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 336 counties showed at least 10 Starlink users in Q2-Q3 2021. That was about 17% of all nonmetro counties. In Q2-Q3 2022, that rose to 1359 counties, or about 69% of nonmetro counties, marking about a 300% increase year over year.
Starlink in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands had the fastest satellite internet in North America
Speedtest Intelligence® reveals that Starlink in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands had the fastest median download speed among satellite providers in North America at 85.88 Mbps and 85.57 Mbps during Q3 2022. Starlink in the Dominican Republic (72.01 Mbps), Canada (65.80 Mbps), Mexico (64.30 Mbps), and the U.S. (53.00 Mbps) followed. Starlink had faster median download speeds than all fixed broadband providers combined in all of these countries except Canada and the U.S., and Viasat outperformed fixed broadband in the Dominican Republic (22.92 Mbps).
Viasat and HughesNet recorded their fastest median download speeds in Puerto Rico at 36.65 Mbps and 22.19 Mbps, respectively. Almost every satellite provider on our list reached speeds fast enough to stream high-quality video at around 20 Mbps, though latency still was much higher than fixed broadband internet.
For upload speeds, Starlink outperformed fixed broadband providers combined in the Dominican Republic (14.68 Mbps to 5.83 Mbps) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (12.59 Mbps to 8.37 Mbps). Fixed broadband providers in Canada had the fastest upload on our list at 29.29 Mbps.
Multi-server latency showed satellite internet’s limits, with the huge distances between satellite and receivers adding up to long lags — and every satellite provider with higher latencies than fixed broadband providers. However, the Dominican Republic and U.S. Virgin Islands still had higher fixed broadband multi-server latencies at 55.45 ms and 76.15 ms, respectively. Starlink in the U.S. had the lowest multi-server latency at 67.16 ms, followed by Canada (77.32 ms), and Mexico (96.42 ms), which were the only satellite options that had a multi-server latency under 100 ms.
Starlink in Brazil was the fastest satellite provider in South America
Brazilian satellite consumers weren’t lacking for fast internet options during Q3 2022, with Starlink blazing ahead among satellite providers in South America at 112.97 Mbps. Even Viasat notched a respectable median download speed of 45.15 Mbps. Starlink in Brazil was also the only satellite provider to outperform its country’s fixed broadband speeds, with ultrafast fixed broadband in Chile pulling ahead of Starlink 207.04 Mbps to 92.58 Mbps. Colombia was statistically too close to call in Q3 2022 with Starlink at 71.42 Mbps and fixed broadband at 83.76 Mbps. HughesNet trailed far behind with its fastest speed in Chile at 22.62 Mbps during Q3 2022.
For upload speeds, fixed broadband providers in every country we surveyed were faster than their satellite counterparts during Q3 2022. Starlink in Colombia had the fastest upload speed among satellite providers at 24.48 Mbps.
Speedtest Intelligence reveals multi-server latency told a similar story, with every country’s fixed broadband providers having a lower multi-server latency than their satellite counterparts. However, Starlink in Brazil and Chile had the lowest satellite multi-server latencies at 52.21 ms and 52.32 ms, respectively, during Q3 2022. Viasat and HughesNet lowest latencies were far behind with Viasat in Brazil at 670.63 ms and HughesNet in Chile at 713.04 ms.
New Q3 2022 Starlink countries have mixed results
Speedtest Intelligence data shows Starlink data in six new countries during Q3 2022, including Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Moldova, Norway, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Starlink in Estonia (93.48 Mbps), the U.S. Virgin Islands (85.57 Mbps), and the Dominican Republic (72.01 Mbps) were much faster options than fixed broadband providers in their respective countries during Q3 2022. Starlink in Norway (113.86 Mbps) and Colombia (71.42 Mbps) were statistically in the same range as fixed broadband providers in their respective countries during the same time period. Starlink in Moldova (53.11 Mbps) was much slower than all fixed broadband providers combined (105.65 Mbps), though for rural folks with fewer options, still provides a speedy connection.
In all six countries, Starlink underperformed all fixed broadband providers combined for upload speed during Q3 2022, lagging behind from 12.59 Mbps to 24.48 Mbps, while median fixed broadband upload speeds ranged from 30.66 Mbps to 93.80 Mbps.
Multi-server latency was generally much higher than fixed broadband, with Starlink in Colombia showing the lowest multi-server latency at 58.65 ms, followed by Norway (73.00 ms), Estonia (85.37 ms), Moldova (105.26 ms), the Dominican Republic (110.62 ms), and the U.S. Virgin Islands (113.12 ms).
The great space race is on
There is no doubt a new space race for connectivity is being waged across the world. Competitors are pouring hundreds of millions and even billions into unlocking the celestial connectivity dilemma. Here are some major updates about what’s next for various different satellite competitors:
- Viasat is launching new, faster arrays in the form of Viasat-3 arrays later this year.
- HughesNet is set to launch new JUPITER 3 satellites next year.
- Eutelsat’s proposed merger with OneWeb, which seems to be making progress forward, has the potential to disrupt satellite connectivity and give consumers more internet options across the globe.
- Starlink is entering into the RV and private jet markets.
- The European Commission is still looking into creating their own LEO network.
- Amazon’s Project Kuiper is advancing and opening a new satellite factory, though its launch is delayed from Q4 2022 to early 2023.
With the competition for satellite connectivity heating up and Starlink facing potentially more competition in the coming months, we’ll be keeping our eyes to the sky to see how connectivity is performing. We’ll continue our series next quarter with Q3-Q4 2022 data from Europe and Oceania and any new countries where Starlink launches, and be back with North and South America data in Q2 2023. In the meantime, be sure to download the Speedtest app for Windows and Mac computers or for iOS or Android for devices and see how your satellite internet stacks up to our findings.
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