Starlink: Latency Improvements on SpaceX Broadband Network

Starlink from Elon Musk’s Space X mega constellation of ultrafast broadband satellites in Low Earth Orbit have revealed the progress they’ve made so far in improving the latency performance. 

Their goal is to deliver a service with a stable 20 millisecond median latency and minimal packet loss. 

Starlink LEO Satellites

At the moment, Starlink have a network of 5,289 LEO satellites. They orbit the Earth at an altitude of around 500km. 

SpaceX Starlink has approval to expand this number to approximately 7,500 satellites by the end of 2027. 

What is the Cost of Starlink Satellite Broadband? 

For UK customers, costs start at £75 per month. There is an additional cost for the £449 regular home kit which includes a standard dish, router and relevant kit. There is also a shipping fee of £20 on the Standard package. 

By the end of last year, Starlink had a global network of 2.3 million customers (now at 2.6m). 42,000 of those customers were based in the UK (which is up from 13,000 in 2022). Most of these UK customers are based in rural areas. 

Starlink Broadband Speed

The Standard Starlink broadband package promises download speeds of between 25 and 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 5-10 Mbps. It also offers latency times of 25-50 ms. 

What About Latency?

Satellites in a Low Earth Orbit constellation are significantly closer to earth than GEO or GSO platforms. GEO satellites usually sit about 35,000 km away, whereas the LEO satellites, like Starlink, are only 500 km away. 

This means that the signal for Starlink satellites only has to travel a relatively short distance, which is good when it comes to latency. 

What is Latency? 

Network latency is the amount of time it takes for a data packet to go from one place to another e.g. from your laptop or other device to a remote server and then back again.

The delay or time between the data packet going to the server and then back again is measured in milliseconds (1 second is equal to 1000 milliseconds). 

Broadband connections these days will usually have an average latency of between 4 ms to 40 ms.

What can affect latency? 

Latency can depend on many different factors for your individual connection, but in general terms, the faster score for latency (the shortest time) is always best. 

These latency times can be affected, amongst others, by:

  • The performance of remote internet servers
  • The connection technology being used
  • ISP network congestion
  • Routing problems
  • Network setup

Lowering latency is an important part of building a good user experience. Faster latency means:

  • Fast-paced online multiplayer games are smoother
  • Internet actions are more responsive
  • Video calls experience less sync problems
  • And much more!

What are Starlink’s Latency Improvements?

The Starlink satellite broadband network from Space X is slowly delivering improvements in terms of latency. 

The latest update from Starlink claims that users around the world will have meaningfully reduced median and worst case latency. 

Customers in the USA can benefit from a 30% reduction in median latency, going from 48.5ms to 333ms during peak times. 

Worst case latency at peak times has also been reduced from 150ms to 65ms which is a 60% improvement. 

And it’s not just the United States that are enjoying lower latency. Outside the USA, the median latency has been reduced by up to 25% and worst-case latencies have been reduced by up to 35%. 

The stats are below if you want to take a look.

How do they measure Starlink latency?

Starlink’s latency is measured by operator who collect anonymous measurements from millions of Starlink routers every 15 seconds. 

The median and worst-case latencies are calculated using these 15 second average latencies. 

They look at latency across different time periods but focus on performance at peak times.  This tends to be 6-9pm local time to the router, which is when the Starlink network is under the most load and the biggest number of people are connected. 

Starlink’s Latency in 2024

Between January and March this year, monitoring and metrics have been added across the Starlink network in order to measure the latency on every subsystem down to the microsecond. 

Their algorithms are programmed to prefer lower latency pathways, even if the difference is only small, to mitigate and remove as many sources of unnecessary latency as possible, 

Software changes, additional ground infrastructure and the launch of more satellites are all being prioritised in order to continue to improve latency over the coming weeks and months, 

Will BT EE Boost UK Mobile and Broadband Services with Starlink? 

It has been reported that National telecoms giant BT (EE) has been in talks regarding plans to harness SpaceX’s ultrafast low-latency broadband via their Starlink LEO (low earth orbit) satellite constellation. This could help improve internet as well as mobile connectivity to those in more remote, rural areas.  

Have BT Used Satellite Technology Before?

