An Ookla report showed that Elon Musk’s Starlink internet has faster median download speeds than fixed broadband in Canada, presenting an attractive alternative for people living in rural areas.
The Q2 2021 study showed that Starlink boasts impressive speeds for a satellite internet service. In Canada, Starlink achieved a median download speed of 86.92 Mbps during Q2 2021, a smidge over fixed broadband, which scored 84.24 Mbps.
Starlink was never supposed to be the be-all, end-all benchmark in speed. Instead, it aims to beam reliable internet service to anywhere on the planet, regardless of whether it’s in the middle of the Amazon rain forest or a sprawling urban centre. In Canada, Starlink is targeting remote areas where fixed broadband isn’t feasible.
Moreover, its 55 ms latency is a stunner. While it doesn’t beat broadband internet’s 12 ms, it still greatly outperforms the services in rural areas without a wired connection. Satellite internet is often the only option in Canada’s many remote regions. The Ookla report emphasized that Starlink is the only satellite internet service with comparable latency to fixed broadband, a crucial metric for communication and gaming.
Starlink delivered faster median download speeds than broadband in five of the eight provinces measured: Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan. It stayed on par with broadband in Alberta and Ontario, and only lost in British Columbia.
Starlink exclusively uses low-orbit satellites that hover between 550 and 1200 km, far closer to the earth’s surface than common geosynchronous satellites that float at around 35,000 km. In addition to reducing latency, low-earth orbit satellites also reduce space junk as they easily fall back down to earth when they are decommissioned.
To date, Starlink has launched over 1,700 satellites, although some have been decommissioned as planned. The company plans on launching 1,500 satellites in 2021. Eventually, it wants to create a massive constellation of 40,000 satellites to achieve its ubiquitous global coverage vision.
The largely untapped satellite internet market has been slowly heating up in the past few years. Amazon has also announced plans to create its own internet satellite constellation consisting of around 3,200 satellites. The company signed a contract for nine launches with the United Launch Alliance in April 2021, hoping to push Project Kuniper, the codename for its satellite program, into motion in the near future.