SpaceX has announced that its internet service provider Starlink now has over 1 million active subscribers. It seems CEO Elon Musk’s ongoing Twitter trash fire didn’t stop enough people from signing up to his ISP to hold it back from this milestone.
“Starlink now has more than 1,000,000 active subscribers — thank you to all customers and members of the Starlink team who contributed to this milestone,” wrote SpaceX’s official Twitter account on Monday.
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Though no doubt intended to sound impressive, Starlink’s significant subscriber count may not be great news for its existing customers. According to a September report by Ookla, Starlink’s median download speeds have dropped year-on-year since 2021’s second quarter in every country the internet speed measurement company tracks. (Note: Ookla and Mashable are both owned by the same parent company, Ziff Davis.)
These speed drops ranged from nine to 54 percent, with Ookla noting they may be caused by Starlink’s infrastructure buckling under its growing user base. The service already had over 400,000 users in May, while price drops in August may have entered even more to sign up.
SpaceX also announced in August that it was partnering with T-Mobile to allow customers’ mobile phones to connect directly with Starlink satellites, with beta testing to run in late 2023. This will potentially add even more people to Starlink’s user base.
Starlink may slow down users if they use too much data
The company is likely aware of Starlink’s flagging speeds, and appears to have taken steps to mitigate both use and expectation. In the ISP’s new fair use policy introduced in November, SpaceX states that customers who exceed certain data limits during their monthly billing cycle will now have their internet speed throttled — that is, deliberately slowed down. Users will then have to pay extra to get their speeds back up.
SpaceX plans to begin launching Starlink’s second generation satellites before the end of the year, which may help with the load. It will also no doubt cause even more headaches for astronomerswho are already concerned about the night sky pollution caused by Musk’s many satellites. SpaceX currently has over 3,000 satellites in orbit, with plans to launch a total of 42,000. So far 12,000 have been approved.