An internet speed test of Starlink satellite-delivered internet to rural Montana.
Could rural Montana be the next Silicon Valley? Check internet speed off your list of reasons why not.
Even though Elon Musk’s SpaceX says its expanded “Better Than Nothing” test is still a beta version of Starlink’s eventual capabilities, at least one early Starlink internet service customer says he is getting better than expected speed. Starlink says it should give you between “50 and 150 MB/s with 20-40 milliseconds of latency.” Starlink customer “FourthEchelon19” is getting 161 megabits/second download and 23 megabits/second upload speed.
In rural Montana.
That’s good enough to stream 4K YouTube videos with zero buffering. And it’s making people with hard-wired “high-speed” internet jealous.
“I love how you’re getting a better speed from f-ing space than I am with a hardline connection from Spectrum at 80 dollars a month,” one respondent says on Reddit.
In fact, according to the speed test by Ookla, that’s faster than 95% of the United States … and Starlink costs just $99/month. That’s a little hard to fathom given that Starlink is bouncing signals to orbit before returning them down to earth. While Starlink satellites are in “low-earth orbit,” that’s still 342 miles or 550 kilometers above the planet’s surface.
Recommended For You
Listen to this story in the TechFirst podcast:
Whether those speeds will stay as high as thousands of others join the service is a good question, but the Starlink satellite constellation is also only partial right now, with something like 800 currently in operation, and thousands yet to come. Confirmed end-user speeds are commonly from 60 megabits/second to well over 100 in an unofficial listing.
The best, however, is 203.74 megabits/second with only 18 milliseconds latency.
There are other questions, of course.
Satellite and Earth Communications
One is latency, or delay between initiation of a signal and full speed or usability. Starlink promises 20-40 milliseconds of latency, and this early beta test confirms it: 34 milliseconds. The tester is also getting tiny but frequent interruptions, which might be due to line-of site challenges, but don’t seem to be impacting perceived quality of service.
Starlink has said that there will be periods where satellites are unavailable this early in the construction of the overall constellation, but they should be brief.
If speeds remain anywhere near where this test shows, that’s good enough speed to run your business or do your tech job from almost literally anywhere. High-speed internet is a must for most in technical jobs that they can do remotely, and many rural locations in the U.S. and Canada have extremely limited speed.
As an example, Restream.io says that to stream videowith good quality you need about 6 megabits/second upload. Starlink is showing almost six times that speed. Plus, of course, much faster download.
And that’s a rural life game-changer.
“This is insufferably exciting for me,” another Reddit user says. “Reliable and uncapped (or high-capped) 100+ mbps will change my life, and ~$100 for such service will change my budget similarly.