Elon Musk has just confirmed that the speeds available on SpaceX’s Starlink satellite service will improve dramatically by the end of the year.
Anthony Iemole (@SpaceXFan97) posted a photo of his Startlink receiving dish setup in the snow, along with a speedtest result. This test revealed a download speed of 130Mbps and latency of 131ms. There’s plenty of other Starlink users sharing speed tests, but Musk chose to reply to this one.
In the response, Musk says Starlink’s speed will double to around 300Mbps and reduce latency to a very impressive ~20ms later this year. As an FTTP user, I regularly get ping times of 10-16ms, so 20 is seriously impressive.
Starlink recently became available to order in many parts of the world, including Australia. The order page lists Australian availability as ‘mid to late 2021’.
With the timeline for the speed improvements identified by Musk’s response, its now likely that Starlink speeds deliver those speeds from the start of Australian availability.
Starlink is a satellite internet service, made up of a growing number (eventually thousands) of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), working in combination with ground transceivers.
Musk followed up with more detail on the rollout.
Musk doesn’t mention any change to the current pricing, so we’re expecting the price will remain. As it stands today, it costs A$709.00 for the hardware, $100 for shipping and handling. You then pay A$139 per month and at this time there are no data caps under the Starlink Beta program.
By comparison, the NBN’s Skymuster satellite which is used by rural and remote customers in Australia, are only able to get a maximum of 25Mbps/5Mpbs, a paid upgrade on the standard 12Mbps/1Mbps.
At those speeds, Starlink’s 300Mbps would offer 12 times the speed possible on SkyMuster.
By way of pricing comparisons, Reatil Service Provider Clear, offers SkyMuster plans that start at $39.95 per month for just 85GB of data (15GB peak, 70GB off-peak).
The largest plan available comes with a 305GB download cap (145GB peak, 160GB off-peak) and costs a massive $204.95 per month (more than Starlink, with much slower speeds and download caps. That’s a difficult sell.
As you can see compared to NBN SkyMuster plans, Starlink month costs are far cheaper and speeds many multiple times faster. While Starlink does have a one-off hardware cost, it is a clear winner for those outside the FTTP footprint.
With much of Australia still connected by FTTN, there’s a great chance many of those customers who are hardware limited, are looking at the potential speeds on Starlink and thinking that may be an option worth considering.
While launching satellites into space isn’t cheap, Starlink as an ISP has the potential to capture customers across the globe, meaning the viability and cost models of SkyMuster is potentially in some danger over the long term.