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Starlink speeds are flattening out in the US

Starlink radar app in focus with Starlink logo in background
(Image credit: Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Starlink, Elon Musk's satellite internet company, seems to be hitting a speed plateau, according to data collected by one of the biggest speed test websites on the internet. 

Ookla (opens in new tab), known for running SpeedTest.net, says that Starlink speeds didn't increase during the third quarter of this year. In some areas, speeds began to wane. 

According to Ookla, median speeds between Q2 to Q3 2021 saw a decrease from 97.23 to 87.25 Mbps. Ookla speculates that this could be a symptom of Starlink adding new customers to its satellite network, which may eat away at available bandwidth. 

At the very least, median upload speed largely stayed flat between Q2 to Q3 of 2021, going from 13.89 to 13.54.

Ookla's data did find that Starlink speeds still vary greatly, county by county. In Santa Fe County, New Mexico, the fastest median download speed was 146.58 Mbps whereas the slowest median download speed was in Drummond Township, Michigan at 46.63 Mpbs. 

Although, those with cash to burn might want to consider Starlink Premium, a $500 monthly service that requires a $2,500 dish. At least these users can expect speeds of up to 500 Mbps. 

starlink performance vs fixed broadband

(Image credit: Ookal)

Still, any dips in Starlink's performance should be viewed in context with the overall satellite internet market. Competitors HughesNet and Viasat had median download speeds of 19.30 and 18.75 Mbps respectively. That means Starlink's slowest speed is still more than double HughesNet and Viasat's median. For rural communities, to get speeds that touch 100 Mbps is a great relief. 

Moving away from the U.S., in Australia, a country with middling internet infrastructure, Starlink greatly outperformed fixed internet. Starlink had a median download speed of 138.12 Mbps, far greater than the 51.17 on offer from traditional internet service providers. 

For Starlink customers that are seeing slower speeds, don't worry. SpaceX recently launched (opens in new tab) 52 satellites from its California base. Currently, the low-Earth orbit satellite internet constellation accounts for a little more than 1,600 satellites. While that is a lot, it's still far shy of the 12,000 SpaceX has planned. As more satellites go into orbit, the better the internet should be.

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.