US Starlink Data Points to Larger Addressable Base for LEO Broadband ISPs

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The telecommunications industry continues to watch SpaceX Starlink’s expansion and performance closely, as the number of subscribers to its broadband service grows and other satellite providers enter the fray. While median download performance remains a key benchmark, we see strong demand to understand how Starlink is balancing net new additions with its network capacity as the service scales, and how LEO Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) performance stacks up against the competition, particularly in rural locations. Key takeaways include:

  • Starlink isn’t shooting for the stars, but is successfully managing to balance capacity and demand. Starlink median download performance in the U.S. was 64.54 Mbps in Q3 2023, a marginal decline quarter on quarter, though Starlink did show strong increases in September, October and November.
  • Starlink’s US LEO broadband performance eclipses that of geostationary orbit (GEO) satellite internet providers. Starlink offers a significant boost on GEO satellite broadband speeds, but its multi-server latency is where Starlink really shines.
  • Starlink’s performance in rural US locations orbits at a similar level to the competition. While it can’t match leading cable or fiber providers on median speeds or multi-server latency, Starlink offers a very viable alternative in locations where cable and fiber access networks aren’t present. 
  • The constellation of Speedtest Starlink samples highlights significant urban LEO broadband demand. While still skewing towards rural locations if we adjust for population, almost 60% of Speedtest Starlink samples were recorded in urban locations in the US. 

U.S. Starlink Data Points to Larger Addressable Base for LEO Broadband ISPs