SpaceX Adds $25 Monthly Fee for Starlink Service
Elon Musk’s SpaceX introduced a $25 monthly fee this week for customers who want to move their Starlink internet service satellite dishes.
“Portability allows customers to temporarily move their Starlinks to new locations and receive high-speed internet wherever Starlink provides active coverage on the same continent,” SpaceX wrote in an email to customers on Wednesday, copies of which were viewed by CNBC.
Users who activate this feature will see the base price for the Starlink service increase to $135/month from $110/month.
It is noteworthy that many users in the past year announced himself on social networks that they were able to move the Starlink dishes outside of the address they registered for service without significant disruption to service. Starlink is increasingly appealing to the one-life nomadic community because of its relatively fast speeds, but SpaceX is now charging for that flexibility.
Starlink dishes weigh between 10 and 15 pounds, and the kit that comes with the antenna includes a WiFi router and a vertical mount base.
Starlink’s network of about 2,000 satellites in low Earth orbit is designed to deliver high-speed internet anywhere. In March, SpaceX said the total number of Starlink subscribers is around 250,000, including both private and corporate customers.
According to the Starlink support website, SpaceX’s new portability option comes with a few important caveats for users. Users who activate this feature will receive the “best effort” service, while the company’s claimed speeds of 100Mbps to 200Mbps are “not guaranteed”.
“Starlink prioritizes network resources for users at their registered service address. When you move your Starlink to a new location, this prioritization can lead to poor quality of service, especially during periods of peak usage or network congestion,” says SpaceX.
For users with multiple Starlink antennas, mobility “must be selected and purchased per location,” which means a $25 per antenna fee. While the service can be activated instantly, SpaceX will bill customers for a full month.
“For example, if you enable portability on March 12 and your next billing date is April 1, you will be charged $25 for the previous full month on April 1,” the company said.
Starlink satellite internet coverage map as of May 5, 2022.
International travelers are also prohibited from using Starlink meals “on the same continent as the service’s registered address.”
“If you use Starlink in another country for more than two months, you will need to move your registered service address to a new location or purchase an additional Starlink to maintain service,” SpaceX said.
SpaceX’s description of portability also doesn’t specify if the feature is only activated by users, or if the company could start charging if it detects that a customer has moved their dish outside of their registered address.
Also, portability does not mean portability.
While SpaceX emphasizes that its “Starlink teams are actively working to enable the use of Starlink on moving vehicles” such as cars, boats and recreational vehicles, customers need to be in a fixed location to use the service.
“Using the Starlink kit in motion will void the limited warranty on your kit,” says SpaceX.
Last year, law enforcement fined a driver in California for screwing a Starlink antenna onto the hood of his car that was in place while driving.
California Highway Patrol Officer T. Cayton