Starlink has informed users of new monthly prices where people living in “limited capacity” areas will pay $30 more per month than users in “overcapacity” areas. The changes are a price increase for many users and a decrease for others.
Starlink’s original price was $99 per month, but SpaceX is charging all residential users $110 since the March 2022 price hike. Emails sent yesterday and today informed residential users of a “$10 increase in areas with limited capacity” for a new price of $120 per month, and “a $20 reduction on areas with additional capacity” for a new price of $90 per month.
The email to users in limited resource areas said, “As an existing customer in an area with limited resource, your monthly service price will increase to $120/month starting April 24, 2023. For new customers in your area, the price increase is effective immediately. If you do not wish to continue the service, you can cancel at any time on your account page.”
The email noted that SpaceX’s continued launches of satellites will increase and that “the Starlink team is making ongoing network updates to improve performance over time.” But he said nothing about whether an area of limited capacity could become an area of over-capacity or vice versa.
While speeds can vary greatly by area, the variation generally means that users who get the lowest speeds will pay the highest prices. However, the price increase and the Starlink email invitation to cancel service may reduce customer numbers in congested areas, possibly increasing average speeds for other users. Average Starlink speeds have fallen as more users sign up for the satellite service, speed test data shows.
Users complain about price hikes and lack of choice
A Starlink customer in South Carolina, near Columbia, received the limited-capacity email and shared it with Ars. “I can’t say I’m happy about it but I don’t have much of a choice either,” said the customer, Andy, who preferred not to have his last name published.
Andy said he lives in a low-density rural area where “my only other option is AT&T DSL that barely works.” He also told us that Starlink’s speeds have “dropped a little bit” since it started using it in April 2021.
Download speeds that used to be between 200 and 250Mbps are down to around 90 to 100Mbps, and uploads have dropped from around 25 to 30Mbps to 8 or 9Mbps, Andy said. He has seen upload speeds as low as 4Mbps in the hours of 4 pm to 8 pm, he said. “I’ve seen a lot more buffering lately when watching shows on HBO Max in the evening,” he said.
While some users may cancel rather than pay more, “for those who have no choice it’s just another cost increase and the second increase in less than a year,” said Andy.
Starlink’s coverage map shows that large parts of the US are on a waiting list, which may indicate areas that are considered low-capacity. Starlink claimed to serve almost the entire United States in its submissions to the Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband map.
The price increase/decrease email sparked a lot of discussion on the Starlink subreddit. “This increase puts me at twice what my old ISP (charged), but they had a monopoly in my area and only provided 6Mbps,” wrote one user, adding that the actual speeds under the previous ISP around 2Mbps. “I hope this isn’t an annual thing. My last two raises have already been canceled by inflation, this isn’t making it any easier,” the user wrote.
“Price goes up and quality goes down. This feels familiar,” wrote another in the Reddit thread.