Starlink has introduced a new Fair Use Policy for US customers that introduces a soft data limit, and cuts expected performance for all users. The change comes after months of slowing speeds across the country. The high demand for Starlink internet service has far outpaced the capacity of the network.
With other services like Starlink RV being launched, more and more Starlink users are competing for limited bandwidth during peak usage hours. The new data allocation system ensures heavy data users will have their speeds slowed, or pay more monthly for their usage.
Residential Starlink customers are assigned 1 TB of Priority Access data each month. After that data is used up, customers will have unlimited Basic Data.
Priority Access is bandwidth that has the highest priority on the network (within each service tier). For example, Residential users who have Priority Access data left on their account will experience the faster speeds than Residential users who have run out of Priority Access, and are now using Basic Data.
Data usage between 11PM and 7AM will not count toward the Priority Access data limit for Residential and Business plans. For Maritime and Aviation, any data used at any time counts toward the Priority Access quota.
Basic Data users are no longer prioritized over other Starlink users during times of network congestion. Basic Data users will experience slower speeds and reduced performance compared to Priority Access users.
Starlink users will have unlimited Basic Data for all accounts.
How much Priority Access data do I get?
Residential users will get 1 TB of Priority Access data each month. Business users can choose from a range between 500 GB and 3 TB each month.
Which Starlink plans does the limit apply to?
The new data limits affect Residential, Business, Maritime, and Aviation service plans.
RV, Portability, and Best Effort users always have deprioritized data, and will use unlimited Basic Data, with no Priority Access allotment.
How do I know how much data I’ve used?
You will be able to look at how much Priority Access you have used in the monthly billing cycle by logging in to the Starlink app or website.
Your data usage will also be displayed on your monthly invoice.
Can I purchase additional Priority Access?
Yes, you can purchase additional Priority Access data to increase your data limit. Purchases can be made from the Starlink app or the Starlink.com account dashboard. Residential customers can purchase additional Priority Access data at a rate of $0.25/GB.
To purchase, you need to opt-in to automatic billing of additional Priority Access. When you hit the data limit, you will automatically be billed for additional Priority Access. You can opt-out at any time.
Speed specifications cut by 50%
One of the surprising things about the Fair Use Policy is that it has resulted in Starlink cutting expected speeds for all users by 50%. For Residential users, this means the max expected download speed drops from 200 mbps to 100 mbps. Here are the new specifications:
Check out more details on the Starlink Specifications page.
Review the Terms of Service changes
For more detail, refer to the Terms of Service for your region on Starlink.com. Here is the important bit from the US version that creates the data limits for Residential:
4.2 Residential Service Plans. Residential Service Plans include a monthly allocation of “Priority Access.” Under such plan, after you have used your monthly limit of Priority Access data, you will continue to have an unlimited amount of “Basic Data” for the remainder of your billing cycle. With “Basic Data” your access will no longer be prioritized over traffic generated by other customers during periods of network congestion. In times of network congestion, users with Basic Access may experience slower speeds and reduced performance compared to Priority Access, which may result in degradation or unavailability of certain third-party services or applications. Your usage between 11PM and 7AM will not count toward Priority Access data limits. See the Starlink Fair Use Policy for details on data allocation and the Starlink Specifications for expected performance, per Service Plan.Starlink US Terms of Service
If you are a Business, Maritime, or Aviation customer, the data limits for those plans are explained in section 4.3:
4.3 Business and Mobility Service Plans. Business and certain Mobility Service Plans are allocated a certain amount data for “Priority Access.” Priority Access data under Business and certain Mobility Service Plans are given network priority over all other data on the Starlink network, including Residential Priority Access. See Starlink Specifications for details on Starlink expected performance per Service Plan. After Priority Access data is exhausted each month based on your data limits set per Service Plan, Starlink will throttle your upload and download speeds for Business and Mobility Service Plans unless additional Priority Access is purchased. See Priority Access data limits and throttled speeds in Starlink Fair Use Policy for more details. Business and Mobility customers who have exhausted their Priority Access and not purchased additional data will experience slower speeds and reduced performance compared to Priority Access. Throttled services will result in degradation or unavailability of certain services or applications, such as streaming video, gaming, or other bandwidth intensive applications. For Business Service Plan, data usage between 11PM and 7AM will not count toward Priority Access data limits. For Mobility Service Plan, your data usage will count toward the Priority Access limits any time you use Starlink.Starlink US Terms of Service
Be sure to also check the Fair Use Policy on the Starlink website for complete details on the new data limits.
Speed throttling and so-called soft data caps are common for ISP’s and mobile carriers. It’s not surprising to see Starlink take steps to control bandwidth usage on their network. Quarter after quarter, we’ve seen average speeds go down across the US.
For most users, these limits won’t be noticeable. For power users, who consume a lot of bandwidth, you may notice slower speeds during the evening hours. You can restore performance by purchasing additional Priority Access data.
I don’t think any Starlink customer will enjoy these new limits, but they aren’t unprecedented in the internet service industry. Hopefully the tradeoff here is improved network performance.