SpaceX Flies 12th Starlink Mission, Claims High Broadband Speeds & “Super Low” Latency

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — A SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launched the company’s twelfth Starlink mission, deploying 60 Starlink satellites to orbit. The booster launched from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Starlink satellites separated from the second stage 15 minutes after liftoff. The flight brings the number of Internet broadband satellites launched to 713, including two prototypes. Not all the spacecraft are still in orbit.

Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported launch of the GPS III Space Vehicle 03 mission in June 2020. Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX tweeted following claim about early tests of the satellite broadband network, which will eventually include nearly 12,000 satellites:

Results from these tests have shown super low latency and download speeds greater than 100 mbps – fast enough to stream multiple HD movies at once and still have bandwidth to spare

A report by Ars Technica said beta testers are getting lower speeds for the partially completed constellation.

Beta users of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite-broadband service are getting download speeds ranging from 11Mbps to 60Mbps, according to tests conducted using Ookla’s speedtest.net tool. Speed tests showed upload speeds ranging from 5Mbps to 18Mbps.

The same tests, conducted over the past two weeks, showed latencies or ping rates ranging from 31ms to 94ms. This isn’t a comprehensive study of Starlink speeds and latency, so it’s not clear whether this is what Internet users should expect once Starlink satellites are fully deployed and the service reaches commercial availability….

While 60Mbps isn’t a gigabit, it’s on par with some of the lower cable speed tiers and is much higher than speeds offered by many DSL services in the rural areas where SpaceX is likely to see plenty of interest. On the Reddit thread, some Internet users said they’d love to get the speeds shown in the Starlink tests as they are currently stuck at 1Mbps or even less. An Ookla report on fixed-broadband speeds in December 2018 found average download speeds in the US of 96.25Mbps and average uploads of 32.88Mbps. SpaceX is planning for up to 5 million home-Internet subscribers in the US.

It’s not just subscribers that Elon Musk’s company is hoping to gain with high-speed broadband service. SpaceX is one of 505 companies competing for U.S. government subsidies under Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).

RDOF is set to distribute $16 billion over 10 years to systems that can deliver rapid broadband services to under served areas of the country. The funding will be awarded for several speed tiers up to a gigabit.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to begin the bidding for subsidies on Oct. 22.