Broadband

How fast is Starlink in the UK? How much does it cost?

Starlink launch
Go faster: Starlink's speeds are impressive

If you’re one of the unfortunate folk who isn’t able to receive fibre broadband, you might well have considered Starlink. Elon Musk’s company beams broadband from Low Earth orbit satellites, providing a fast broadband option for people stuck on slow ADSL. But just how fast is Starlink in the UK? And how much will it cost? We have the answers.

How fast is Starlink?

Satellite broadband doesn’t have the greatest reputation, largely because previous efforts have been relatively slow and expensive. Starlink is certainly starting to change some of those perceptions.

Measurements conducted by Ookla, the company behind Speedtest.net, show that the median Starlink download speed in Q3 of 2021 was a very impressive 112Mbits/sec – up from 108Mbits/sec in the previous quarter. That’s more than double the average internet speed in the UK and almost identical to the average speed consumers receive on Virgin Media’s cable network in the UK.

Upload speeds have traditionally been very poor with satellite broadband, but again Starlink is starting to smash that reputation too. The average upload speed measured by Ookla in Q3 2021 was 16Mbits/sec. That’s comparable to fibre broadband lines, where the upload speed tends to hover around 20Mbits/sec.

What about Starlink’s latency?

Latency has traditionally been a massive problem on satellite broadband, with the delay in beaming packets of data back and forth from satellites making applications such as online gaming and videoconferencing patchy.

However, Starlink’s satellites are much closer to Earth than previous satellite broadband initiatives, so latency is also being eroded. Ookla measured the average latency on Starlink in the UK at 37ms. That still compares poorly to the average of 15ms for fixed-line connections, but 37ms is just about good enough to avoid jitter in online gaming and videoconferencing.

Ookla’s tests confirm results we’ve seen from other broadband measurement companies, such as SamKnows, which previously reported superb performance from Starlink.

How much does Starlink cost?

Yeah, here comes the bad news. Shoving satellites into space isn’t a cheap business and that’s reflected in Starlink’s prices.

If you order a Starlink kit today, you’re looking at the following costs:

Hardware £439

Shipping & handling £56

Monthly fee £89

That means your first-year costs are £1,563. That amount would buy you gigabit fibre broadband and a television package from a rival such as Virgin Media.

However, remember that Starlink largely pitches its services at people not currently served by fibre broadband and cable companies. If Starlink is the alternative to a crummy ADSL line running at less than 10Mbits/sec, for instance, you might decide that’s a price worth paying.

Note that Starlink suggested the price of the hardware could be cut in half in the near future, so it might be worth holding out a little longer before you commit.

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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