Starlink has hit more than 1 million users despite a drop in download speeds. Here's what you need to know about the service.
- Starlink, SpaceX's satellite internet service, has reached more than one million users.
- As Starlink's user base has grown, download speeds have got slower, according to analysis.
Elon Musk's SpaceX has built a global internet service with thousands of satellites in space.
Starlink, operated by SpaceX, was launched in October 2020. The company said on Monday the service has more than one million active subscribers worldwide. This was up from 145,000 users at the start of 2022.
What's the hype about Starlink?
SpaceX has an expansive satellite internet network in space called Starlink. The first Starlink satellites were launched on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket in May 2019.
More than 3,000 Starlink satellites envelop the Earth, offering broadband connectivity to users — especially those in rural areas without fixed-line connections. The goal is to have up to 42,000 satellites by mid-2027.
Musk said in September that SpaceX had manufactured more than one million Starlink user terminals, which connect to the company's satellites in orbit. Now, the company has hit another milestone — gaining one million active users.
Starlink speeds have dropped
Although users have skyrocketed, Starlink's download speeds have slowed, according to an analysis by network intelligence company Ookla.
Since the start of this year, Ookla found that Starlink's download speeds in the US fell from around 85 megabits per second in the first quarter to roughly 50 Mbps in the third quarter. This is in comparison with about 110 Mbps in the last quarter of 2021, per Ookla.
Meanwhile, upload speeds in the US remained the same across the year, Ookla added.
When Starlink launched, SpaceX said in an email to Starlink beta test subscribers they should expect download speeds between 50 and 150 Mbps, with intermittent outages. But some users hit much higher speeds. Starlink even reached speeds of 175 Mbps in freezing temperatures, high winds, and snow.
Activating in Ukraine and Iran
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, SpaceX has provided thousands of Starlink dishes to Ukrainians and has helped Ukrainian troops, even as Moscow ramped up efforts to hack the network.
Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's vice-prime minister, asked Musk in February to send Starlink terminals to Ukraine. In response, Musk said Starlink was activated in Ukraine and promised terminals were on the way. By June, SpaceX had delivered 15,000 Starlink internet kits.
Musk tweeted in September that Starlink was being activated in Iran at the same time as network outages hit the country. The disruption with connectivity and social-media apps came amid protests over the death of a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody.
Costs have fluctuated
A Starlink subscription is $110 per month and another $600 for the Starlink kit, comprising a tripod, WiFi router, and terminal.
The service costs more than what it initially charged users in October 2020. Customers previously paid $600 upfront for the kit and monthly subscription. SpaceX told customers in March it was raising prices, with new customers paying $710 upfront. However, prices were cut in late August for users in the US and Europe.
Insider explained how to sign up for the service.
"Starlink is still losing money!" according to a tweet from Musk in response to a Twitter thread that referenced CNN's report about SpaceX asking the Pentagon to foot the bill for the service in Ukraine.
According to documents obtained by CNN, SpaceX said it couldn't afford to pay to keep Starlink running in Ukraine.
Musk tweeted SpaceX was burning around $20 million per month to operate Starlink in Ukraine. Although Musk called the costs "unreasonable," the following day he reversed his refusal and said SpaceX would fund Starlink in Ukraine.
Starlink on planes and cruise ships
Since June when the Federal Communications Commission granted SpaceX authorization to use Starlink on vehicles in motion, Starlink has signed deals with Royal Caribbean, Hawaiian Airlines, and jet service JSX to offer passengers WiFi. The company has also been in talks with Delta and Frontier Airlines.
Musk said antennas wouldn't connect Tesla cars to Starlink because the terminals are "much too big."
"This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs," the billionaire said, adding that he was testing Starlink on his private jet.
Are you a Starlink user? How are you finding it? Get in touch with this reporter via Twitter DM or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- SPC Lifesciences files draft papers with SEBI for IPO
- Sensex rallies 346 pts, Nifty near 17,100 on firm global markets
- Removal of commission caps for insurance agents likely to boost innovation, customer-centricity
- SEBI bans 6 entities from securities market in front running case; impounds ₹2.23 crore
- EazyDiner raises ₹40 crore from DMI Alternative Investment Fund