Starlink improvements

I’ve been running the TIG stack monitoring my Starlink connection for about 3 months now. I made a couple of posts to Reddit recently about the results of that. Bottom line: both latency and packet loss have improved significantly. Latency to dropped from 44ms to 37ms average around July 15. And in the last month or so packet loss dropped from 2.1% to 0.6%.

Here’s a copy of the two reddit posts.

Latency improvement around July 15: 44ms to 37ms.

Noticed something interesting in my automated monitoring; my latency has improved. I’m measuring with pings to every few seconds using Telegraf. The average has been about 44ms for a long time, dropped to about 42ms starting July 9, and starting July 15 dropped to 37ms.

It’s hard to accurately measure performance with a connection as variable as Starlink, but I have enough consistent data I think this is a real trend. Graph is here:

I don’t know where latency improved. The changes in the graph don’t seem correlated to firmware updates. There’s no obvious change in bandwidth, although measuring that accurately is really hard. The latency improvement could well be in the terrestrial links between Starlink ground stations and Google DNS; that’s not very interesting. Or maybe it’s in the satellite network itself. No way of really figuring it out from here I think. But FWIW I’ll append a current MTR.

 Host                   Loss%   Snt   Last   Avg  Best  Wrst StDev 
 1.        0.0%   189    0.5   0.4   0.2   0.6   0.1 
 2.       0.0%   188   35.9  31.1  21.2  55.4   6.6 
 3.      0.5%   188   33.2  30.8  19.5 141.2  10.5 
 4.      0.0%   188   33.5  30.3  19.8  50.4   6.2 
 5.       0.0%   188   34.5  31.4  21.5  59.8   7.7 
 6.              0.0%   188   35.1  30.6  19.2  56.8   7.4

Packet loss improvement: 2.1% to 0.6% over three months

My packet loss has improved over the last three months: from about 2% to 0.6% by my measurement. Don’t get hung up on the absolute number but I think the improvement trend is real. See below for more numbers and the graph here:

Nothing significant has changed at my site. What I’m seeing is consistent with what Starlink has been telling us: reliability should be improving as they fill out the constellation. My antenna is mounted on a roof in Grass Valley, CA with some minor tree obstructions. I’ve been hoping with more satellites that Starlink could work around the obstructions; there was a promise a few months ago of a firmware update to do that.

Anecdotally I’ve been using Starlink exclusively on my desktop computer for about 8 weeks now. It used to be annoying about 10 times a day to have to wait for 5-10 seconds for the network to respond again. Now it feels like 2 times a day. But that’s just perception, the numbers in my report say more.

Unfortunately I’m having a hard time getting a great graph of the trend but it should be visible in the graph linked above. I’m also seeing a similar trend in Dishy’s own reported drop rate. Here’s the average packet loss percentage from my pings along with Dishy’s average drop rate over 7 day periods starting at various times:

  • Week starting 5/1: 2.1% / 0.024
  • Week starting 6/1: 2.0% / 0.027
  • Week starting 7/1: 1.0% / 0.008
  • Week starting 7/13: 0.6% / 0.006

FWIW the same ping tests with my old fixed wireless WISP was about 1% packet loss. But those were just one-off lost packets. Starlink’s multi-second outages have been annoying. They’re getting better!

Appendix: my ping data comes from Telegraf’s ping plugin. I’ve got it configured to send 5 pings at a time, every second. As always, when measuring with ICMP ping all sorts of other things could explain changes in behavior. But in this case the ping data confirms my general perception and also Dishy’s own reported drop rate.

Obstruction improvement: 0.7% to 0.07% in the last month

The recent info email update got me looking closely at my obstruction reporting stats. Historically I’ve had about an 0.74% obstruction rate thanks to a few trees. In the last 7 days it’s been 0.070%, or 1/10th the rate. You can see the graph of Percent Obstructed here: A second related graph is Seconds Obstructed:

Note these are Dishy’s own reported numbers, similar to the graph you get in the app. This trend is entirely consistent with my own monitoring with pings. I think in the last month the planed “Connecting to the Best Satellite” has finally come to full usage.

(One in a series; I’ve recently posted other posts here on packet loss and latency improvements. I’d like to do one more post measuring lengths of outages, those 10 second failures we used to get. I think that’s also improved significantly but they haven’t gone away entirely.)

A false bandwidth result

I noticed the following graph (that is false) of Speedtest by Ookla results showing bandwidth decreased around August 1.

I wrote a whole long ass exploration of why my Starlink bandwidth might have decreased. It’s all wrong! Turns out somehow Speedify got re-enabled on my server August 1, I don’t know how. And Speedify’s VPN servers typically cap out about 120 Mbps for me. That’s it, that’s why my bandwidth went down.

Unfortunately this invalidates all my network monitoring data from August 1 to August 6. Doesn’t invalidate any of the data posted above, that was all in July before this change. But I will need to remember going forward to ignore all the weird changes I started seeing August 1.

I’ve removed Speedify entirely from the Linux box.