Starlink offers a total of seven different internet plans. Its two most popular ones, especially with consumers, are Residential and RV.
In this article, I will break down the major similarities and differences between Starlink’s Residential and RV plans. Aspects such as key features, hardware, pricing, performance, limits, and use case recommendations will be covered.
Update: the RV plan is now called Roam as of March 8th, 2023. Starlink not only rebranded the plan but added a Global roaming option, costing $200 per month, as well.
Residential is Starlink’s flagship internet plan, which allows subscribers to access high-speed internet at their registered service address.
Meanwhile, the Roam option is aimed at those who want to use Starlink at any location within their country of residence.
It is, as the name suggests, aimed at those who travel in vehicles and other moving objects.
Both Residential and RV/Roam subscribers can test out the respective option for 30 days without paying a single cent. Furthermore, contracts can be canceled at any time.
Subscribers of both plans can switch between them at will. However, switching from Roam to Residential is only possible in areas with excess capacity.
By default, subscribers of Residential and Roam receive the same Standard hardware kit.
In case you want to know more about the hardware, such as its weight or height, then make sure to check out the following article.
The kit not only comes with the rectangular dish but also includes a base, router, and various cables.
Additional mounting and cabling options as well as cases can be purchased in Starlink’s online store.
Those who need to access the internet while in motion can do so by opting for the Flat High Performance dish, which can be mounted right on top of your vehicle.
Starlink claims that it’s currently the only designated dish for in-motion use in approved countries.
The pricing of your plan is dependent on the country in where your account is registered in. We keep track of all prices across the 50+ countries Starlink is available here.
Residential subscribers in the United States are charged based on the area they are located in.
Subscribers in excess capacity areas pay $90 per month while those situated in limited capacity areas are charged $120 per month.
Roam customers in the United States, starting on April 24th, 2023, will be charged $150 per month. They previously paid $135 every month.
And as stated above, Starlink has since introduced a global roaming option, which costs $200 per month and allows you to use Starlink wherever there’s active service coverage.
Check out our breakdown of Starlink's Roam plan here
Pricing for hardware is dependent on what equipment version you order. The standard rectangular dishy, which will be sufficient for 99% of all Residential use cases, costs $599 (including shipping).
Meanwhile, Roam subscribers have the option to purchase the standard rectangular option or the flat high performance dishy, which can be mounted on top of the vehicle. The flat high performance dish costs $2,500.
The performance, namely download and upload speeds, users will experience is largely dependent on their physical location.
Users who are located in areas with limited bandwidth will naturally see worse performance than those in locations boasting excess capacity.
With that being said, performance still differs vastly between the two plans. That’s because Starlink prioritizes network resources for users at their registered service address, which is detailed in its Fair Use Policy.
As such, subscribers of Residential can anywhere from 25 Mbps to 100 Mbps for downloads, around 5 Mbps to 25 Mbps for uploads, and a ping of 20 ms to 60 ms.
Users subscribed to Residential/Standard are thus prioritized over those who pay for Roam (also called Mobility).
However, Residential users receive less priority than subscribed to Business (also called Priority) or Mobile Priority.
Starlink reserves the right to degrade your prioritization if you consistently “exceed what is allocated to a typical residential user” – without specifying what that means in terms of GB/TB thresholds.
Bandwidth intensive applications, such as streaming videos, gaming, or downloading large files are most likely to be impacted by such actions.
Meanwhile, customers of RV/Roam are always subject to deprioritized access and will thus see worse performance compared to those on Residential plans.
Again, the performance you’ll experience is highly dependent on your location. In general, RV/Roam subscribers can expect download speeds of up to 50 Mbps, upload speeds of up to 10 Mbps, and similar latency (20 ms to 60 ms).
However, Roam subscribers could technically subscribe to the Mobile Priority plan where they can access priority data while on the go. Here, download speeds can be as high as 220 Mbps (similar to what Business/Priority customers are seeing).
Both plans have some downsides that you need to be aware of. The biggest drawback of Residential is the limited flexibility of the plan. With Residential, you can only use Starlink at your registered service address.
That’s conversely the greatest strength of Roam, allowing you to take your Starlink hardware wherever you want to.
Residential subscribers could previously opt into the Portability option. Unfortunately, Starlink removed the upgrade for new customers altogether.
Another aspect in which Residential lacks flexibility is the option to pause. Residential, Business, and Portability service types don’t offer the option to pause your plan, which means you either pay or have to cancel altogether.
Lastly, Residential is also subject to availability. Users in areas that operate at full capacity are currently placed on a waiting list.
Related: how to get Starlink faster
Some have the option to opt into the Best Effort plan, but will then have to cope with limited speeds.
On the other side, subscribers of RV/Roam, in exchange for being able to access the internet wherever they want, have to cope with deprioritized access (thus slower speeds) while paying more per month.
Mobile/RV/Roam subscribers also can’t purchase additional Priority Access data. The only option is to switch to Mobile Priority, which costs substantially more.
And if you are unsatisfied with your current Roam performance, then changing locations is likely your best bet.
Starlink, back in May 2023, introduced the option to switch from Mobile/Roam back to Residential.
However, the change is subject to availability. If your local cell runs at capacity, then you have to remain on Roam.
Additionally, when you do make the change from Roam to Residential, then keep in mind that Starlink will use the last address your dishy was located in as the registered service address, so only make the change at the location you permanently reside in.
Another limitation is that in-motion usage is only possible if you purchase the flat high performance dish, which costs 4x as much as the regular version.
Finally, there are also time limitations with Roam. Starlink service is limited to the continent of the registered Shipping Address.
If you intend to use Starlink in a foreign country for more than two months, you will need to relocate your account to your new location or obtain an additional Starlink to continue receiving uninterrupted service.
Can You Use Starlink Roam at Home?
Yes, you can use Starlink’s Roam plan at home. The only requirement you need to fulfill is being physically present in the country your account is registered in.
With that said, you could also use Roam in a foreign country for two months – so long it’s located on the same continent as your registered country of residence.
Additionally, using Roam at your home is one of the most adopted tactics of getting Starlink faster.
Residential is not available to those living in areas with limited capacity. However, Roam usage is not limited by cell capacity. You will experience the lowest prioritization, though.
What Plan Is Best for Me?
Each plan has its pros and cons. In the end, whether you choose to subscribe to Residential or RV is solely dependent on how you intend to use Starlink.
Here’s a breakdown of who should subscribe to what plan.
Subscribe to Residential if:
- You need a fairly fast connection
- You rarely travel and mostly stay at your registered service address
- You want what can essentially be defined as unlimited data
Subscribe to Roam/RV if:
- You need a reliable connection outside of your home address
- You want to access the internet while in motion
- You need to pause your subscription
- You plan to travel abroad and take your hardware with you (RV works on boats, for example)
- You don’t need consistent access to high-speed (!) internet
- You are comfortable paying up to $150 per month
- You need access to a functioning internet connection immediately (since there’s no waitlist for Roam users)
In any case, you could theoretically test the Residential option first before you make the switch to RV if that’s really needed.
Whatever plan you choose ultimately boils down to personal preferences and needs.
For example, I use Starlink when visiting my parent’s house and when going on a road trip. So, flexibility was of the utmost importance, which means I opted into Roam.
However, if you’re staying put most of the year, then Residential is certainly your best bet.
And if you ever need to take your dishy with you, you can always opt into either Portability (if you’re located outside the United States) or switch to Roam for good.
Feel free to let me know what option you went with and why…