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SpaceX’s Starlink is still scaling up its constellation of internet satellites, and the service is only intended for use at the specific location where the user is registered. But as we noted earlier this month, for an additional $25 per month, it will let users take their dish somewhere else every now and then with the service’s new “portability” feature.
For that package with portability, you still need to have at-home service first, and it warns users they’ll be de-prioritized while away from home. But if you’re a vanlifer or RV enthusiast who is willing to buy a dish without having a “home” address with prioritized service, now Starlink for RVs will let you sign up and grab a dish for access right now. There’s no waiting required, although it’s worth mentioning the service is not set up to work while in motion and, as Elon Musk helpfully mentions, the antenna is a bit too large for your car.
Of course, as seen in the Starlink subreddit, not everyone is happy that Starlink for RVs has provided a no-waiting option even as some fans who signed up for home service have shipping dates that aren’t due until 2023.
Taking that route won’t be cheap, though. Like most people in the US who live east of the Mississippi River, my home address is waitlisted for Starlink service, but I could sign up for a dish today with $99 down and an estimated $110 monthly service price. If I opt for Starlink for RVs, then I can get a dish shipped to me ASAP, as long as I’m willing to pay the full $599 price plus fees immediately and $135 per month for internet service.
For my extra $25 each month, I would enjoy “best effort service,” as well as the option to pause service for months when I don’t need it. As the Starlink for RVs FAQ explains, “Network resources are always de-prioritized for Starlink for RVs users compared to other Starlink services, resulting in degraded service and slower speeds in congested areas and during peak hours. Stated speeds and uninterrupted use of the service are not guaranteed. Service degradation will be most extreme in “Waitlist” areas on the Starlink Availability Map during peak hours.”
Effectively, that translates to a big warning for anyone who might try to use the RV program — intended for people headed into the wilderness where other internet access may not be possible — as a way to get Starlink home internet right now. It’s your choice, but it would cost extra and likely have slower service, making waiting seem more worthwhile.