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Elon Musk’s SpaceX Internet service, Starlink, officially reveals download speeds

September 3, 2020, 2:57 PM UTC

Elon Musk’s SpaceX gave the first indication of just how fast Starlink, its upcoming satellite-based Internet service, will be—and the speeds surprised some analysts.

After launching 60 more satellites on Thursday as part of the Starlink service, SpaceX tweeted that its Internet tests have reached speeds of more than 100 megabits per second. Delays in receiving downloads, or latency, were also “super-low,” SpaceX said.

That’s plenty fast enough to stream Netflix in 4K resolution or download an entire movie in less than 10 minutes. It’s also in the ballpark of the average wired home Internet connection speed of 128 Mbps.

SpaceX hasn’t yet said how much the Starlink service will cost or precisely when it will be available. It has now launched almost 700 satellites of a planned constellation of thousands and said service could begin in parts of North America by the end of the year. The privately held startup raised almost $2 billion of backing last month and is valued at $46 billion.

In addition to SpaceX, several other companies are competing in a 21st-century space race to offer broadband Internet speeds from satellites. Amazon’s Project Kuiper has similar aims but has yet to loft any satellites. SoftBank-backed OneWeb got hundreds of satellites in orbit but went bankrupt earlier this year and was bought by a group led by the British government. Whether any of the services will prove popular or financially viable remains an open question after the last round of satellite Internet services two decades ago all failed.

Thursday’s self-reported test speeds from SpaceX come as the service is also trying to qualify for a subsidized federal Internet program run by the Federal Communications Commission. The agency is doling out $20 billion to Internet service providers who can connect customers in rural and underprivileged areas. SpaceX applied to be included, but the FCC said it would first have to prove its service had a latency under 100 milliseconds.

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