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Starlink Adds Portability to LEO Satellite Broadband Service

Thursday, May 5th, 2022 (8:02 am) - Score 1,704
Starlink-Dish-2-and-Modem

SpaceX has begun sending out new emails to customers on their Starlink constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) based ultrafast broadband ISP satellites, which announces the availability of their new ‘Portability‘ add-on (i.e. the ability to move the system to a different location and still receive service). But it’s NOT free.

At present Starlink has around 2,200 LEOs in orbit and their initial plan is to deploy a total of 4,425 by 2024. Customers in the UK currently pay from £89 per month (beware the future price rise – here), plus £55 for shipping and £529 for the kit (dish, router etc.). But for that you can expect unlimited usage, fast latency times of 20-40ms, downloads of c. 50-250Mbps and uploads of c.10-20Mbps (speeds may change as the network grows).

NOTE: Starlink’s compact satellites weigh about 260Kg each and orbit the Earth at an altitude of c.550 kilometres (vs 35,000km for the traditional GSO platforms).

However, until now, one of the problems with Starlink has been that they usually only guarantee service for the location where you place your order (geofencing). This is despite it being a Satellite service, where coverage and coverage flexibility should ideally be a key selling point. In fairness, you could still move your dish a fair distance (up to around 1-2km away), but beyond that the experiences seemed to vary.

Nevertheless, we know from Starlink’s distribution in Ukraine, where a lower-power (i.e. ability to run it from a car’s cigarette lighter socket) and mobile roaming mode (i.e. ability to maintain signal while in motion) were both enabled, that the system can be moved and continue to function when SpaceX allows. The good news is that this feature has now become available to Starlink’s consumer customers.

Starlink Email to Customers

Starlink is excited to announce Portability as an add-on feature for all Starlink customers. Portability enables customers to temporarily move their Starlink to new locations and receive high-speed internet anywhere where Starlink provides active coverage within the same continent. To see active coverage areas, please view the Starlink Availability Map.

You can enable Portability for £25/month on your account page. Once enabled, Portability will take effect immediately, and you can disable Portability from your account page at any time.

The use of the word “temporarily” hints that some limitations apply when moving away from your original order location / address. Digging deeper, Starlink notes that this feature does NOT replace the need for changing a service address (e.g. when you move home) – “Users who stay in the same area outside their service address location for an extended period of time may see a further decrease in performance to accommodate users at their Service Address.”

Caveats of Starlink Portability

➤ Best Effort Service: Portability service is provided on a best effort basis. Stated speeds and uninterrupted use of services are not guaranteed. Starlink prioritizes network resources for users at their registered service address. When you bring your Starlink to a new location, this prioritization may result in degraded service, particularly at times of peak usage or network congestion.

➤ International Travel: Starlink can only be used within the same continent as the registered Service Address. If you use Starlink in a foreign country for more than two months, you will be required to move your registered service address to your new location or purchase an additional Starlink to maintain service.

➤ No In-Motion Use: We do not support Starlink use in motion at this time. Using the Starlink Kit in motion will void the limited warranty of your Kit. While our teams are actively working to make it possible to use Starlink on moving vehicles (e.g., automobiles, RVs, boats), Starlink is not yet configured to be safely used in this way.

On the one hand, those who enjoy camping, need events coverage and want to stick a Starlink dish on their mobile home will now have the ability to do that, but it does clearly come with caveats, and it’s unclear how much your connection performance will vary. The additional cost of £25 per month is also fairly pricey just for moving the system, but it can be stopped once you return home. Credits to Robert for spotting this.

Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Dave says:

    From what I’ve heard, they’re really struggling to provide guarantees of service/speed if there are too many (yet still a relatively low number) of concurrent users concentrated in one area.

  2. John H says:

    Glastonbury will be a big test, all those millenniums in one concentrated spot all wanting high speed internet.

    1. Kevin says:

      All wanting plug sockets 🙂

  3. El Guapo says:

    lol if you can ever get through / get a reply from their customer service.
    Also, don’t you just love companies that charge you to click the mouse button. Like ISPs that make a monthly charge for “configuring static DHCP leases” … i’m sorry do they enter the lease once a month ? of course not, set and forget.

    It’s cool it’s finally portable. It’s not cool it’s charged for when you basically subsidise their beta test for them.

  4. NeilM says:

    What video was this?

    Link, please.

Leave a Reply to NeilM Cancel reply

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