To keep the network from getting too crowded, SpaceX plans to limit residential Starlink users to 1TB of high-speed data per month.
SpaceX quietly announced the plan on Friday by putting out a “Fair Use Policy” for the popular satellite internet service, which opens in a new window. The document says that US residents who sign up for Starlink will get 1TB of “Priority Access” every month. The same fair use policy(Opens in a new window) has also been uploaded for Canadian subscribers.
Once the limit is reached, the subscriber will be put on “Basic Access,” which means SpaceX can start slowing speeds if it needs to to make the network less crowded.
“For Residential Service Plans, your data usage will only count toward the Priority Access data limits described in the chart below from 7 AM to 11 PM (Peak Hours),” the document adds.
Customers who use a lot of data and live in areas with many Starlink subscribers will be most affected by the change. SpaceX didn’t say how fast Basic Access would go. But the document says, “When the network is busy, users with Basic Access may have slower speeds and less performance than those with Priority Access. This could cause some third-party services or apps to work poorly or not at all.” Most likely to be affected are apps that use a lot of bandwidth, like streaming videos.
Still, residential subscribers can pay extra to get more Priority Access. SpaceX will charge customers $0.25 for each GB over the higher speed tier they download over and above the first GB. Customers can use the Starlink app and the company’s customer portal page to track how much data they use each month and decide if they want to sign up for the extra Priority Access.
When asked for a comment, SpaceX didn’t answer right away. But in an email sent to customers, the company said that the high-speed data caps would be enforced in December for customers in the US and Canada. In addition, the email says that less than 10% of Starlink users use more than 1TB of data each month.
Some Starlink users in the US have been getting much slower speeds than usual, but the upcoming change is supposed to fix that. In the policy document, the company said, “Starlink is a limited resource that will continue to grow as we launch more satellites.” “To give high-speed internet to as many people as possible, we need to manage the network so that Starlink can meet user needs.”
The same document says that Starlink residential customers will get the Priority Access tier, but Starlink RV and Starlink Best Effort plan subscribers will not. The slower speeds will have to do for these users.