Starlink Portability/Roaming Mode Explained

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Note: Starlink RV is now available. The article below explains Portability/Roaming for residential tier customers, not Starlink RV customers. Please see our Starlink RV post for information on that service plan. 

Starlink officially launched Portability mode in May of 2022. Portability mode, aka roaming mode, allows customers to use their Starlink dish outside of their registered service address. Portability was a highly requested feature for people with RV’s or vacation homes. The ability to take your dish with you and have internet anywhere is a huge addition to the Starlink service.

Starlink customers began receiving emails on May 4th, 2022 stating that Portability was now available. In this article, we explain exactly what Starlink Portability mode is. We will cover the features, limitations, availability, and cost. After reading this guide, you’ll know if the add-on feature for Starlink is right for you.

Roaming Service Before Portability

Before Portability was launched, users attempting to roam with their Starlink dish outside of their service address could not connect to the Starlink satellites. The Starlink kits were essentially geo-locked to the address on your account.

Each service area is divided up into cells. If a customer took their dish outside of their own cell, say 30 miles away, they would not be able to connect. Starlink recently launched a map page on their website that shows the approximate boundaries of each cell.

This obviously frustrated customers who may have circumstances that would benefit from a portable service. For example, a contractor who needs internet at a rural job site. Or perhaps a customer who goes on RV trips who want’s to bring Starlink internet to the campground.

Firmware Update Allows Testing

On February 9th, 2022, Starlink users noticed a firmware update that added a new line to the Starlink app debug information. This line gave a status for “Roaming”, indicating that the dish would now be aware of whether it had passed out of its assigned service cell.

Starlink Roaming Mode

Several Starlink users on the Starlink subreddit tested this new firmware. They discovered that Starlink would now connect in areas where it previously would not. They also noticed that in those areas, the roaming state changed to true.

Although Starlink made no official announcement, it was clear that this firmware update enabled what would become Portability mode. At the time, users did not have to pay extra for Portability since it was essentially in a beta testing phase with no official support.

How Much Does Starlink Portability Cost?

With Portability now officially launched, customers will pay $25 per month to add Portability to their account. When you enable Portability, you are charged on your next billing cycle. The extra fee cannot be pro-rated, meaning you can’t just pay for part of a month. The extra $25 per month will continue until you turn off Portability on your account.

See also: Starlink Prices – Up Front and Monthly Costs

How To Enable Portability Mode

Step 1: Log in to your account on Starlink.com. Portability cannot be enabled in the Starlink app

Step 2: User the Your Location section, click on Manage Service Options

Step 3: Click on Add Portability

Step 4: A message pops up that explains the $25 monthly fee. Click Add Portability to finish the process

What Happens When Roaming?

Based on user anecdotes and early testing, Starlink service works great when using Portability mode. Speeds are similar to the speeds at the primary location. Latency and reliability seem to behave as if the dish was still at the primary service address. This may change as more Starlink orders are filled, and more users are on the network.

It is important to note that Portability users will be less of a priority for network traffic. This is spelled out in the Pre-Order Agreement on the Starlink website. As you can see below, users who are roaming will see reduced performance:

4.2 Best Effort Service at Secondary Service Locations. Starlink prioritizes network resources for users at their registered Service address. Portability Service at Secondary Locations will be best effort and users may see slower speeds during times of network congestion. At its sole discretion, and subject to network availability in the region, Starlink may update the primary address registered on your account along with invoicing requirements if you use Services at the same Secondary Location for more than two billing cycles. If you stay in the same Secondary Location for an extended period of time, and that region does not have sufficient network availability, you may experience further performance degradation to accommodate priority users at their registered Service addresses.

Starlink.com Pre-Order Agreement – US

If you use Portability to roam in an area with a lot of Starlink users, you may see your speeds and performance drop significantly. It’s important to understand that Portability is a best effort service, and will not be as fast or reliable as the normal service at your primary address.

How To Turn Off Starlink Portability

Most people will only need to roam with Starlink for short amounts of time. For example, you may need internet service at your remote cabin in the summer. Follow the steps below to turn off Portability and end the $25 per month fee.

Step 1: Log in to your account on Starlink.com. Portability cannot be disabled in the Starlink app

Step 2: User the Your Location section, click on Manage Service Options

Step 3: Click on Remove Portability

Step 4: A message pops to confirm your decision. It also tells you how many more days you can use Portability. Click Remove Portability to finish the process

FAQ

Can I use Starlink anywhere?

