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Starlink performance sees a bump, and so do prices

Still not quite as fast as it was in the halcyon days of 2021

SpaceX's Starlink satellite broadband service has shown a modest peformance jump in some regions from Q3 to Q4 of last year, although speeds are still down from 2021 before the rapid increase in subscriber numbers.

The Starlink service has so far proven popular, with customers reportedly passing the 1 million mark just before the end of 2022, up from just 145,000 at the start of that year.

However, this expanding subscriber base reduced the quality of service and saw median download speeds in some areas falling in the first half of last year, according to network intelligence company Ookla.

Now the latest Ookla report indicates that many countries in Europe and Oceania experienced a sequential rise in average download speeds in Q4 2022.

That said, Ookla said it found that in all the European countries it evaluated, median download speeds were slower for Q4 2022 than Q4 2021. Most countries showed 10-20 percent slower speeds in Q4 2022 than the same period a year earlier.

For the UK, this was at least 19 percent down, while Germany, Portugal, Italy and Austria were down between 13 to 16 percent. In Oceania, Ookla said that Starlink performance results were mixed, with download speeds in Australia 24 percent slower in Q4 2022 than a year earlier, yet four percent higher in New Zealand.

Starlink still managed to outperform terrestrial broadband providers in download speeds across Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the UK, where Starlink was able to top 100Mbps in many cases.

Ookla said that this could be a sign that Starlink seems to be "maturing its constellation's capacity" and with SpaceX now in the process of deploying more next-gen satellites, further improvements in performance may show up in Q1 2023 results.

Reports suggest that for US users at least, Starlink is changing its pricing, with some seeing an increase while others may actually get a price cut.

In an email sent to customers, Starlink said there would be a $10 increase to $120 per month in areas where there is limited capacity, but there would be a $20 decrease to $90 per month in areas where there is excess capacity. The price changes will roll out to existing subscribers from April 24, while new subscribers will be charged the updated prices immediately.

It isn't clear where the regions of limited and excess capacity fall, but Starlink's own map shows waiting lists in large areas of the eastern US and the west coast.

The move comes just a year after Starlink announced earlier price hikes, blaming "excessive levels of inflation."

Earlier this week, the company invited customers to try out a Global Roaming service that will allow them to use their internet connection "almost anywhere on land in the world" for $200 per month.

In December, it was disclosed that the UK government is to test out the Starlink satellite broadband service for providing broadband to homes and businesses in remote or poorly served areas of the country. ®

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