SpaceX plans on capping residential Starlink subscribers to 1TB of high-speed data per month in an effort to cut down on network congestion.
SpaceX quietly revealed the plan on Friday by publishing a “Fair Use Policy(Opens in a new window)” for the popular satellite internet service. The document says residential Starlink subscribers in the US will receive 1TB worth of “Priority Access” per month. The company has also uploaded the same fair use policy(Opens in a new window) for subscribers in Canada.
Once the cap is exceeded, the subscriber will be relegated to “Basic Access,” meaning SpaceX can begin throttling speeds if necessary, to reduce network congestion.
“For Residential Service Plans, your data usage will only count toward the Priority Access data limits described in the chart below during 7AM to 11PM (Peak Hours),” the document adds.
The change will most affect data-hungry customers living in congested areas already full of existing Starlink subscribers. SpaceX didn’t reveal expected speeds for Basic Access. But the document warns: “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. Bandwidth intensive applications, such as streaming videos, are most likely to be impacted.”
Still, residential subscribers can receive more Priority Access — if they pay. SpaceX is going to charge customers $0.25 for each additional GB downloaded over the higher speed tier. To track their monthly data usage and opt in for the additional Priority Access, customers will be able to tap the Starlink app and the company’s customer portal page.
SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But in an email(Opens in a new window) sent to customers, the company said the high-speed data caps will be enforced in December for customers in the US and Canada. The email adds that less than 10% of Starlink users exceed 1TB in monthly data usage.
The upcoming change promises to restore broadband quality to Starlink when some users across the US have been experiencing drastically slower speeds. “Starlink is a finite resource that will continue to grow as we launch additional satellites,” the company wrote in the policy document. “To serve the greatest number of people with high speed internet, we must manage the network to balance Starlink supply with user demand.”
The same document also notes residential Starlink customers will receive the Priority Access tier, but not subscribers of Starlink RV and the Starlink Best Effort plans. These users will have to settle for the slower speeds.
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