The new service offers the same regional coverage as the previous RV service for $150/mo. Additionally, there is now a global coverage option available for $200/mo. However, the Starlink FAQ now specifies that Starlink Roam is geo-fenced for land use only, which may indicate that boaters using the service on water may be cut off. The Starlink Flat HP system, which allows in-motion usage, is only available with regional coverage and cannot be used with global service. Despite recently increasing the price of the Starlink for RVs service and eliminating the ability to make residential plans portable, SpaceX is continuing to make changes for mobile users by offering new options with Starlink Roam.
SpaceX has removed the Starlink for RVs plan from its website and replaced it with a new offering called Starlink Roam. While it’s essentially a rebranding of the original plan, the new name better reflects the fact that Starlink is being used beyond just RVs. One new feature is the availability of a Global tier of service, allowing users to access Starlink around the world. However, there is a catch: the Starlink Roam FAQ states that these plans are restricted to land use only, which may worry those who use the service on the water. So, what has changed and what has remained the same?
The Starlink Roam Plan
Both tiers of the Starlink Roam service can be paused when not in use, but they are charged on a full-month basis with no pro-rating. While the name has changed from Starlink for RVs, the Regional use of Starlink Roam will provide the same land-based service that has been appreciated by Starlink for RVs subscribers since its launch in May 2022. Like Starlink for RVs, Starlink Roam is still considered a best-effort service and is always given lower priority than other Starlink services.
Starlink Roam’s Regional coverage is still priced at $150 per month and is limited to land use within the same continent as the customer’s registered shipping address. Customers in the United States who have the Regional plan can roam throughout North America. SpaceX has now clarified that the Roam plans will only work on land and will be geo-fenced accordingly.
Starlink Roam Global Coverage
SpaceX is now providing a Starlink Roam Global coverage option for $200 per month, which enables customers to travel anywhere on land where Starlink service is currently available. This service is designed for those who travel internationally, whether it’s for a few months or an extended period.
Initially, Starlink Global Roaming was only available to select users through an invite-only program, but it has now been officially introduced as part of the Starlink Roam Global coverage tier.
While this service is perfect for global travelers, it’s important to note that it is limited to land use only, which may disappoint those who rely on Starlink while cruising.
Starlink Restricts Service to Land Use Only with Geo-Fencing
The recent introduction of Starlink Roam comes with a notable change – the wording in the FAQ now explicitly states that the service is geo-fenced for land use only, which suggests it will not function on water.
According to the FAQ, Regional plans are limited to working on land within the same continent as the registered shipping address, while Global plans function on land in any active service coverage area. The FAQ also mentions that users who use Starlink in a foreign country for more than two months may be required to update their account to reflect their new location.
While the name Starlink for RVs hinted at land-based use, the terms of service and FAQ did not explicitly state that it was restricted to land use. This led many boaters and cruisers to discover that the plan worked in numerous locations on water, including during ocean crossings.
Will Starlink Roam Be Restricted to Land Use Only?
For boaters and cruisers, the prospect of a geo-fenced land-based Starlink Roam service is a concerning development. Previously, the Starlink for RVs service had been available on the water, making it an attractive and affordable option for those who depended on it. However, with the new name change and updated FAQ, it appears that SpaceX may be moving towards more strictly enforcing the terms of service for the Starlink Roam plans, which could include restricting usage to land only.
While the Starlink Maritime plans are currently the only officially approved global maritime plans, they are prohibitively expensive for most, with data usage limits and monthly costs in the thousands of dollars.
It remains to be seen how strictly any potential geo-fencing will be enforced, and whether SpaceX will offer alternative plans or add-ons specifically targeted towards the cruising community.
For now, those who rely on affordable connectivity while at sea will have to wait and see what the future holds.
Limitations of Starlink Roam Plans
The Flat HP Starlink receiver, which supports in-motion usage, is not eligible for the Global coverage plan, making it unsuitable for certain customers.
Moreover, both Starlink Roam plans offer “best effort” service, which means that in congested areas, connectivity may be limited as it will be deprioritized behind other Starlink users.
If you use your Starlink Roam plan in a foreign country for more than two consecutive months, you may be asked to update your account to reflect your new location. This is likely due to regulatory and taxation requirements in various countries.
Another limitation is that only the Starlink Standard (rectangular Dishy on a stick) is eligible for the Global plan, while the Starlink Flat HP approved for in-motion use is not. This hardware restriction may have been put in place to comply with regulatory issues in different regions. However, some customers who were already using the Flat HP system with a Starlink for RVs plan outside their home continent may be caught off guard by this restriction.
There are still some issues to be resolved with the rollout of Starlink Roam.
Contradictions between the FAQ and Terms of Service
Due to the rapid changes that have occurred with Starlink recently, the Terms of Service and FAQ have many contradictions regarding the new and former services. It is suspected that it will take a few weeks for any new official terms of service changes to be approved and updated by SpaceX lawyers. Currently, the FAQ seems to have the most up-to-date information.
No Migration from Starlink Residential to Starlink Roam Regional
At present, Starlink Residential customers are not permitted to switch to the $150/mo Starlink Roam Regional plan, only the $200/mo Global plan. Additionally, existing Starlink Residential plans cannot be upgraded to Starlink Roam Regional ($150/mo), only to Starlink Roam Global ($200/mo). This means that Starlink Residential customers who wish to travel will have to either pay $200/month or cancel their service and open a new account to get the $150/mo regional plan. Hopefully, this is just a system error that Starlink will fix soon. SpaceX warns that once a customer switches from Residential to Roam, they cannot switch back to a more affordable fixed-location Residential plan. While users may have a path to switch back to Residential using Self-Service Equipment Transfers, it will involve canceling their current service and starting new service under a new account and email.
Changing between plans
Currently, it is not clear whether users can switch between the two tiers of Starlink Roam service based on their travel. For example, if a US-based Starlink Roam user with Regional coverage wanted to travel to Europe for a few months with their Starlink, could they change to the Global tier for their travels and then switch back to the Regional tier once they are back in the US? It is hoped that accommodations will be made for this, as some users may only be part-time global travelers.
In October, Elon Musk tweeted that he was considering renaming the Starlink for RVs service. It’s logical to drop this service tier and use the Starlink Roam branding, which better describes the Starlink service’s versatility. While RV use is popular, there are many other ways to travel and still use Starlink. This name change will help eliminate confusion on which service customers need, especially with the removal of the Portability option on the Residential plan. It’s now clear that for travel with Starlink, customers need Starlink Roam at either the Regional or Global level, depending on their needs. However, the rapid pace of changes and price increases, along with the removal of the Portability option, have left many customers frustrated. Furthermore, the threat of geo-fencing has left many boaters concerned about their future. We can only wait and see what the future holds.