Starlink has revolutionized the market for rural internet, providing a service that previous satellite internet companies like HughesNet and Viasat cannot compare to.
Between drastically higher speeds, better service and a rapidly growing network of satellites, there is little reason to choose anything but Starlink if cable or fiber internet isn’t available to you.
However, one thing you may be worrying about is data caps – especially if you typically have high internet usage.
In this article, I’ll be covering everything you need to know about Starlink and data caps – including Starlink’s possible plans for the future!
Does Starlink Have Data Caps?
Currently, Starlink does not have any sort of data cap for the majority of the world.
Most users are free to browse the internet and download / upload as much as they wish, without being capped, limited, or throttled in terms of speed.
This is a huge point in Starlink’s favor, and even beats out cable / fiber based ISPs like Comcast. For reference, Hughesnet data cap ranges from 15 to 100 gb per month, and considering how slow the internet speeds are, it’s hard to go far beyond that anyway.
Admittedly, Starlink is quite fast, making it possible to stream 4K video. This is a common use case that blows through a lot of data quickly.
So, unless you live in France, you can currently use Starlink as much as you want without any extra fees or charges. There are currently no data caps, and no announcements have been made to bring data caps to other users in the future.
That being said, you may still wish to read the details about France’s data cap, as it’s possible it will be rolled out to other users later on regardless.
About France’s Data Cap
Considering that unlimited data has been a perk of Starlink since the beginning, people were understandably mad when a data cap was rolled out for France.
This originally happened in August of 2022. Users received an email that their cost would be going down from €99 / month to €50 / month.
However, along with this price decrease came a soft data cap of only 250 gb.
After 250 gb has been exceeded, users have two options:
- They can continue to use Starlink an unlimited amount, but with deprioritized service. This means they may experience lower speeds while the network is congested.
- They can pay an additional €10 for every additional 100 gb of prioritized, regular service. Since the price was reduced €49, this essentially allows them to purchase up to an additional 500 gb of prioritized service for the same price, bringing their total to 750 gb.
It’s worth pointing out a couple of things.
First of all, users that go over the data cap are only deprioritized during periods of network congestion – not all the time. If the network isn’t congested, they will continue to have the same service as everyone else. I’ll talk more about deprioritization a little later on.
Secondly, most internet users do not go over 750 gb per month in usage, so this new plan will actually save them money. Considering that purchasing power is not as great in many areas of the world, it makes financial sense for Starlink to implement a cheaper plan like this, for users who would not be able to afford Starlink otherwise.
Finally, Starlink is rapidly launching new satellites to expand their network. Starlink launches have sped up drastically, and as of September 2022 new launches are happening almost every week. You can view Starlink’s launch history here.
So while I am completely against the premise of data caps (and have always hit them myself in the past), I don’t feel like this change is necessarily something to be upset about yet.
Does This Mean Data Caps Are Coming To Starlink In The Future?
Because a data cap has been introduced in France, it’s natural to worry whether or not it will roll out to others at a later date.
And the truth is, nobody knows for sure. While Starlink has made no announcement about rolling out data caps to other countries, it is always a possibility.
However, there are a few predictions we can make.
Starlink has always positioned themselves as the undeniable ruler of satellite-based internet. They are very forward with their lack of data caps and much higher speeds.
At the same time, they are rapidly launching new satellites to ensure not only that they are able to provide service to as many people as possible, but that their high speeds are maintained consistently, even for power users who consume a lot of data.
The truth is, most areas already allow anybody who wants Starlink to get it. And even for those who are still in a waiting list area, you can purchase Starlink RV to use, even at home.
We can only hope that Starlink will have the capacity to fully serve all users, even without any data caps.
However, if one were to be introduced, it’s likely that Starlink would push to have it be far beyond current competitors, so they can continue using it as a selling point.
If Starlink Introduced A Data Cap, What Would It Be?
Currently, the data cap imposed on France users is only 250 gb. We can only hope that this isn’t the data cap that would be rolled out to others in the future.
In today’s day and age, 250 gb is nothing for any serious user. Between streaming, YouTube, and downloading content, it’s possible to blow through 250 gb insanely fast – especially with Starlink’s excellent speeds.
I mean seriously – some games these days are over 100 gigabytes on their own.
Fortunately, Starlink isn’t really in the same class as other satellite internet providers. In fact, their speeds are more comparable to what you’d find with a traditional cable or fiber internet provider.
For what it’s worth, Comcast / Xfinity currently has a data cap of 1.2 terabytes. Evidence shows that Starlink may go beyond this.
Starlink applied for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) funding in the ‘Above Baseline’ class.
According to this page from the FCC, this would allow data caps no less than 2 terabytes.
While it’s possible that Starlink could implement separate data caps for people outside the area in which they received funding for, this seems unlikely.
Therefore, if Starlink were to impose a data cap, evidence shows it would be at least 2 terabytes.
This would be far more than enough for most people, even if you lived in a family with multiple people streaming at once.
What Does It Mean For Starlink Service To Be Deprioritized?
Finally, let’s talk about what it means to be deprioritized.
As mentioned earlier, users who pass Starlink’s data cap in France aren’t blocked from using the internet – they will simply receive deprioritized service during congested hours.
As someone that uses Starlink’s RV internet rather than their residential internet, I too have experienced deprioritized service.
And in all honesty? It’s not that bad!
While Starlink’s RV service has lower promised speeds than its residential service, most of the time it’s still fantastic. Take a look at this Speedtest.net result below:
While peak hours do cause the speed to drop, it’s not enough to really affect my internet performance in any way.
At most, streams may drop from 4K down to 1080p for a few minutes at a time, due to slower download speeds.
However, as far as normal browsing (or even gaming) goes, deprioritized service doesn’t make much of a difference at the moment.
For more information on Starlink and gaming, see: Is Starlink Good For Gaming? An Honest Assessment…
Currently, Starlink internet has no data caps, with the exception of users in France.
This essentially means that you have unlimited data, and can download or upload as much content as you wish.
While data caps may roll out to other users in the future, Starlink currently hasn’t made any announcements regarding data caps for other users.
I hope that you’ve found this article to be helpful. If you have any other questions about Starlink internet, please ask them using the comment form below.
Wishing you the best,
– James McAllister