SpaceX’s Starlink has included unlimited bandwidth since launch, but users who exceed 1 TB of data used in a single month will now be throttled once they reach the threshold. Starlink sent out an email to its users across the U.S. and Canada on Friday outlining the new so-called “Fair Use” policy, under which residential users will start each month with “Priority Access” and then continue to receive coverage with “Basic Access” for the remainder of the monthly billing period if they cross that 1 TB threshold.
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 1 TB 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 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (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 the 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 or the company’s customer portal page.