SpaceX's Starlink service suffers brief but global weekend outage

Out of this world service for Musk's satellite broadband


It appears that even users of Elon Musk's Starlink service are not immune to the odd bit of borkage as the broadband-from-orbit system suffered an outage at the weekend.

Starlink boasts of serving up high-speed, low-latency broadband via its constellation of satellites, claiming download speeds ranging between 100Mb/s and 200Mb/s with network latency as low as 20ms in some locations, according to the company.

Users around the world reported issues on Saturday morning, around 04:20 Eastern (11:00 UTC), with dishes stuck hunting for satellites. Customers in Europe and the US were forced to face the horror of the real world for as long as 20 minutes as their Musk-provided service became unavailable.

There are currently over 2,000 Starlink satellites in low earth orbit with another 47 launched in March. More are planned, but the current total should be sufficient to reach many of the inhabitants of the regions supported by the company. Assuming the service stays up, that is.

While the occasional brief outage as a user's terminal loses connection to a satellite is understandable, the issue that occurred over the weekend appears to have been considerably lengthier and more widespread for some. Affected customers reported messages appearing in the Starlink app to the effect that the team were aware of the problem and were working on it.

Things have not gone entirely to plan for Elon Musk's out-of-this-world internet adventure of late, nor for his customers. The latter were slapped with some impressive price rises earlier this year (blamed on "excessive levels of inflation") while just last week the company's license was pulled in France.

Starlink also admitted in February that higher than expected atmospheric drag due to a geomagnetic storm would mean that dozens of recently launched Starlink satellites would be coming to a premature end mere days after their ascent.

The Register contacted Starlink and parent company SpaceX for comment and will update should a response be received.

Last weekend's outage is not a good look for the company, which presents its internet service as something suitable for video calls and other high-data-rate activities. Perhaps they are, so long as you don't mind your latency occasionally being measured in minutes. ®

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