Starlink Introduces Soft Data Cap In France

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Starlink customers in France were informed by email of a price reduction for their monthly service. Starlink service in France will now cost €50 per month, almost half of the previous €99 per month.

But more relevant to US based customers, the email also lays out a new policy that introduces a soft data cap in France. The email has many wondering if soft data caps could ever make it to other markets.

A data cap is a limit to the amount of data available to the customer. A soft data cap means that data is unlimited, but speeds can be reduced once a customer exceeds a certain amount of data. A translation of the email reveals the following relevant bit:

In October, the Starlink team will also implement a Fair Use policy to ensure that as our customer base grows, the typical user’s quality of service will not be adversely affected by users who consume large amounts of data.

Under the Fair Use policy, all users will continue to have access to unlimited data. Users who consume 250 GB/month or less of data will be prioritized. Users who exceed 250 GB/month will still have access to unlimited data, but may experience slower speeds during times of network congestion. Users can also choose to purchase additional data to reclaim the priority at €10/100GB.

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What this means is that customers in France who use more than 250 GB of data in a billing cycle will be deprioritized on the network. Preference will be given to customers who stay under the limit. In times of network congestion and slowdowns, people going over the limit may see reduced speeds. Data remains unlimited, with no hard data cap. Customers needing additional normal priority bandwidth can purchase more at a rate of €10 for 100GB.

Members of the Starlink subreddit on Reddit where quick to speculate about what this means for the satellite internet service in other parts of the world. Some members were even predicting that the French market is being used to test this soft data cap policy. Others had the opinion that the tradeoff is worth it. If the price is cut in half, many would be willing to accept a 250 GB soft data cap.

What remains unclear at this point is if this new Fair Use policy is a result of internal Starlink discussions, or external pressure from government regulators. Starlink just regained permission in France to operate the service. It’s plausible that the new policy was a requirement to be in compliance with French regulators.

For US customers, the thought of any kind of data limit or cap is worrying. Many people flocked to Starlink because of it’s unlimited data, high speeds, and low latency. If they ever introduced data caps to the US market, it would be a major blow to one of Starlink’s main advantages. For now, though, Starlink hasn’t changed anything in the US market. There is no soft data cap for anyone outside of France.

What do you think? Would you accept a soft data cap in exchange for a price reduction? Would you look elsewhere for internet?

Related: Does Starlink Have Data Caps?

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Rod
Rod
2 months ago

Interesting, great information, thanks. We have just ordered a Starlink system for use in Portugal.

For me the latency and speed is more important than actual monthly amounts of data so a 250GB soft cap and reduction to 50euros would be acceptable.

Currently we use Vodafone wifi which gives us 100GB/month and up to 20Mbps down, 10Mbps up.

They have a soft data cap at 100GB/month but more can be purchased if required which recovers the speed – in theory. However cap or no cap we haven’t seen anything above about 4Mbps for months, at weekends it often never reaches 1Mbps, so a data cap at 100GB is almost academic. Hence our move to Starlink.

I think that a data cap, as being applied to French users, is inevitable as Starlink expand their user base. Gen 2 satellites may ease the issue with inter-satellite laser communications but as I understand it these satellites require Starship for launch and deployment.

I think that here in Portugal the Starlink’s licence is for a maximum of 50,000 users, not yet reached, after that I assume they will have to re-negotiate the licence and place ground stations in this country, currently they are all next door in Spain.