Satellite internet everywhere you travel on the globe
Starlink Roam Review
Starlink Roam, the newest technology from Starlink internet, delivers on the promise of taking your internet connection with you on the road. It’s a relatively small price increase for folks already paying for Starlink residential internet, but the up-front costs of $2,500 for the latest satellite equipment feels pretty steep.
If you’re a digital nomad looking for true internet reliability while on the road, driving a Starlink RV would feel pretty sweet. But if you’re like me and do 95% of your work from a desk, it’s probably not worth the start-up cost.
What Is Starlink Roam?
Starlink Roam is a portable satellite system that allows you to take your internet service with you anywhere you, uh, roam. As long as you have the Starlink satellite pointed to the sky, you should get a decent internet connection. The idea is that you strap your Starlink satellite on your RV and you can get a consistent internet connection basically anywhere in the world.
For those of you who use Starlink currently, you can actually continue to use your same satellite equipment and just upgrade your plan to get the new travel features. But if you want your satellite to have the ability to give you an internet connection while you’re driving, you’ll need to fork over $2,500 for the new Flat High Performance Starlink satellite.
The good news is that you can pause and resume your service at any time. If you have an epic cross-country trip coming up, you can strategically turn the service on for the months you’re on the road—and then turn the service off when you don’t need it anymore. You’ll get charged in flexible one-month increments, so try to plan your trips on a monthly basis to maximize your time with Starlink Roam.
Starlink Roam Internet Plans
You have two plan options with Starlink Roam:
- A continent-wide coverage plan that costs $150 per month.
- A global plan that costs $200 every month.
If you don’t care about having internet access while driving, you can get the standard Starlink equipment setup that’ll cost you $599. For those of you who want the freedom to access the internet while on the open road, you’ll need to pay for the shiny new Flat High Performance satellite.
Here’s a breakdown of the costs for each Starlink internet plan:
|Starlink Roam Regional
|Anywhere within your continent
|Starlink Roam Global
|Anywhere in the world
It’s a pretty cut-and-dry price analysis between the three plans—meaning only buy the plan that you’re actually going to use. At the risk of stating the obvious, don’t pay for the Starlink Roam Global plan if you don’t plan on traveling outside of the continent. For all us North American folks, we can use the Starlink Roam Regional plan and travel from Mexico to Canada and everything in-between. But if you plan on traveling south of Mexico, you’ll need the Starlink Roam Global plan to keep you connected. Likewise, if you plan on driving north of Canada into the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll need Starlink Roam Global (and a submarine).
If you’ve read our Starlink review, you’ll know that we left feeling really impressed with Starlink’s performance. Starlink’s latency (the time it takes for data to transfer between the satellite in space and your connected device) feels lightyears ahead of other satellite internet services.
According to our research, Starlink’s median latency is only 40 milliseconds, whereas Viasat satellite internet is 627 milliseconds, and Hughesnet is 725 milliseconds. In other words, Starlink Roam’s internet speeds can move nearly 20x faster than other satellite internet providers.
While the technology is certainly cutting edge, you might still run into regions of the continent where you get internet speeds closer to 5Mbps than you do 50Mbps. That’s just the nature of the beast with satellite internet–you might run into true dead zones where even satellites can’t give you a decent internet connection.
Taking your internet while on the road is the whole point of Starlink Roam, and you basically just need to decide whether you want to travel on the same continent or take your Starlink RV across the entire globe. The idea of getting 50Mbps internet speeds while driving through North American sounds pretty incredible to me.
The portability comes with two downsides:
- a slower internet connection compared to Starlink Residential internet
- a more expensive monthly price tag
Surely someday Starlink Roam internet will match the 100Mbps top speeds of Starlink Residential internet, but we’re not there yet.
We should mention that if you spend more than two months in a foreign country, you need to transfer your account to that country to keep your service going.
But if you plan on staying somewhere for over two months, you might as well switch to a local internet service and get faster speeds for a cheaper price.
Does Starlink Roam have data caps?
Rather than implementing annoying data caps, Starlink Roam opted for a deprioritization system. If you keep the default Mobile service option with your Starlink Roam plan, you’ll be the bottom of the barrel when the network gets congested.
For example, if you’re trying to watch a YouTube video with your Starlink Roam internet connection during peak usage periods (evenings between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.), you might find that your internet feels much slower than it did a few hours ago. This slowdown can happen because other users who pay for priority internet get the better connection and you’re left with whatever’s left over.
To avoid any data throttling with Starlink Roam, you’ll need to open your wallet and fork over the cash and upgrade to the Priority Mobile service plan. Priority Mobile allows you to skip to the front of the line and get the fastest data speeds, even when the network gets busy. You can buy priority data in blocks of 50GB and 5TB (5,000GB). Also, note that you need a Priority Mobile connection to use Roam while traveling in your car.
