Starlink recently introduced regional and global roaming plans, giving customers the option to take their dishy to all kinds of new places.
In the following article, I will explain what Starlink Roam is, what hardware it comes with, how much it costs, what potential downsides are, and how it differs from other options.
What Is Starlink Roam?
Starlink Roam is one of Starlink’s seven internet tiers that allows subscribers to access the internet away from their registered service address.
Roam originated from the previous RV moniker. Starlink officially rebranded it into Roam back on March 8th, 2023, to highlight the additional features that were added.
Starlink has since (May 2nd, 2023) added another name to the mix. Roam is now also referred to as Mobile. Currently, over 300,000 people are subscribed to just Roam alone.
Customers subscribed to Mobile/Roam can access the internet in any country that Starlink is licensed to operate in. You can check Starlink’s availability here.
It has to be noted that Starlink Roam is only available for usage on land – even though there are various examples of people using it at sea and even in jurisdictions (like Barbados) where Starlink isn’t licensed in.
However, since early May 2023, Starlink has begun enforcing usage-on-land roles and thus requires people to now switch to Mobile Priority.
As a result, Roam is largely aimed at those who travel and live in vehicles such as RVs or camper vans.
You can even access the internet while in motion if you purchase the required hardware.
Now, Starlink offers two distinct products to Mobile users. The first one is (Mobile) Regional, which allows you to use Starlink anywhere in your registered home country.
However, you do have the option to leave your country for up to two months within a given calendar year. Said country has to be within the same continent, though.
Otherwise, you need to update your location to the new country, which means your rate will adjust as well. Starlink utilizes geofencing to detect the location of your hardware.
This is where the second option, dubbed (Mobile) Global, comes in. Global, as the name suggests, allows you to take your dishy wherever Starlink is licensed to operate.
Unfortunately, in either case, that flexibility comes at a cost. Service is provided on a Best Effort basis, meaning there is no priority access included in the plan.
Service degradation will be most extreme in ‘Low Capacity’ areas, which are highlighted in the availability map I mentioned above.
Bandwidth will always be prioritized for those on stationary plans like Residential or Business (now also called Priority).
In terms of speed, you should expect anywhere between 5 Mbps to 50 Mbps for downloads and 2 Mbps to 10 Mbps for uploads. Latency should hover around 25 ms to 50 ms.
Meanwhile, those subscribed to Residential (also called Standard now) will receive “Standard” access data while users of Priority (Business) and Mobile Priority (Maritime) get to enjoy the highest speeds (around 220 Mbps).
What Hardware Is Available To Roam Subscribers?
Roam subscribers can choose from two different hardware options, namely the regular rectangular dish and the flat high-performance dish.
The rectangular version is 513 mm (20.2 in) tall, 303 mm (11.9 in) wide, weighs 2.9 kg (6.4 lbs) without the ancillary cable, consumes 50 to 75 watts of power, and is 100-240V AC powered.
Meanwhile, the flat high-performance version boasts a height of 575 mm (22.6 in) and width of 511 mm (20.1 in), 5.9 kg / 13 lbs without the cable, uses 110 to 150 watts on average and also utilizes 100-240V AC power.
Where the two differ is in their performance and usage. The flat high-performance dishy is specifically designed for in-motion usage and can thus be mounted on top of a vehicle. It is also more resilient to extreme environments.
With that being said, both dishy’s come with the standard Starlink router and various cables.
The high-performance kit also includes a separate power supply and corresponding mount, a mount for the router, and an Ethernet cable.
How Much Does Starlink Roam Cost?
In the United States, customers of Roam are charged $150 per month for the Regional plan. Meanwhile, the Global option costs an additional $50 for a total monthly fee of $200.
On top of that, a one-time hardware fee of $599 is applied for the regular rectangular dishy while the in-motion option costs $2,500. Shipping and handling put you down another $50.
We keep track of all Starlink prices for both Mobile/Roam and Residential/Standard here. Feel free to check it out!
Starlink previously charged $135 per month for RV but decided to hike the price at the end of February 2023.
The comparable Portability plan was simultaneously halted for US-based subscribers and has now been removed for new customers altogether.
