Understanding Starlink Data Caps: Know Your Internet Usage Limits

What does unlimited data really mean for Starlink internet?

Ben Gran
Aug 07, 2023
Icon Time To Read7 min read

Starlink is one of the best known satellite internet providers, powered by the world’s largest constellation of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Because its satellites are closer to Earth than most satellite internet providers, Starlink can offer fast speeds, low latency, and unlimited data. However, even though Starlink does not have data caps, there are still some technical limits that can affect your Starlink satellite internet experience.

Does Starlink have data caps?

Starlink customers technically get unlimited data. There are no hard data caps for Starlink internet service, meaning Starlink never cuts off your internet connection for spending a lot of time online. But some Starlink plans limit the amount of high-speed data you receive.

Instead of a hard internet data cap, Starlink uses data deprioritization to manage its satellite network. Data type deprioritization is also called internet throttling. It means that certain customers might have to accept slower speeds during certain times so higher-priority customers can get faster speeds.

Fortunately, Starlink plans offer generous amounts of high-speed data. For example, some Starlink Business plans offer up to 2 terabytes of high-speed data per month. This amount of data might as well be unlimited; most people can’t use one terabyte of data in a month, no matter how many movies they watch. But other Starlink plans for consumer households, such as Starlink Standard and Starlink Roam Regional, have stricter limitations and different rules for the amount of high-speed data you can use and how it affects your internet speed.

Let’s take a closer look at Starlink data caps across its various plans so you can understand what to expect from Starlink satellite internet service.

Starlink data tiers

Your Starlink data type—and therefore your experience with Starlink speeds—depends on your Starlink plan. There are four data prioritization tiers from Starlink, and each has its own type of relationship with different Starlink internet plans.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Starlink’s data tiers:

Tier
Starlink data type
Speed rating
1Mobile PriorityFastest, top priority Starlink data
2Priority2nd fastest; lower priority than Mobile Priority
3StandardLower priority than Priority and Mobile Priority
4MobileLowest priority Starlink data

Tier 1–Mobile Priority: Starlink’s fastest, highest-priority data is intended for emergency situations, like a boat lost at sea or an injury at a remote campsite. Starlink Maritime plans also use Mobile Priority data.

Tier 2–Priority: Business and Standard plans have Priority as their high-speed data option. If you have Starlink Business, this means you get the high-speed experience with faster internet speeds and higher priority data than other customers in your area.

Tier 3–Standard: Starlink Standard customers use Standard data by default. This data type is unlimited for Standard and Business plans, and your data reverts to this tier if you use all your Priority Data for the month.

Tier 4–Mobile: This is the unlimited data tier for Starlink Roam customers. These speeds aren’t necessarily slow, but this data type is a lower priority for the satellite network than Mobile Priority or Priority data. So you might see slower speeds sometimes, depending on overall coverage and activity in your area.

It’s important to keep in mind that even at slower speeds, Starlink internet service is designed to be faster and have lower latency than most other satellite internet providers.

Starlink Standard data limits

Starlink Standard, as the name suggests, uses Standard data, the third tier of Starlink’s data types. That doesn’t mean Starlink Standard internet is slow. When working at its best potential, Starlink offers a fast, low-latency internet experience better than any other satellite internet provider can deliver. But as a Starlink Standard customer, you might sometimes experience slower speeds and data type deprioritization, based on overall demands on the network and your location on the Starlink coverage map.

Starlink plans don’t have a hard data limit. Standard plan customers get the fastest speeds possible, accounting for the tier priority, unless they use more data than the average Starlink customer. It’s not clear where that benchmark is or how much slower your internet experience might become.

Depending on where you live, other satellite internet providers, like Hughesnet and Viasat, can offer competitive speeds and pricing. These other satellite internet companies also give a clearer understanding of what your true monthly data cap really is. Here’s a quick breakdown of similarly priced plans from all three satellite internet providers, so you can compare Starlink vs. Hughesnet and Starlink vs. Viasat.

Plan
Pricing
Data
Get it
Starlink Standard$120/mo.*Unlimited
Fusion$94.99/mo for 12 mo.200GB
Viasat Unleashed$99.99/mo.Unlimited
* Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 2 weeks or more to fulfill.

Hughesnet and Viasat both offer plans for $99.99 per month (competitively priced with Starlink), but in a head-to-head data comparison, Starlink delivers more data and faster speeds in most situations. Even with its prioritization tiers and its sometimes-complex ways of describing its Starlink data caps, Starlink’s unlimited Standard data is likely to give you a faster, lower-latency experience than other satellite internet providers’ 100GB of high-speed data per month.

But if you want more data, Starlink is not the only game in town. Some of Viasat’s higher-priced plans offer up to 500GB of high-speed data, which isn’t too far behind the Starlink experience. Plus, Viasat is available in more places. Hughesnet offers slower speeds (25–50Mbps) than Starlink or Viasat’s fastest plans, but Hughesnet is mostly geared toward a different audience: People who need basic internet connectivity for everyday online activities rather than those who maintain more data-intensive online lifestyles.

