Starlink Portability announced and available

It’s been a little unclear how Starlink would handle their dishes moving from place to place. Would they take steps to stop this? Would they embrace it? Would it be a separate offering? This week they’ve unveiled portability mode, a $25 per month add-on, and a little more clarity about how they handle mobile users.

Elon Musk’s 5/3/2022 tweet embracing Starlink portability

When Starlink first started offering service via their better than nothing beta, they only offered service within a few miles of your service address. This continued as the service rolled out to wider availability until early April, when users began noticing a roaming flag being flipped in the Starlink app’s debug info. At that time users noticed they were now able to move their receiver far from their service address while maintaining service. But, no one knew if this was a permanent change, an accident, or something else.

The beginning of this week Elon Musk, Starlink’s CEO, tweeted singing the praises of Starlink for RVs, camping, and other activities away from urban areas. This certainly seemed like a good sign that Starlink wasn’t going to try and squash boaters and RVers from using the service in multiple locations.



Fast forward to Thursday morning and Starlink subscribers received the email I’ve captured above. Basically, we have our answer about Starlink’s approach to subscribers who move their dish. They’re fine with it, but they’re going to charge you for it. Lastly, their FAQ makes clear that users who are outside of their service cell will receive lower priority than subscribers in their home cell.

Because my receiver is many miles from the home address I used when I ordered my service, I also got the email above. It makes it clear that I have until June third to add portability or my service will stop working.

A careful reading of Starlink’s portability FAQ yields a few more details. First, Starlink says it works on same continent as your service. It also warns that only two months can be in another country. But, I’m not clear if that’s two consecutive months, two months in a twelve-month period or something else.

But, I think the most interesting part of the FAQ is the specific prohibition on in-motion use. I have a feeling some of that is probably regulatory CYA. But, it’s also consistent with what Starlink has said all along. If you use the dish in motion, you will void your warranty. It’s speculation, but, to me, this also points to a likely mobile dish and perhaps service offering.



Over the last week I’ve done some RV travel. My Starlink kit — early testing entry here — made the trip with me and proved very useful on multiple occasions. Our first stop found us in Timmonsville, SC with very little cellular service. As you can see in the screen capture above, I was getting a little over four megabits per second download speeds. That’s pretty slow and makes getting much done tough.

In about five minutes I was able to pull the dish out, set it a few feet from the RV and power up. It took less than two minutes for the dish to find service and start delivering much better service. I know my screen capture above only shows fifty something megabits per second down, but after the dish optimized position some more, I got well over 100 megabits per second.

I repeated this usage in two other locations and was very glad to have the option for higher speed connectivity. Each time it took just a few minutes to find service and bring the connection online.

I’m anxious to see what the future brings with truly mobile operation. It’s also possible that things may change as more users subscribe to the platform. But, in the meantime, I’m enjoying high speed connectivity anywhere I can find the sky.



Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

3 Responses

  1. Bill Greene says:

    OK

  2. RIck Kwasnicki says:

    Will this work on a boat at anchor moving around and rolling, or underway. Pitching and rolling…

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Hi Rick, There are numerous posts to the Facebook “Starlink on Boats” testifying that it works fine at anchor and even underway in fairly boisterous conditions…

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/starlinkonboats

      …but note in Ben Stein’s entry above that using it underway apparently voids the warranty.

      Also, most everyone says that Starlink cuts out once they get 12 miles offshore. I believe that’s mostly a regulatory issue that can be solved, but also suspect that offshore use is a tiny market relative to Starlink’s goals.

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