This isn’t the first time BT has helped deliver digital connectivity by channelling satellite technology. One example is the SaT5G (Satellite and Terrestrial /Network for 5G) project, supporting the development of solutions for integrating a standard commercially available 5G core network into a live satellite network.

BT is also running trials for rural broadband and mobile connectivity in the UK with OneWeb (rivals of Starlink) backed by the government. 

Recent reports revealed that BT is testing the Starlink system at its Adastral Park research centre near Ipswich. This is just one of the ways they are attempting to solve the continuing issue of getting reliable internet to those in hard to reach locations in the most rural, remote parts of the UK. Of course, consumers can already just sign up to Starlink’s satellite broadband service.

What is Starlink?

Here is some basic information if you’re new to everything Starlink satellite broadband. 

Starlink LEO Satellites

At the moment, Starlink have a network of 5,289 LEO satellites. They orbit the Earth at an altitude of around 500km. 

SpaceX Starlink has approval to expand this number to approximately 7,500 satellites by the end of 2027. 

Cost of Starlink Satellite Broadband

For UK customers costs start at £75 per month. There is an additional cost for the £449 regular home kit which includes a standard dish, router and relevant kit. There is also a shipping fee of £20 on the Standard package. 

Starlink Broadband Speed

The Standard Starlink broadband package promises download speeds of between 25 and 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 5-10 Mbps. It also offers latency times of 25-50 ms. 

Starlink’s New Direct to Cell Mobile Roaming Service

On top of that, Starlink is also in the process of launching its new global Direct to Cell mobile roaming service for use with regular unmodified Smartphones, which would require support from both a mobile network and Ofcom in order to launch in the UK. EE would clearly be a good fit for something like this, given the BT Group’s wider experience in the field. We wrote all about this last week, you can read it here

How Many Customers Do Starlink Have in the UK?

1.83% of Starlink’s current customers are based in the UK. Starlink has 2.3 million customers worldwide, with 42,000 of them residing in the UK. This is up from 13,000 UK based customers last year. 

Will BT EE Utilise Starlink Satellite Broadband for Business Customers?

The report that came out last weekend suggests that the current talks going on between BT EE and Starlink are looking at business broadband solutions and providing mobile connectivity to remote sites such as oil rigs out at sea.

It doesn’t look like BT are interested in just reselling Starlink’s broadband product, but instead are looking at it as a viable way to complement their own terrestrial connectivity services. 

When Will Satellite Connectivity Support Broadband and Mobile Services?

As things currently stand, we don’t know when we see satellite connectivity become fully fledged products that can be a viable solution to supporting broadband and mobile connectivity in rural and remote areas. 

The satellite solutions mentioned in this article are currently still in the early Proof of Concept trial stages. Having said that, although there is no guarantee that BT will use Starlink satellite broadband to bolster their broadband and mobile customers in more rural / remote areas, particularly businesses, it’s certainly exciting to know that discussions are taking place that this could be a possible solution in the future. 

Hire Starlink Satellite Broadband with Geekabit

We’ll be keeping a close eye on how this situation develops. 

As a company committed to helping businesses stay connected with reliable broadband – Using traditional methods as well as mobile and satellite options –  we are excited at the prospect of Starlink satellite broadband going further to help businesses in rural areas. 

If you are interested in Satellite broadband as an internet service provider option for your business or event, then get in touch with our Wi-Fi Experts today. We have Starlink satellite broadband kit ready to hire! Contact us here.  

First 6 LEO Broadband Satellites for Mobile Service Launched by Starlink

The first week of January saw SpaceX launch their first 6 satellites to support their new ‘Direct to Cell’ product. This brings them steps closer to Starlink’s constellation of ultrafast broadband LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellites being able to offer a global 4G mobile service.

A Quick Starlink 101

Here is some basic information if you’re new to everything Starlink satellite broadband. 

Starlink LEO Satellites

At the moment, Starlink have a network of 5,289 LEO satellites. They orbit the Earth at an altitude of around 500km. 

SpaceX Starlink has approval to expand this number to approximately 7,500 satellites by the end of 2027. 