$150 or $200 certainly seems like a steep price to pay. In fact, it actually is. For example, in Europe Starlink charges the equivalent of $90 to $105 for the regional Roam version.
And up north in Canada Roam costs CA$170 per month (~ US$123). Lastly, Australians pay roughly $116 per month for the luxury to take their dishy on a trip across the country.
Comparatively charging more is little surprising given that subscribers in the United States had to grapple with network congestion issues in the latter half of 2022 and all throughout 2023.
Starlink’s likely goal is to curb adoption to some extent while shifting its focus to areas with lower adoption – all while getting more satellites into space and setting up additional ground stations.
What Are Potential Downsides?
I want to preface this section by highlighting that Starlink’s Mobile plan, and especially the Global option, is an amazing innovation.
After all, you can now get access to the web in the more than 50 countries Starlink is licensed to operate in (granted you have enough luggage space).
With that being said, it’s important to highlight the various disadvantages that customers subscribing to Roam will likely have to grapple with.
The biggest one is certainly speed. Starlink itself has gone on to state that Roam users will likely receive half the download speeds compared to those on Residential plans.
Related: how Roam compares to Residential
That’s because service is always provided on a Best Effort basis, meaning subscribers of the above-mentioned stationary plans will be prioritized.
Whatever speed you ultimately end up seeing will depend on the congestion of the network, though. Anecdotally, subscribers in Europe have reported that they don’t really see any drops in speed when switching to RV.
However, since over 80 percent of all Starlink subscribers are based in the US, it’s only logical that many cells are indeed congested.
And while Starlink does offer the ability to test the service 30 days for free and cancel at any time, those initial results could not be conclusive, depending on where you’re currently based.
For example, if you move from an area with excess capacity to one with low capacity, your performance will drastically change for the worse.
Another disadvantage of the Roam plan is that you can’t change back to the Residential option if there’s no capacity in your area.
Lastly, Roam only supports in-motion connectivity for those who can churn out $2,500 to purchase the flat high-performance dishy. And the dishy itself won’t be installed by a Starlink representative, with the burden being on the customer.
How Is Roam Different From The Portability Plan?
The Portability feature can be added to your account as an optional service. This feature provides deprioritized service when your Starlink is installed away from your fixed residential address.
However, it’s worth noting that speeds and uninterrupted service aren’t guaranteed when a user is away from their registered address.
Additionally, the Residential option in the US does not offer the Portability feature, which means you’ll need to change your service plan to Roam if you want to use Starlink away from your registered address.
In fact, Portability has now been removed for new subscribers altogether. Only existing customers can remain subscribed to it.
While Portability does not support in-motion use, it can be removed from your account at any time whereas Roam users are essentially stuck to the plan (if not using the trick I outlined above).
Can Residential Customers Switch To Roam?
Yes, you can switch to Roam if you are currently on the Residential plan. Just follow these simple steps, and you’ll be good to go.
- First, visit Starlink.com and sign in to your Starlink Account.
- Once you’re in, look for the ‘Your Starlinks’ section, where you’ll see a list of your Starlinks.
- Locate the Starlink you’d like to update the subscription type for, and click the ‘Manage’ button next to it.
- Now, you’ll see the “Service Type” line with a Pencil Icon. Click on that icon to modify your subscription.
- At this point, you’ll be able to change your subscription and accept the terms. To switch to Roam, just select “Change to Roam.”
Starlink has since introduced the option to switch back to Residential/Standard or (Mobile) Priority, too.
Keep in mind that changing back to Residential is subject to Starlink’s approval for now. Those located in limited capacity areas can currently not switch back.
Roam, despite some of its shortcomings, is a great option for those who live and travel frequently in an RV, van, or truck.
Your mileage will certainly vary in terms of speed, depending on the location you currently reside in.
On the other side, Starlink remains far and beyond the best option in terms of performance and reliability – oftentimes even in excess capacity areas.
Plus, the ability to use Starlink in more than 50 countries across the globe opens up a whole array of new destinations that have previously been unattainable for those needing a stable connection.