SpaceX plans to increase Starlink's download speeds from ~100 Mbps to 10 Gbps in the future

SpaceX plans to increase Starlink's download speeds from ~100 Mbps to 10 Gbps in the future

SpaceX Starlink provides satellite broadband internet service directly to consumers based on location. The Starlink constellation can currently connect users living at high-latitudes in portions of northern United States, Canada, and United Kingdom. As SpaceX deploys more internet-beaming Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit (LEO), the company will offer service to more customers globally. You can sign-up via to receive updates about when service will be available in your country. SpaceX is actively assessing the network’s performance. SpaceX Senior Engineer Kate Tice shared in September that the Starlink satellites in orbit have provided ‘good’ results. –“They show super-low latency and download speeds greater than 100 megabits per second. That means our latency is low enough to play the fastest online video games and our download speeds are fast enough to stream multiple HD movies at once,” Tice said.

Recently, on January 20, SpaceX representative David Goldman held a meeting with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to discuss the company’s plans for the Starlink network. The constellation will be comprised of over 4,400 satellites. The discussion was primarily focused on SpaceX’s request to modify some of satellites' operational altitude. The company is asking the FCC to speed up the approval of a request submitted in April last year, to modify the operational altitude of more satellites to 540-570 kilometers (km). Currently SpaceX only has approval to operate 1,440 in that altitude range. The altitude modification will enable SpaceX to provide rapid, more reliable Starlink service to its customers and reduce the amount of satellites needed for coverage worldwide. FCC found in 2019 "that operating half of SpaceX's system at lower altitudes would allow SpaceX to make efficient use of valuable spectrum resources more safely, quickly, and cost-effectively as it initiates a new generation of broadband services available to customers worldwide, including those in areas previously underserved or even totally unserved by other broadband solutions." Operating satellites in lower altitudes also enables satellites that malfunction to decay into Earth’s atmosphere in less than 2 years, in comparison to satellites orbiting our planet at higher altitudes that have potential to stay in orbit for 200 years. Starlink satellites feature an autonomous collision avoidance system that enables a safer operation in orbit. Goldman provided the FCC representatives with a presentation that was published on the Commission’s website which provides more details, pictured below. 

The presentation images reveal SpaceX ambitiously plans to increase SpaceX’s download speeds from around ~100 megabits per second (Mbps) to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) in the future, with low-latency under 30 milliseconds (ms). SpaceX’s official presentation slide to the FCC is pictured below. The company says it aims to “Focus on quality and availability through path diversity and multiple routing options to every Starlink and Gateway [ground station].” SpaceX also informed the FCC they are introducing “ongoing software upgrades to accelerate throughput.”

All Images Source: SpaceX to FCC 

SpaceX plans to continue manufacturing and launching 120 satellites per month to increase the broadband network’s capabilities. According to the presentation document, SpaceX said it has launched 955 satellites in low Earth orbit across 15 Falcon 9 launches, the most recent launch deployed 10 satellites to Polar Orbit on January 24. Center of Astrophysics Astronomer Jonathan McDowell said last week there are: “1,015 Starlinks launched, 952 still in orbit, 934 more or less working,” and shared his satellite tracking record via Twitter. 



About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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