This week, Starlink notified its customers via email that their internet access may be throttled if they use more than 1TB in a month. Starlink’s “Fair Use” and “Specifications” documents have been updated to reflect the changes, which include slower average speeds and countermeasures to reduce peak congestion.
Following the launch of the new policies in December, standard residential users will begin each month with 1TB of “Priority Access” included in their $110 monthly fee for use during “peak hours,” 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Outside of those hours, data will not be counted toward the cap. If a subscriber exceeds 1TB, they will be switched to “Basic Access,” which is unlimited but may be much slower than Priority Access when there is congestion.
After reaching the cap, users can choose to continue paying for Priority Access at a rate of $0.25 per GB or $250 per TB. Yes, as one Reddit user points out on the Starlink subreddit, purchasing two Starlink subscriptions is $140 less expensive than purchasing two TB of data with a single subscription.
According to Starlink, approximately 10% of its customers use more than 1TB in some months, and the company notified them via email that the change would affect them. Some of them will be able to avoid the limit by waiting until after 11 p.m. to begin downloading the next game or OS update. However, some users are understandably upset that Starlink is changing its offerings after they have already paid the $599 upfront fee for the necessary hardware.
Starlink also changed the expected speeds of its regular service without informing its customers, though with a remark: its customer support team says that no individuals will experience a sudden drop in speed, but that the new speeds reflect the future average speeds that it expects to achieve as it expands its user base. Current users report that they have been getting much slower speeds than what Starlink advertises for months.
The expected speed for regular users in most of the world used to be 50-200Mbps down, but with Priority Access, it’s now 20-100Mbps. Speeds for Best Effort, RV, and Basic Access are expected to range between 5 and 50Mbps. Businesses can purchase faster speeds and up to 3TB of monthly Priority Access for fixed locations or 5TB for a move or ocean-based locations.
It does seem strange for SpaceX to choose to introduce data caps to Starlink now after the service already took a hit to its reputation last month when Elon Musk stated that the company did not want to continue paying for the service’s use by the Ukrainian military before later backtracking. According to CNN, SpaceX is still in talks with the Pentagon about footing the bill after 1,300 terminals used on the frontlines went offline last week.