One of the biggest promises of Starlink is the fact that it can theoretically be used anywhere on the globe.
The launch of Starlink’s Portability feature back in May 2022 brought us one step closer to that promised reality.
In this article, I will detail what Starlink’s Portability feature does, how it can be activated, its costs, who it is made for, and what its potential downsides are.
Update 22/02/2023: Starlink just announced that the Portability option has been eliminated for Residential and Business users located in the United States.
This essentially means that it’s not available anymore since Best Effort customers can’t access it either. Residents of other countries can still opt into Portability.
Update 27/04/2023: The Portability option has now been made redundant. Only active customers can continue using Portability while new ones won’t be able to purchase it.
Furthermore, Portability will now be charged at the beginning (instead of the end) of your billing cycle.
Update 20/06/2023: Starlink sent out an email notifying subscribers that the Portability feature is now being sunset for existing subscribers as well.
Those who are interested in remaining mobile need to subscribe to Roam or Mobile Priority now.
What Is Starlink Portability?
Starlink Portability is a feature that allows subscribers to temporarily move their hardware to a new location for a limited time period.
The hardware can be moved anywhere within the same continent Starlink provides active coverage in. For example, if your dish is registered in the United States, then you won’t have reception in Europe or South America.
Interestingly, Starlink has since added a new option for Portability users called transcontinental data, which essentially enables a user to access Starlink outside the continent of their Service address.
However, its hardware isn’t really meant to be transported on cross-continental flights anyways given that the dishy alone weighs 9.2 lbs (~ 4.17 kg).
Service is offered on a best effort basis, meaning that network capacity will be prioritized for those on the Residential or any of Starlink’s B2B plans.
This is highlighted in Starlink’s Fair Use Policy, which is slated to go into effect starting in April 2023. As such, Residential users will be given 1 TB of data every month until hitting their best effort cap.
The Portability feature can be enabled right within the Starlink app. Simply sign into your account and search for the ‘Manage Service Options’ button, which then allows you to ‘Add Portability’ and leads you to a dedicated sign-up page.
How Much Does Starlink Portability Cost?
Starlink’s Portability feature costs $25 per month for subscribers in the United States. The charge will be added to your monthly bill.
As such, consumers in the United States will pay a total of $135 per month for the ability to move their dishy around.
Pricing is roughly the same in other countries. In Canada, for example, subscribers pay an additional CAD 30 per month while here in Germany we are charged €20 a month on top.
Portability can be activated and canceled at any time. Once enabled, the $25 add-on charge will be added to your upcoming monthly bill.
Consequently, should you have multiple Starlink devices enabled, then Portability must be selected and purchased for each location.
Who Is Portability For?
Portability is particularly aimed at those that wish to leave their homes (i.e., registered service address) for a limited amount of time.
For example, if you plan to take your kids on a camping trip, go on vacation, or visit family in a remote location, then temporarily enabling Portability may make sense.
Keep in mind that speeds and thus best performance won’t be guaranteed. So, you may end up receiving worse speeds than at your home address.
Another aspect to be aware of is that your service address needs to be activated before adding the Portability feature.
Otherwise, you will encounter an error (“unexpected location”). As such, you need to enable it at your registered service address before purchasing Portability.
I would recommend activating Portability a day or two before your trip and then taking it for a test ride a few miles away from your registered service address just to be sure.
With that being said, should you plan to be away from your registered service address for an extended amount of time, then it is recommended to activate Starlink’s RV plan (now called Roam).
What Are the Downsides?
The biggest downside of Portability, apart from the fact that it costs money, is the deprioritization of download and upload speeds.
As stated above, bandwidth will be prioritized for subscribers on the Residential or B2B (Business, Maritime, Aviation) plans.
In reality, speed will depend on how congested the cell is. Users in North America, where most of Starlink’s customers are based, should thus experience the biggest speed drops.
Another downside is the somewhat limited availability. Users on the Best Effort plan cannot enable Portability as of right now.
Thirdly, subscribers are prohibited from using Portability while in motion and would otherwise risk losing their limited hardware warranty.
Therefore, Starlink recommends switching to the Roam plan and possibly purchasing the Flat High Performance dishy for those that want to access the internet while driving.
Lastly, Portability may not be useable everywhere. Some parts of the United States, namely around the East and West Coast, are still waitlisted.
Users testing Portability have reported that they received coverage in those very same areas, though. However, Starlink itself won’t guarantee that to be the case and thus leaves you to your own devices.
How To Cancel Portability
Canceling the Portability add-on is fairly straightforward. Simply log into your account and select “Your Starlinks”.
Then click on “Manage” and finally on “Change Service Plans” where you’ll be able to remove Portability.
Once you removed Portability, you won’t be able to subscribe to it anymore (as stated in the intro above).