Starlink’s internet availability depends on the user’s location, like any other satellite internet. Previously, satellite internet providers had settings that allowed customers to connect to the internet only in a single location address.
This eliminated the ability to use the Starlink internet in different locations. Luckily, this is no longer a problem that Starlink customers need to worry about as they have finally added the roaming feature to Starlink.
Commonly referred to as the portability feature, the Starlink roaming feature enables customers to momentarily relocate their Starlink to new places and receive high-speed internet anywhere. Moreover, Starlink provides active coverage within a continent.
So, roaming is a perfect feature for customers who like camping with an internet connection or traveling across many places. This feature comes with an additional charge with full monthly increments.
The beauty of satellite internet is its global coverage, or at least that is what Starlink will become after sending over 40,000 satellites into low earth orbit. With this, it will become even easier to enjoy fast and stable internet connectivity, even in the darkest corners of the world.
Starlink, being the pioneer of this dream, offers a roaming feature. This new feature provided by Space-X’s internet connection now allows its users to disconnect from their carrier networks and hop onto other networks as they change locations.
With the Starlink satellite internet having global coverage, users will no longer worry about accessing data networks when they are out of range of their home networks.
Portability is a highly used feature for people with RVs and continuous movements. The capability to take your dish with you anywhere is a great addition to Starlink services. Customers received emails indicating that the portability feature s now available for use. Below is an in-depth explanation to understand the Starlink roaming feature.
Before Portability was launched, users could not connect to the Starlink satellites while roaming with their Starlink dishes. The Starlink kits used a geo-locking tool that uses the address on your account. Service areas are divided into cells. When a dish is taken out of its cell, say 30 miles away, it cannot connect. Starlink has a map page on its website that details the approximate boundaries of each cell.
The geo-locking of the Starlink services had customers frustrated at the service, as they benefited from mobile services. Starlink also did not offer in-motion service with Portability, so subscribers cannot use it while driving. Doing this, voids the hardware’s limited warranty. Additionally, for international travel, Starlink says you will need to list an address change after two months of using the kit abroad.
How To Enable Portability Mode
1. The hardware
Starlink originally is designed for static uses; however, for the portability feature to work, it has to accommodate the motion and changing variables. For hardware set up on moving things like the RVs, trains, and planes, some considerations were put in place as shown:
- Are the Dish motors capable of keeping up with the vehicle’s motion? Some ought to incapacitate the motors and fix the dish in a horizontal position pointing up, but that introduces the variability of the satellite to point out to the satellites.
- Is the regular mount strong enough to safely hold the dish in place in case of an accident or impact?
The dish has a 9-axis sensor (3-axis Accelerometers, Gyros, and Magnetometers) which it uses initially to level the dish on powering up, then to turn and tilt the dish to the best direction to connect to satellites.
The 9-axis sensor is also used to adjust the phase array’s beam steering action to compensate for dish movement. The beam steering sensor can handle faster angle changes in pitch, roll, and azimuth.
To achieve the horizontal setup.
- Disconnect the motors with the dish horizontally before powering the dish (facing up)
- Connect to the satellites using the normal procedure
- Let it rotate and pitch itself with the optimum angle
2. Software setup
To enable the portability mode on the Starlink dishes:
- Login into your Starlink account through Starlink.com. note that you cannot allow the roaming mode on the Starlink app
- Use your location selection and click on the manage service options
- Click on add portability
- A Prompt message that explains the $25 monthly fee and clicks on the added Portability to finish the process
Based on early testing, the Starlink service works great when using Portability mode. Speeds are similar to the rates at one location. Latency and reliability act like the dish was in its primary address. This may change as more users join the network.
It is vital to note that priority for network traffic will be, as stated in the Pre-Order Agreement on the Starlink website. Portability in an area with many Starlink users may significantly affect speeds and performance.
