The Starlink satellite network has invited customers to try out a service that will allow them to take advantage of an internet connection “almost anywhere on land in the world” for $200 per month.
Operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX corporation, Starlink unveiled its Global Roaming service in an email to customers, offering them the chance to stay connected virtually anywhere. The price for this plan is stated as $200 per month, on top of the $599 cost of the hardware kit, comprising antenna, stand and router.
However, it is not clear how Starlink intends to follow through on this promise, as the company still does not have a license to operate in many areas of the world. A glance at the company’s availability map shows that it covers much of North and South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, but most of the rest of the world is either unserved or marked as “coming soon”.
The email, published online, reveals that Starlink is only accepting payment in US dollars right now, and if you don’t happen to be living in the US, Musk’s company is also handing you the responsibility for acting as importer of the Starlink kit, including the payment of any customs duties and taxes.
It also contains a caveat: “As this is a new technology, you can expect Starlink’s typical high speed, low-latency service intermixed with brief periods of poor connectivity, or none at all. However, this will improve dramatically over time.”
Starlink already offers a mobile service of sorts for RVs (think campervan if you are a Brit), but this can only be used within the same continent as the shipping address (not much of a limitation, really). It also offers Portability, designed to let a customer access the internet away from their registered service address, but users will not get priority access when doing this.
The service has proven popular, with subscriber numbers reportedly passing 1 million just before the end of 2022, up from just 145,000 at the start of the year. However, this was causing a decline in download speeds, as we reported last autumn.
This didn’t stop the UK government from announcing an official trial of the Starlink service at the end of last year, in order to test out its effectiveness for connecting homes and businesses in areas of the country poorly served by broadband.
Starlink also hit the headlines earlier this month when it was reported that the company was taking steps to prevent Ukrainian forces from using its satellite service for purposes that it did not approve of, such as controlling military drones. ®