Cost of Starlink Satellite Broadband

For UK customers costs start at £75 per month. There is an additional cost for the £449 regular home kit which includes a standard dish, router and relevant kit. There is also a shipping fee of £20 on the Standard package. 

Starlink Broadband Speed

The Standard Starlink broadband package promises download speeds of between 25 and 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 5-10 Mbps. It also offers latency times of 25-50 ms. 

What’s New for SpaceX Starlink Satellite Broadband?

SpaceX Starlink signed agreements back in 2022 enabling them to launch a global space-based 4G mobile network. 

The network will be called Direct to Cell and will connect satellites to unmodified smartphones on the ground. 

How will the Starlink 4G Network work?

The satellites with the capability to connect from space to Smartphones on the ground will have an advanced eNodeB modem onboard. This allows network integration similar to a standard roaming partner, essentially acting like a cellphone tower in space.

Supported by mobile operator T-Mobile, originally the first beta test products were supposed to launch by the end of 2023 in select areas of the USA (for example Hawaii, parts of Alaska, Puerto Rico). With the launch of the first 6 at the beginning of January this year, things are obviously running a little behind. 

These first 6 Direct to Cell capable Starlinks were launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket alongside a batch of 15 other Starlink birds.

The testing phase is expected to eventually involve 840 4G capable satellites, transmitting 4G mobile to roughly 2,000 unmodified Smartphones on the ground. 

According to SpaceX, they plan to launch a basic text service sometime this year, offering SMS, MMS and ‘participating messaging apps’ messaging. 

Voice services (ie. the ability to make calls) and data services (being able to use a slow mobile broadband connection) is due to follow sometime next year (2025). 2025 will also hopefully see the ability to connect to Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Will we be able to use Starlink 4G mobile in the UK?

Unfortunately at this stage, Starlink doesn’t have supporting access agreements for these services with any cellular providers in the UK. We are one of a few countries with cellular providers yet to support Starlink 4G mobile. 

Hopefully we will know soon who it’s likely to be! Both Vodafone and EE (BT) have experience with satellite solutions (they are testing rival systems!) so they may be the ones to watch. 

Who Are Starlink’s Current Global Direct to Cell Partners?

Providers who are ready to support Starlink 4G mobile in some countries are:


T-Mobile (USA)
Optus (Australia)
Rogers (Canada)
One NZ (New Zealand)
KDDI (Japan)
Salt (Switzerland)
ENTEL (CHILE)
Entel (PERU)

Can Starlink 4G Mobile Compete With Our Current 4G Mobile Broadband Offering?

At this stage, not really. Elon Musk has himself said that these first Direct to CEll capable Starlink satellites can only support data speeds of  “~7Mb per beam and the beams are very big, so while this is a great solution for locations with no cellular connectivity, it is not meaningfully competitive with existing terrestrial cellular networks.”

In other words, Starlink 4G Mobile services will be beneficial to those in rural areas that struggle with more traditional forms of broadband connectivity and 4G cellular networks, but not to those already reliably using 4G networks. 

For those that want the tech bit – Information shared last year on the subject detailed that the Direct to Cell system will be able to provide “theoretical peak speeds of up to either” 3Mbps or 7.2Mbps peak upload (Earth-to-Space) over 1.4MHz or 5MHz bandwidth channels per beam, respectively, and up to either 4.4Mbps or 18.3Mbps on the downlink (Space-to-Earth) over the same bandwidth channels per beam using LTE (4G) technology.

It’s also worth remembering that we don’t yet know the costs of this type of global roaming. To compete with traditional roaming services, it’s going to need to be a competitive cost. Although, those who struggle to get any connection at all where they’re based may be willing to pay a bit more if it means getting a reliable connection. 

What Potential Issues Might Starlink 4G Mobile Be Facing? 

SpaceX are already facing some challenges in the USA. There are concerns about spectrum interference, particularly from AT&T (formerly known as the American Telephone and Telegram Company) who are also in the testing stages of a rival solution AST SpaceMobile and Omnispace who are also combining mobile roaming with the scope of satellite for a global 5G network. 

There are likely to be similar disputes in other markets too, seeing as the Starlink 4G network needs reciprocal access and spectrum agreements with mobile operators. They will also need support from regulators and ground stations across the world. 

