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Ajit Pai doubts Elon Musk’s SpaceX broadband-latency claims

Enlarge / SpaceX CEO Elon Musk at the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, DC, on Monday, March 9, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The Federal Communications Commission is not convinced that SpaceX’s Starlink broadband network will be able to deliver the low latencies promised by CEO Elon Musk. As a result, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing limits on SpaceX’s ability to apply for funding from a $16 billion rural-broadband program.

While traditional satellite broadband generally suffers from latency of about 600ms, Musk says that Starlink will offer “latency below 20 milliseconds, so somebody could play a fast-response video game at a competitive level.”

Everyone expects Starlink to offer much lower latency than traditional satellites because SpaceX satellites are being launched in low Earth orbits ranging from 540km to 570km. By contrast, geostationary satellites used for broadband orbit at about 35,000km.

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