StarLink started with very good internet when they were in Beta and then transitioned to Official service.In the beginning StarLink speeds were good and fast but you are now noticing that your StarLink is becoming slower and less reliable lately. It also has more outages.
Why is My Starlink Showing Degraded Service?
1. There’s too much congestion
As of May 2023, SpaceX Starlink recorded over 3,600 new users per day and a total of 1.5 million users. Starlink was oversubscribed from the beginning and too many people use it even now.
StarLink has said in its user documents that actual speeds tend to be lower at peak hours and does not guarantee stated speeds or uninterrupted use of services. StarLink does temporarily reduce speeds if the network is congested.
It also does not have enough satellites and ground stations which work backward and forward collaboratively to meet the internet connection demands of the numerous users on the platform.
They have limited infrastructure to meet consumer demand.
Fix -SpaceX is trying to resolve the infrastructure and capacity issues. This problem can only be resolved from the tech company side by adding more ground stations and satellites.
Your StarLink antenna or dishy is part of a Starlink Kit that includes everything you need to connect to the internet including your Starlink dishy, a Wi-Fi router, power supply, a 15.2m (50ft) StarLink cables, a 1.8m (16ft) Alternating Current (AC) cable, and base that looks like an X.
StarLink dishy is installed in a roof or the highest place possible. It needs to see the sky with no barriers or hindrances to about 100° of sky.
If your antenna experiences obstruction from the direction it is facing it, you may have a service drop out.
Fix 1- clip any trees that may be higher than your antenna or in the direction it is facing.
Fix 2- Make sure your antenna is in the highest possible place you can put it. Avoid high buildings, water towers, phone masts or any other tall structures.
3. The position of your Dish has changed
For those in the Northern Hemisphere the dish is supposed to be pointing to the magnetic north and for those in the Southern hemisphere the dish is meant to be pointing to the magnetic south.
The dish does not have a motor that can move around to track the satellite. The motors only work the very first time you install your StarLink dish and it is trying to position itself by finding the magnetic North or South
When you put your antenna into stow mode(allows you move Antenna into default orientation) and then unstow it, your dishy will reacquire the satellites and reposition itself properly. Your satellite stays in the same position unless it reboots or repositions due to a firmware update followed by a reboot.
YourStarLink antenna tracks or locks in satellites by shifting frequencies. The Satellites in LEO are moving on by at about 500km/minute which is almost 300miles/hour or 18000miles/hour The Electronic Phased Array antenna (a cluster of antennas) deciphers and triangulates the closest satellite moving by or the least congested satellite and locks in on that satellite.
If you look at your debugging information at 192.168. 100.1 on your router. Check whether your Boresight Eleveation and Boresight Azimuth has changed. These two indicate the direction and level also look at the PopPing Latency.
Your dish may have moved from magnetic north to West North West and from magnetic south to East South East especially you live near the Pacific coast or Atlantic coast. This might be very bizarre.
Fix – investigating changing direction
1. Try to use a compass and plumb level tool on your phone to verify whether the default position has changed.
You will find that your StarLink antenna is no longer in the same position where you first installed it. Note down the new positions
2. Next, go online to the starlink.sx site. It has map of satellites and ground stations.
It will show your Home POP(Point of Presence), it will also show version1.5 satellites that have built-in lasers to enable satellite to satellite data communications and version 1.0 satellites that have no lasers onboard.
3. Scroll to the top of screen and choose simulation settings using the figures you collected about the new position of your antenna
4. Change the Azimuth settings on the simulation to reflect your current antenna direction and the map will also change to show the area where your antenna is now pointing.
You will see that SpaceX has redirected your Antenna or dishy to face the nearest ocean if you live on the coast near the Pacific or Atlantic oceans.
This is because there is less traffic on the network using the offshore satellites as compared to ground stations and satellites circling above densely populated landlocked areas.
As the change in direction occurs you will experience a degraded service but it will stop once it locks onto a version 1.5 satellite in the middle of the ocean.
