After seeing the many transmission errors over the Starlink air interface that TCP can handle quite well, particularly on Linux with the BBR congestion avoidance algorithm, I was of course wondering if this has an audible impact on real time voice services when used over Starlink. So here’s how that went:
VoWifi over Starlink
First, I tested the ‘traditional’ network operator mobile voice service, i.e. VoLTE’s Wi-Fi flavor ‘Voice over Wi-Fi’ (VoWifi). This is supported by most mobile devices today and also by many network operators, so it’s quite commonly used in practice. So instead of using my Wi-Fi hotspot at home, I connected my smartphone to the Starlink Wi-Fi hotspot. To the best of my ear’s abilities, I cold not hear any short random voice quality degradation I was expecting, and delay felt just as low as over a normal ‘earth bound’ connection. So no issues here.
XMPP – Converstations over Starlink
Like Voice over Wi-Fi, the ‘Conversations’ XMPP messenger uses UDP packets for voice and video calls, also at a rate of around one packet every 20 milliseconds. Just like for VoWifi over Starlink, I could not detect any any short and randomly appearing voice drops. I then connected two smartphones to the Starlink Wi-Fi hotspot but quality remained excellent on both sides of the connection. Also, there was no problem with delay. Excellent!
Webex over Starlink
I then tried several Webex and Teams video calls for over an hour each. In the first conference, I thought I could subjectively detect short and random voice channel drops every now and then. During the next three voice + video calls, each also about an hour in duration, everything was perfect, I couldn’t detect any occasional voice or video glitches. So whatever caused the short voice quality degradation during the first call was gone later during the day. Same machine, same connectivity, same Chromium browser, no changes. So I’d say I give this usage scenario a pass as well.
After running my throughput tests and seeing how the channel behaves, I was a bit worried that real-time voice and video services would not work well. But practice fortunately proved me wrong. Good to know!
Next up: After all those tests with Linux, let’s have a closer look how Windows 11 performs over Starlink.