6G Flagship Team Evaluates Starlink’s Performance in Rural Finland

A recent study led by the 6G Flagship programme at the University of Oulu set out to gauge the effectiveness of Starlink’s satellite internet service in Finland’s rural and remote areas. Covering a geographical stretch from Oulu to Suomussalmi on the eastern border, the team aimed to determine whether Starlink could provide reliable internet connectivity in typical Finnish cottages.

6G Flagship researches in the field with Stralink antenna.
Researchers Timo Bräysy and Harri Saarnisaari at a measurement point along the famous Raate road.

For the study, the team chose a mix of locations, from open fields to wooded areas. It’s worth noting that the selected wooded areas were not densely forested, and the trees were relatively small.

Starlink performed well in most test locations, delivering downlink data rates exceeding 100 Mbps. However, the rates dipped to around 65 Mbps in more wooded settings. Uplink speeds ranged between 15 and 40 Mbps. Connection times were also reasonable, varying from under 10 minutes to a maximum of 15 minutes. This is an important consideration given Starlink’s relatively sparse satellite coverage over Finland.

A typical wood covered measurement spot.
A typical wood-covered measurement spot.

The study encountered a limitation near the Russian border, where the connection failed. This occurred because Starlink does not serve Russian territory, and the beams intended for this area also cover parts of Finland, causing the service to be unavailable.

Overall, the study suggests that Starlink could serve as a reliable internet option for Finland’s rural and remote regions, with some caveats. While the service offers robust data rates, these can be affected by environmental factors like forest density. Additionally, the time needed to establish a connection remains within acceptable parameters, even with Finland’s lower satellite coverage.

Starlink on top of the 6G car.
Researcher Timo Bräysy at a measurement spot close to Puolanka, Finland.

The findings provide valuable data for a range of stakeholders, from decision-makers and researchers to the technology industry, furthering the broader objective of enhancing digital connectivity across Finland.