Some areas experience degraded service due to areas they are located in as StarLink keeps upgrading their network
Users do experience higher latency if they are in regions far away from ground stations or during periods of high load on their user terminal.
According to StarLink they are continuing to launch satellites, ground stations and improve their network in some areas.
As they do this, internet services tend to go offline or slow down.
When the ground stations and satellites have problems affecting their relay network they also affect the Starlinks service.
StarLink rolled out an update aimed at improving speed, latency and overall performance which reoriented all dishes.
Before the dishes were updated, they were not looking in the optimal direction and that is why there was a degraded service
This firmware update may have caused antennas to reorient to another direction as the dishy spends most of its time talking to satellites in this new direction.
Fix – Wait for SpaceX StarLinks to finish their upgrades
4. Bad weather conditions
Rainstorms, blizzards, especially wet weather can affect StarLink particularly in areas with fewer satellites and ground stations.
Harsh weather can reduce speeds significantly, lead to dropouts, outtages, and damage the dishy.
Fix- Before the bad weather unmount your dish
5. StarLink additional services affect download speeds
Everytime SpaceX StarLink add new service plans other services plans become degraded. They lose the download speeds to accommodate for the new service plans.
For instance, when they had only Standard and Business Class Services in April 2022 latency was 20 to 40 milliseconds, download speed on the Standard was 50 to 250 megabits per second while Business was 150 to 500 megabits per second and the upload on Standard was 10 to 20 megabits per second versus 20 to 40 megabits per second and there was no data cap.
Four months later in July 2022 they added the RV service. All the Standard Business and RV services had same latency, but the download speeds dropped from 150 to 100 megabits per seconds on the lower end and from 500 megabits to 300 megabits per second on the higher end, and in the Standard, the download speed dropped down from 250 megabits to 200 megabits on the higher end.
One month later in August 2022, they added a maritime service plan to the three existing plans. They changed the business upload speeds from 20 to 40 megabits per second to 10 to 40 megabits per second. Maritime had latency of less 99 milliseconds, download speeds of 100 to 350 megabits per seconds and upload speeds of 20 to 40 megabits per second. There was no data cap on all service plans.
Two months later in October 2022 StarLink added a new service called Best Effort which had a latency of 20-40 milliseconds, a download speed of 5 to 100 megabits per second, upload speed of 1-10 megabits per second and no data cap.
They introduced best effort to handle the waitlist of users who wanted their StarLink service and also to cater for those who could afford the Standard and Business service plans. It was a much slower service.
In November to December 2022 StarLink added three new services. These three mobility services Recreation, Commercial and Premium. All had a latency of under 99 milliseconds. This means that SpaceX StarLink was not quite sure whether the user was located near a ground station.
Uploads speeds for Recreational was 2-10 megabits per second, 8- 25 megabits per second and 10-30 megabits per second.
During this time the latency completely changed from 20 to 40 in Business, Standard and Best Effort/RV to 25-50 milliseconds. There was a huge delay. It was now slower.
The Standard Service went from 50 to 200 megabits per second download speeds to 20 to 100 seconds, a 50% drop and the upload speed went down from 10-20 megabits per second down to 5 to 15 megabits per second.
Business service plan also dropped from 100-350 megabits per second download speeds to 40-220 megabits per second and the upload speeds dropped from 10-40 megabits down to 8-25 megabits second. The same happened with the combined Best Effort/RV service plan which had downloads speeds of 5-50 megabits and 2-10 megabits upload speed.
With these new reductions in speed, they also did not list a data cap
When you get StarLink degraded service notice know that it is due to a new service plan sharing the same network as you. As the new services were introduced, the upload and speeds reduced.
Fix- StarLink is the only one who ensure that service plans do not affect plans
To conclude StarLink has caused most of the degraded service due to lack of infrastructure, congestion, constant firmware and technical upgrades, changes in antenna orientation, too many service plans.
The obstruction of the antenna can be fixed by the user and the weather is unavoidable. StarLink clearly has a lot to do to clear the degraded service error.