Yes, as long as Starlink service is active in the location. You will need either the Portability feature on your account, or the Starlink RV plan to use Starlink anywhere. You can find a coverage map that shows availability on the Starlink website.

How long does it take for Portability mode to take effect?

Portability can be used immediately after enabling it on your account.

What is the difference between Starlink RV and Portability?

Portability is a feature addon for regular residential Starlink accounts. Starlink RV is a different type of account, with a lower priority on the network. Both Portability and Starlink RV customers can roam anywhere with Starlink service. The major difference is that Starlink RV subscriptions can be paused/resumed at any time.

Can I pause my Starlink service?

With the residential service plan and Portability, you cannot pause your Starlink bill. If you are using Starlink seasonally, we recommend the Starlink RV plan instead.

What if I have multiple Starlink locations?

Portability must be purchased and enabled for each location.

Does Portability mode work internationally?

Yes. Customers can move within the same continent as the registered service address. If you are roaming in a different country for more than 2 months, you’ll be forced to change your service address.

Does Portability work while in motion?

No. You cannot use Starlink on a moving vehicle at this time. According to Starlink, this will void your warranty. Starlink does have plans to support moving applications in the future. Starlink RV also does not support in motion use.

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Susan
Susan
4 months ago

This information is very misleading. I have been a StarLink customer for over a year. I enabled portability before I left my home state to travel for 6 months. I have a brand new dish that has never been connected because my original StarLink was having service issues so StarLink shipped me a new one. Rather than get it dirty then travel with it I just kept the bad one working for a couple of weeks then hit the road with the clean one still in the box. StarLink disabled my OLD dish and my new dish is in the system as active. HOWEVER, even though I’ve added portability IT WILL NOT CONNECT. I’ve had a dozen conversations via their sorry support ticket system and the general information they are giving me is that you MUST connect your StarLink dish at the original location BEFORE it can be portable. It will download upgraded software. Without that initial connection and update the dish WILL NEVER WORK at any other location. You don’t mention this at all and StarLink says NOTHING about this on their web site either. I asked if I could purchase a dish that already had the upgraded software and they said NO the factory only ships them out with the other software that is outdated when you get your dish. In addition to this, I know several people who have NEVER been to their home location, purchased a StarLink dish and it WORKED for them traveling on the road. So what StarLink says is NOT what I know others personally have experienced. Yet, my dish refuses to connect. You might want to get better information from StarLink. You are telling people that as soon as they turn portability on it will work and that IS NOT TRUE at all.

Keith
Keith
4 months ago
Reply to  Susan

Susan: You are trying to use internet from the same device you’re trying to enable service on, similar to surfing to a cell plan on the phone you plan to enable once there. To fix SL, just change your service address temporarily to where you actually are, and if your account is good it should work within a couple hours. Let it upgrade software, enable portability/RV mode, and then set your address back to home.

I love my starlink, as I haven’t even had dialup at my house for 15 years. It’s a godsend for those with no other options.

Tom
Tom
5 months ago

1) Roaming / Portability is a dynamically evolving Best Effort service. Meaning that in the near term you should not expect portability in higher density areas where cellular data coverage is available. You should also not expect portability to work where the starlink website shows “Unavailable / Waiting List” even if there is no cellular coverage at your location. Your best bet for portability will be in available cells >100 from metropolitan areas.

2) Portability availability will change with time but Starlinks emphisis will be on maximizing its customer base which means some places that worked the last time you were there may no longer support portability even though your in a cellular dead zone. Or i should say especially if your in a cellular dead zone where there is a rapidly growing population of fixed Starlink customers.

3) Based on the above dont make Stalink portability your “if all else fails” Emergency Communications. Zolleo Irridium based SMS devices and much more expensive Sat Phones will remain coverage reliability leaders for those without an Amature Radio License in the <$150/mo price point. Zoleo cost just $50/mo/user or less on a family account.

Be safe,
Stay connected!

Roger Kadler
Roger Kadler
6 months ago

To whom it may concern:
We live in an RV in Canada for 6 months in the summer time each year as we are retired. Is it possible to put
your service on vacation for the 6 months through the winter time and not have to pay the total $140/month
when it’s not being used. If not is there possibly a reduced rate while it’s not in use in order to keep the service affordable.

Poop
Poop
1 month ago
Reply to  Roger Kadler

Yes, RV service can be turned on and off on a monthly basis. So that will work for you!