Hopefully deprioritization and data slowdowns isn’t something you encounter often in your Starlink RV, but if you do, it might be worth the extra cost to get faster data speeds.
How to switch to Roam
For Starlink customers, upgrading to Starlink Roam can easily be done on your Starlink account:
- Log into your Starlink account.
- Open the “Your Starlinks” option.
- Tap the connection you want to upgrade and then select “Manage.”
- Tap the pencil icon next to Service Type.
- Switch your subscription to Roam and agree to the new terms and conditions.
A few minutes later, you’ll have Starlink Roam ready to go with your satellite dish. Throw that bad boy on top of your RV and feel free to hit the road. Don’t forget that you’ll need to splurge for the $2,500 flat High Performance satellite dish if you want your internet connection to work while driving.
Before you take the plunge, note that once you switch from Residential to Roam internet, you cannot switch back to Residential. There’s a literal point of no return for some reason. The only way to “switch back” is to cancel your Roam internet plan and purchase a new Residential plan from scratch. It’s an annoying oversight to keep in mind if you upgrade to Starlink Roam.
Starlink vs. Mobile Hotspots
Satellite internet and mobile hotspots are in an epic battle to be the best portable internet option. Mobile hotspots allow you to use your cellular internet connection to create a Wi-Fi signal on the go. The downside is that mobile hotspots from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile will never beat Starlink’s low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite when it comes to coverage. You can expect internet coverage in even the most remote locations with Starlink internet.
Mobile hotspots cost way less than a designated Starlink plan and the only startup investment is your smartphone (which certainly beats spending $2,500 on satellite equipment). All the premium cell phone plans come with 5G hotspot data, but every plan comes with a cap. Verizon’s premium cell phone plan, for example, gets you 60GB of high-speed hotspot data every month, which a digital nomad can rip through pretty quickly. Here’s a look at the top hotspot cell phone plans for reference:
Choosing between satellite internet and mobile hotspot comes down to how much internet you need. Hotspot data costs way less and takes a second to turn off and on from your phone, but Starlink Roam will give you much more data to use and much more comprehensive coverage.
Recap: Is Starlink Roam worth it?
Starlink Roam is an absolute godsend for digital nomads, but for normies like me who work from a desk and might want to take a cross-country road trip someday? It’s probably not worth the money. It’s certainly a niche product made for people who want to live out of an RV—but if you happen to fall into that group, Starlink Roam is absolutely the best option to stay connected wherever you travel.
To review any internet service, we use an approach that focuses on the most important factors, namely price, data speeds, data caps, price increases after introductory pricing, and regional availability.
We begin by gathering data on Starlink internet plans from Starlink’s own website and customer service representatives. We also use third-party sources and social media sources like Reddit to get a better idea from real customer experiences.
In evaluating Starlink’s internet plans, we look at the pricing structures of every internet plan, also considering introductory offers, regular rates, and any additional fees or price hikes. Values determined by weighing cost-effectiveness with the features included.
Speed and Data Cap Assessment
Whenever possible, we get hands-on experience with internet services and run our own data speed tests. We also consider any data caps or limitations imposed by each internet plan and assess how that could impact users.
Since Starlink has more coverage than any other internet service, this was an easy factor to assess.
Starlink Roam FAQ
Here are some of the most frequent questions when we get about Starlink Roam internet.
Yes, Starlink Roam can indeed be used in-motion on vehicles like RVs and trucks. However, to get the service working, you'll need to equip your vehicle with the Starlink Flat High-Performance dish, which costs $2,500. It's important to note that in-motion use is currently not supported by Starlink Roam Global plans.
No, Starlink Roam and Starlink Portable are two different subscription plans. Starlink Roam offers lower download speeds and operates under a Best Effort network access policy (meaning your data speeds might slow down during peak-usage periods unless you pay for premium data). Besides, Starlink Portable is no longer available in the United States.
Yes, but if you just need internet service for your home, we do not recommend upgrading to Starlink Roam. You’ll pay more than you would with Starlink Residential and get slower internet speeds.
Starlink Roam can be ordered in any country where Starlink services are accessible. Regional plans are designed for land-based use within the continent where you subscribe, while Global plans extend their coverage to countries worldwide. If you require Starlink access at sea, check out a Starlink Maritime plan.
Yes, you can upgrade your existing Starlink Residential plan to a Starlink Roam plan. Just don’t forget that Starlink Roam plans are deprioritized and offer lower download speeds. You also can’t change back to a Starlink Residential plan if you upgrade to a Roam plan.
You can easily pause or resume your Starlink Roam service through your Starlink account page. You won’t get charged for your service the following month (or any month in the future until you turn your service back on). It's important to note that Starlink Roam service is billed in full month increments and isn't pro-rated, meaning you'll be charged for a full month's service even if you pause your service mid-month.
Expect your Starlink system to arrive within 1–3 weeks after receiving your order confirmation.