Starlink 4G Mobile via satellites from SpaceX is certainly an intriguing development and we’re keen to see how this plays out throughout 2023 and beyond. Let’s watch this space! 

UK Starlink Broadband Speeds Rise

Global leader in network intelligence, Ookla, also well known for their free web service on network performance analysis Speedtest.net, have published their latest data for the last quarter of 2022. 

Their latest study reports on the internet download, upload and latency performance for UK customers (as well as other countries) using SpaceX’s Starlink Low Earth Orbit (LEO) ultrafast satellite broadband. 

The report found that the Starlink satellite broadband speeds are on the rise. 

What is Starlink?

You can read more about Starlink on one of our previous blogs here

Starlink satellite broadband is made up of a constellation of approximately 3680 low earth orbit satellites. By next year they plan to have 4425, and then 7500 by the end of 2027. 

Here in the UK, a customer of Starlink can expect to pay a £460 fee for the regular home kit (standard dish, router) plus £40 shipping and then £75 per month for the ‘standard’ plan. On the standard plan you can expect unlimited usage, fast latency times (25-50ms), downloads of between 50 and 200Mbps and uploads of between 5 and 15Mbps. 

As the network continues to grow, it’s possible that the speeds will change. 

Remember though – Speeds can differ out in the real world and aren’t always the same as the performance advertised by the ISP. 

Starlink Speeds

Back in the second quarter of 2022, the report showed that Starlink’s average download speeds had fallen between then and the year before in the UK and other countries including France, Germany and USA. Here in the UK speeds had dropped by 19%. 

Thankfully, the data from the last quarter of 2022 shows that speeds are starting to rise again. 

But speed isn’t the only thing to look for. A good user experience is also about consistently lowering latency, and Starlink seems to have lowered the latency from an average of 36-39ms to 53ms. Remember with latency, the lower figures are faster!

What Were Starlink’s UK Broadband Speeds Over the Last Year? 

Below are the download, upload and latency speeds for each quarter between 2021 and 2022. You can see that latency was about the same figure for about a year, before improving over the last quarter of 2022. 

You can also see how upload and download speeds were increasing quarter on quarter Q2 2022 where they both dropped. The latest figures for Q4 2023 appear to show the upload and download speeds starting to improve once again. 

This could be the increase in the number of LEO satellites being launched. As the network gets bigger and more LEO satellites are orbiting earth, we could see Starlink satellite broadband speeds continue to increase as well as improved latency.

Q4 2022

Download 96.79Mbps

Upload 12.40Mbps

Latency 53ms

Q2 2022

Download 85.07Mbps

Upload 10.72Mbps

Latency 39ms

Q4 2021

Download 121.94Mbps

Upload 13.96Mbps

Latency 36ms 

Q3 2021

Download 111.66Mbps

Upload 16.02Mbps

Latency 37ms

Q2 2021

Download 108.30Mbps

Upload 15.64Mbps

Latency 37ms

Starlink Satellite Broadband for Rural Areas

We’ve written before about how transformative satellite broadband can be for more rural areas – Both homes and businesses. 

These clients are likely to struggle with the standard fixed line broadband options, and even some mobile (4G/5G) services. For people who live and work in rural areas, the speeds above that Starlink satellite broadband can offer are going to be gladly received compared to the other much slower options. 

Get in Touch

If you are interested in how Starlink satellite broadband could help your home or business, please get in touch with our Wi-Fi experts today. We work out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff offering Wi-Fi solutions to transform your connection. 

SpaceX Starlink to Provide Next-Generation Wi-Fi to Carnival Cruises

If you are a part of the cruising community then you might have seen via Carnival Corporation that they have signed a new agreement with Starlink – The satellite technology leader.

Even if you’re not a part of the cruising community, you will likely have heard of Carnival Corporation. They are one of the world’s largest leisure travel companies, boasting a portfolio of world-class cruise lines.

This provision of next-generation Wi-Fi on Carnival cruise ships is all set to transform connectivity for both guests and crew, bringing the ships faster internet and greater capacity. 

This new and improved Wi-Fi connectivity will start aboard the Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises brands. 

