SpaceX‘s satellite internet service Starlink can now be used in a vehicle in motion after it received FCC approval Thursday, which is great news for thousands of people who want ongoing connectivity on the road.
The Portability feature, unveiled in May, allows people to take their Starlink internet with them anywhere. Using it in a moving vehicle, however, would have voided the warranty prior to Thursday’s announcement.
FCC approval was granted for both SpaceX and Canadian satellite company Kepler Communications.
“We agree with SpaceX and Kepler that the public interest would benefit by granting with conditions their applications,” the grant reads. “Authorizing a new class of terminals for SpaceX’s satellite system will expand the range of broadband capabilities to meet the growing user demands that now require connectivity while on the move, whether driving an RV across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a U.S. port, or while on a domestic or international flight.”
Through its Earth Stations in Motion (ESIM) terminals (that’s the company’s internet kits attached to cars, boats, trucks, RVS etc.), Starlink’s Portability feature “enables users to temporarily move their Starlink to new locations in order to receive service anywhere within the same continent Starlink provides active coverage.” You can see these active coverage areas through the Starlink Availability Map.
Starlink can only be used within the same continent as the “service address” you signed up with — so you’ll have to move your registered address if you want to take it with you on a boat or to another continent.
Notably, Starlink’s FAQ page says the service is “provided on a best effort basis,” with speeds not guaranteed, and warns moving users “can expect lower service levels” than those staying put.
“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,” Starlink says.
But considering Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet showed big speed jump in Q1 of this year — the median download speed in the U.S. increased by 38 percent, from 65Mbps (Megabits per second) to 90Mbps — it’s at least looking up.
Plus, if you’re adding Portability to your Starlink account, it’ll cost an extra monthly fee of $25. Worth it?