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Can Your Satellite Internet Connection Cross International Borders?
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You’re summering in Canada, and you want to winter in Mexico. Can you take your satellite internet connection with you and get uninterrupted service?
In some cases, yes, you can. But it depends on the service you use—and on the countries you visit. If you go from Canada to the UK, you’re not likely to get uninterrupted service. You’ll probably need to register with a new provider once you get to Europe.
This mainly comes down to issues like local licenses, local laws, and where your service’s mother satellites are.
Satellite internet connections across borders
- : Can you take your satellite dish to a different country?
- : Can you take your satellite dish to a different state?
Can your satellite internet connection cross international borders?
Yes, depending on the service you sign up for and which countries you want to move between.
Let’s use Starlink as an example of a satellite service you could use. (It’s not the only service that plans to offer portable satellite features, but right now, it’s the best and most popular option for most digital nomads.)
Starlink now offers a feature called Portability. For an extra $25 a month, you can schlep your satellite dish with you when you cross between countries on your resident continent.
However, you aren’t guaranteed a certain level of internet service everywhere. Service depends on the Starlink coverage map, and you won’t necessarily receive prioritization outside your registered address.
“Prioritization” is the hierarchy in which users receive internet service. With Starlink, local users will receive internet service before anyone using Portability away from home. This probably won't affect you if you’re in a low-density Starlink area. But if you’re in an area where everyone has Starlink—ouch.
But if you want to cross the seas, not even Starlink offers uninterrupted service. We’re not seeing any global satellite services that provide internet anywhere, although we suspect they’re coming.
So if you want to continent-hop, one satellite service isn’t going to do it for you. You’ll probably need to sign up with a new service for each continent you visit and sometimes each country.
Can your satellite internet connection cross domestic borders?
Short answer: probably; though we can’t guarantee every service and every country works this way.
Long answer: if you’re in the United States and want to travel to another state with your service, that should work fine as long as you have a portable satellite service and not one tied to a certain address.
The same should go for other areas with a single internet-governing body (like the Federal Communications Commission in the US). For instance, if you’re in the European Union using an EU-approved portable service, you theoretically shouldn’t have a problem moving between those 27 countries.
Make sure to compare the fastest and slowest internet speeds across US States.
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Satellite internet FAQ
Satellite internet is ideal for folks in rural areas or in need of a roving internet connection. For instance, digital nomads who travel the world in vans sometimes use satellites for internet access.
“LEO” stands for “low-earth orbit.” Many companies use LEO satellites to create their satellite networks.¹