Satellite broadband could just be the next big thing in India. SpaceX Starlink satellite broadband will be available on our shores from sometime next year, and if you’ve been undecided about whether to reserve your connection for $99 (around Rs 7,300), there is a development which should help you make up your mind. Ookla, the company behind the popular Speedtest app, has data which suggests that Starlink satellite broadband speeds are getting very close to and in some countries even surpassing wired broadband speed averages. And is already significantly faster with download speeds compared with global satellite internet rivals, HughesNet and Viasat. More satellites now in the sky and optimizations to networks in progress, all signs point to a robust Starlink service rollout in India sometime in 2022, which should worry the home broadband players too.
The Ookla data for Starlink broadband speeds comes at a time when the company has crossed 90,000 subscribers globally, with 20,000 added in the month of July. In the US, the Speedtest Intelligence numbers indicate that Starlink satellite broadband delivers an average of 97.23Mbps download speeds and 13.89Mbps upload speeds. The wired broadband average speeds in the US are around 115.22Mbps for download and 17.18Mbps for uploads. HughesNet logs an average download speed of 19.73Mbps while ViaSat has download speeds around the 18.13Mbps mark. In other countries, Starlink is faring even better, if not already as good. This bodes well for the company’s promise of up to 300Mbps speeds for all users soon, which should be before the satellite broadband service is available in India. At this time, home broadband companies including Airtel and Reliance Jio offer plans between 30Mbps and 1Gbps speeds, across multiple price points.
In Canada, Starlink is actually delivering 86.92Mbps download speeds, which are faster than 84.24Mbps speeds for fixed broadband. In upload speeds, fixed broadband at 17.76Mbps is just ahead of Starlink’s 13.63Mbps. In France as well, Starlink with 139.39Mbps download speeds and 23.98Mbps upload speeds is far ahead of 58.17Mbps and 18.16Mbps of fixed broadband. In the UK, fixed broadband clocks in at 50.14Mbps and 14.76Mbps speeds respectively, which Starlink trumps with 108.30Mbps an 15.64Mbps speeds. The experiential difference would be because of the higher latency rates that satellite broadband still delivers—the lower the better, and Starlink has often said their networks are capable of delivering significantly lower latency compared with other satellite internet networks, something we should see further improvement on in the coming months.
It was at the end of June when the Elon Musk owned Starlink has confirmed plans to have global satellite coverage completed within the next five weeks, a deadline which is close to completion sometime this month. The satellite internet company has also said that they will start upgrading all users to speeds as high as 300Mbps, a rollout expected to be completed next year and reduce the latency to as low as up to 25ms. At this time, Starlink users get between 50Mbps and 150Mbps speeds with latency upwards of 20ms. Earlier this year, Starlink rolled out pre-reservation invites in India for those who may be interested in signing up, and the service is expected to roll out sometime in 2022. The Starlink deposit terms for this $99 that you pay today suggest that this is for the purchase of the Starlink equipment that you’ll need to access the satellite broadband service.