It is essential to recognize that Portability is the best-effort service and might be slower and a bit less reliable than the normal service. Due to the way the network operates, SpaceXs guidance, there are about 100 Starlink customers per 300Km. Once a cell is flooded, Starlink does not open access to any customers in that cell.
SpaceX is offering Starlink on a “best effort basis,” meaning that stated speed and uninterrupted use of services are not guaranteed.
Even with the monthly subscription, Starlink customers who use the Portability feature get different network priorities compared to other registered service addresses.
And this makes sense because it would be unfair for fixed-location customers if the people roaming the network sucked up all their bandwidth. Portability service is provided on a best-effort basis.
The speeds and stability you pay for are not guaranteed. This is mainly because Starlink prioritizes its registered service addresses and optimizes its resources. As a result, you may end up degrading your service when you bring your Starlink to a new location, particularly at peak usage or network congestion.
Even when roaming in one location for extended periods, you may lose your network priority even further. Moreso, updated terms of service give Space-X the mandate to force a change in your registered service address. This forced change applies to users on a secondary location for more than 2 billing cycles. Consequently, the tax rates being applied to your account may change.
Starlink roaming internet comes in handy only when you are out of your primary location. This may happen for short periods and necessitate you to turn off the portability feature. Below are steps to turn off Portability and end the month’s payment.
Step 1: To log in to your Starlink account. This Portability is not accessible in the Starlink app.
Step 2: To access the Your Location section and click on Manage Service Options.
Step 3: Click on Remove Portability
Step 4: A message to confirm your decision indicates how many more days you can use Portability. Click Remove Portability to finish the process
Starlink equipment will pose a problem for many hoping to take their high-speed internet on the road. Unlike other mobile internet solutions like cellular routers, Starlink requires a bulky satellite dish (affectionately known as a “dishy” in Starlink parlance). This isn’t exactly the road-tripping solution some may be looking for.
Portability is still a new product for Starlink, and the company is open about its limitations. According to the Starlink support site, service is being provided on a “best effort” basis, meaning users might experience slower speeds and higher latency while traveling. Providing service to users’ registered addresses is still the company’s priority.
Starlink also won’t offer in-motion service with Portability, so subscribers can’t use it while driving as it voids the hardware’s limited warranty. There’s also that caveat about international travel; Starlink says you’ll need to register an address change after two months of using the equipment abroad.
Cost And Portability
SpaceX has started rolling out the ability to add Portability on the Starlink customer portal. This step makes it easy to set up this feature as needed. The Portability service will auto-renew every month once activated until it is canceled.
Note: Space X bills you in monthly increments of $25/month for your Portability enabled and is not pro-rated.
When Starlink service is active in the location, you can use it anywhere. However, you need to be subscribed to the Portability feature on your account or have the Starlink RV plan. You can use Starlink anywhere only with either of these plans.
Most importantly, you must be in the area where Starlink internet has coverage. You can find a coverage map on Starlink’s website.
You can use the Portability mode immediately after enabling it on your account.
With the residential service plan and Portability, it is impossible to pause your Starlink bill. If you are using Starlink seasonally, use the Starlink RV plan instead.
Customers can move within the same continent. When roaming in a different country, the international portability mode allows you only for two months.
Unfortunately, no. Using the Starlink satellite internet while in a moving vehicle is impossible. Using it on a car voids your warranty. Starlink has plans to support moving applications in the future. Starlink RV also does not support in-motion use.
Despite its shortcomings, Starlink has generally succeeded in finding rural customers needing more reliable internet service. The new Portability feature has a similar vibe: useful in very specific circumstances for now, with the promise of expanded usability in the future. Having to trek all that equipment around and power source issues are problems Starlink is already working on.
The limited Portability feature is available now; customers can add the service on their Starlink account page. Adding Portability brings Starlink’s monthly fee up to $135 with a $599 initial equipment fee. Pair it with your Cybertruck Camper for the ultimate Musk effect.