Carnival is the world’s largest cruise company, so it makes sense that they are committed to providing their guests with fast internet. Their ongoing strategy is to provide their guests with the best Wi-Fi experience at sea by tripling bandwidth fleet-wide since 2019. 

Last week, the latest move in this connectivity strategy was signing an agreement with SpaceX’s Starlink to provide next-generation internet connectivity across its global fleet. 

Starlink utilises LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellite technology, providing faster service, greater capacity and more reliable Wi-Fi on a global scale. 

Rollout of Starlink connectivity on board cruise ships has begun

December last year saw the beginning of the Starlink rollout across their Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruise fleet of ships. 

They have plans to extend Starlink connectivity to more of their world-class cruise brands such as Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises (Australia and UK), Cunard, Holland America Line, Costa Cruises and Seabourn. 

Until recently, at-sea experiences of Wi-Fi aboard cruise ships were not very comparable to on-land connectivity. By signing with Starlink, Carnival are greatly improving their on-board connectivity for guests (and crew) by offering the best available Wi-Fi experience – Rivalling even on-land connectivity. 

In an age where the majority of people expect to be able to connect whilst on holiday, this is big news. How can guests share their holiday snaps with friends and family back home if they’ve got patchy Wi-Fi? 

Guests may also find that they would like to stream movies back in their cabin via Netflix or watch specific sports matches live – Buffering is not an option. 

Starlink to provide cruise guests and crew with home-level connectivity whilst at sea

CEO of Carnival Corporation, Josh Weinstein says:

“For many of our guests, it has become more and more important to maintain the type of connectivity at sea that they’ve become accustomed to at home, and of course to share the unforgettable experiences of their cruise with friends and family.

“We are in the business of delivering happiness, and Starlink makes it as easy as possible for our guests to share all their great moments and memories, giving them even more joy out of their cruise vacation.”

Not only does this new-generation Wi-Fi bring more joy to guests, but it will also enable Carnival brands to offer new guest services and features – All through added bandwidth.

And it’s not just the guests that will be seeing the benefits of Starlink connectivity on board. The increased bandwidth will also help at an operational level with things like onboard equipment monitoring as well as real-time communications between teams on ship and on the shore. 

Whatsmore, Carnival isn’t just about bringing joy to their guests at sea but their crew too. Guests aren’t the only ones that want to stay in touch with friends and family back home whilst they’re aboard the ship – Their crew members also want to do the same. Starlink’s innovative satellite technology will enable them to do just this. 

Starlink thrilled to bring high-speed broadband to remote waters

Vice President of Sales for SpaceX Starlink, Jonathan Hofeller says:

“High-speed, low-latency broadband internet is critical in our modern age, and we’re excited to provide Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA’s guests an internet experience that makes their travel even more enjoyable.

“In even the most remote waters, guests onboard Carnival Corporation ships will be able to share real-time updates with friends and family.”

Carnival already has a portfolio of world-class communications service and technology providers for their ships – Satellite and otherwise. Starlink are the latest provider to join this growing group of pioneering tech providers. 

Carnival remains the industry leader for their connectivity, fleet wide. Their global presence sees almost 100 ships visit over 700 ports worldwide. It’s little wonder they are innovative in their attitude to connectivity, using a multi-provider approach with a framework strategically designed to optimise their network speeds and route internet traffic aboard their fleet anywhere in the world. 

Our resident Wi-Fi expert and CEO Steve is a bit of an avid cruise goer. He’s excited to check out first hand how Starlink next-generation satellite Wi-Fi will enhance the guest experience aboard these cruise ships. 

To read more about this new-generation Wi-Fi aboard Carnival cruise ships, you can visit their website: www.carnivalcorp.com or  www.carnival.com.

We’re Experts in Starlink Installations

Of course, cruise ships aren’t the only industry that can benefit from Starlink satellite connectivity. There are plenty of places on land that could see an improvement in internet speeds by using Starlink technology. 

As experts in Starlink installation, do get in touch with us here at Geekabit if you think your rural business or outdoor event could benefit from satellite broadband. We’d be more than happy to chat through the options and see if Starlink satellite technology could transform your connectivity.