With his now-famous constellation of Starlink satellites, Elon Musk is already successfully positioning himself against certain industry giants. Gradually approaching the performance of terrestrial broadband connections, Starlink has become the best satellite Internet provider in the United States.
Competitors look gray
In April 2021, the Starlink project achieved another victory. The Federal Communications Commission has given SpaceX permission to operate 2,814 of its satellites in lower-than-expected orbits. Amazon and OneWeb, who are also developing their constellation, pointed to possible harmful frequency interference and increased risk of collisions between satellites.
Above all, Starlink would already overshadow current satellite internet providers such as HughesNet and Viasat. In an article dated August 5, 2021, ZDnet spent a Speedtest.net study analyzing the performance of different providers. Gold, Starlink far outperforms its competitors while terrestrial broadband provision is cautiously approaching.
Speedtest.net has mainly looked at the performance of various services available in the United States. In this country, Starlink is therefore the closest approach to the traditional broadband offer, as witnessed by a Download speed of 97.23 Mbps in the second quarter of 2021, very close to the median download speed of fixed broadband providers (115.22 Mbps). At the same time, HughesNet and Viasat performance were 19.73 Mbps and 18.13 Mbps, respectively.
Starlink’s median upload speed (13.89 Mbps) is also quite close to that of fixed broadband (17.18 Mbps). Again, the other two providers are way behind. We also have to mention the latency time, of which the difference between fixed broadband internet and satellite internet is obvious. Still, Starlink with its 45 ms approaching 14ms fixed broadband while Viasat displays 630ms and Hughesnet 724ms! But how is this? performance gap between Starlink and its direct competitors?
The reason simply lies in the level of technology used. The constellation Starlink is located at an altitude between 550 and 1200 km and geosynchronous satellites from Hughesnet and Viasat, about 35,000 km away. With fewer satellites further from Earth, these providers cover larger areas, but at the cost of signal latency increases dramatically. Starlink is therefore the best satellite internet provider in the United States and could become so in many other countries.