Cloudflare observed a very strong increase in Internet traffic through Starlink, SpaceX’s Internet access service, for the year 2022.
Claimed 100,000 customers in August 2021 and now more than a million, according to a progress update provided in December 2022. According to SpaceX, its satellite internet service — Starlink — is progressing well. The operator is now present in many countries: North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and various other territories, particularly in South America.
Starlink’s internet traffic is 15 times higher in December than in January
This tenfold increase in the number of customers has an obvious repercussion: Internet traffic passing through Starlink has greatly increased in recent months. In fact, it even exploded in 2022, according to observations from the American company Cloudflare, which markets solutions for websites and online platforms. In December, Starlink’s traffic increased 15 times compared to January.
“Starlink is not yet available worldwide, but traffic is growing. In Ukraine, Starlink provided backup internet connectivity during the Russian invasion. Traffic spiked in Romania after the service launched there in May, and in the United States“, traffic grew steadily throughout the year. It is possible to observe the situation country by country by choosing one on Cloudflare.
In the case of France, Starlink traffic was considered non-existent at the start of 2022, according to Cloudflare’s radars. It was from February that the curve began to rise, with a significant take-off with the arrival of March. Since then, traffic has generally continued to increase, despite a noticeable drop around April (which occurred at the time of the mess concerning the frequency allocation procedure, resolved at the beginning of June).
To analyze Starlink’s traffic, Cloudflare analyzed traffic volumes related to the autonomous system AS14593, which is precisely related to SpaceX. The Internet is, it should be remembered, made up of a multitude of disparate networks capable of communicating with each other using common protocols. The results were then normalized on a graph ranging from 0 (no traffic detected) to 1 (maximum traffic measured).
Speeds between 20 and 100 Mbit/s
Starlink explains in its information pages that the speeds provided by its service vary from 20 to 100 Mbit/s for the general public (peaks of 250 Mbit/s can be offered as part of specific, more expensive formulas). Regarding latency, it is promised between 25 and 50 milliseconds. The lower this value, the better. These values are given as an indication. In reality, throughputs and latency can be affected by a variety of factors.
In addition to the significant increase in the number of customers worldwide, which largely explains this increase in Internet traffic passing through Starlink, there are two other factors to consider. The particular case of Ukraine, which relies heavily on the operator to stay online, but also the expansion of services (access in planes, in boats, in caravans), makes it possible to use Starlink in new situations.