Starlink Business plan data caps

Starlink offers high-powered Business satellite internet plans with clearly specified amounts of Priority data.

Plan
Pricing
Data
Get it
Starlink Business$140.00/mo.40GB of Priority data
Starlink Business$250.00/mo.1TB of Priority data
Starlink Business$500.00/mo.2TB of Priority data

Starlink Business customers can get in the fast lane with 1TB of Priority data for $250.00 per month, and all Starlink Business customers have the option to buy additional Priority data for $0.50 per GB. This means that your internet data gets prioritized above Standard and Mobile customers in your area.

As a Starlink Business customer, you don’t have to worry about data type deprioritization or slower speeds. If you want better clarity and certainty about just how fast your satellite internet can be, Starlink Business could be a better choice than a residential Standard plan. But be prepared to pay extra for that level of speed and consistency.

Starlink data caps for on-the-go plans

Some Starlink plans are portable, designed for customers on the go like RV owners, campers, explorers, and boaters. You can choose from a range of Starlink Mobile and Priority data options, depending on where you travel and how fast you need your internet to be when you’re off the grid or on the open sea.

Plan
Pricing
Data
Get it
Starlink Roam Regional$150.00/mo.Unlimited Mobile data
Starlink Roam Global$200.00/mo.1TB Mobile data (worldwide)
Starlink Mobility/Maritime$250.00/mo.50GB Mobile Priority data
Starlink Mobility/Maritime$1,000.00/mo.1TB Mobile Priority data
Starlink Mobility/Maritime$5,000.00/mo.5TB Mobile Priority data

If you want Starlink Roam internet service for your RV or camping trips, you need to be prepared for the possibility of slower speeds than you get at home. That’s because Starlink Roam gets unlimited Mobile data, which is on a lower tier than Mobile Priority and Standard data.

Again, this is not the same thing as a hard Starlink data cap, since you don’t lose your internet connection while traveling. But because of the complexity of delivering satellite internet to on-the-go customers, Starlink has to deprioritize the standard data for Roam customers compared to its other networks.

But if you want faster internet speeds for your RV, Roam customers can upgrade to Mobile Priority data for $2.00 per GB. Paying this much for extra data is expensive, and it isn't the right fit for many customers. But if you’re a digital nomad who needs constant connectivity to work from remote locations, Mobile Priority data is worth the extra cost.

If you want the absolute fastest satellite internet experience while traveling or boating, you should consider Starlink Mobility or Starlink Maritime. These plans both have the same data amounts and pricing, giving you Starlink’s fastest possible Mobile Priority data.

Starlink data caps vs. Viasat data caps vs. Hughesnet data caps

Starlink is not the only satellite internet provider to offer unlimited data with a limited amount of higher-speed data. It’s industry standard for satellite internet providers to offer unlimited satellite internet in the sense that your internet never gets cut off, even if you go above your data cap.

However, unlike Starlink’s unlimited Standard data (Tier 3 of Starlink’s data prioritization), other satellite internet providers noticeably throttle your speeds if you go beyond your monthly limit of high-speed data. You might want to buy additional high-speed data to hold you over until your next month’s billing cycle.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how Starlink’s data amounts compared to Hughesnet and Viasat plans with larger amounts of high-speed data:

Plan
Pricing
Data
Get it
Starlink Standard$120/mo.*Unlimited
Hughesnet Fusion$94.99/mo for 12 mo.Unlimited
Viasat Unleashed$99.99/mo.Unlimited
* Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 2 weeks or more to fulfill.

Starlink isn’t the only way to get fast satellite internet. At higher price points, Hughesnet and Viasat get more competitive with Starlink’s data limits and speeds. And Viasat and Hughesnet already have coverage in all 50 states, while Starlink might not yet be available in your area.

You can have an easier time staying within your data allotment if you know how much internet data you need based on your everyday internet activities. For example, if you’re worried about how much data Zoom uses for working from home, you might need to upgrade your internet plan. If you like to watch a lot of streaming videos, you might need a costlier satellite internet plan with more high-speed data. Or consider getting satellite TV along with your satellite internet service.

Some customers have had inconsistent, confusing experiences with Starlink data caps, and Starlink customer service can be hard to reach. If your home is not in a well-served region of the Starlink coverage map, or if you want to know just how fast your internet may be and exactly how much high-speed data you get, you should consider other options like Hughesnet or Viasat.

Starlink data caps FAQ

Does Starlink have enough data for video streaming?

Yes! If you’re looking to cut the cord and do all of your TV viewing via online streaming services, Starlink’s generous data limits and fast speeds make it a great option for streaming TV online.

What’s the difference between Starlink Roam and Starlink Mobility?

Starlink Roam costs less ($150/mo.) than Starlink Mobility (starting at $250/mo.), and Starlink Roam uses lower-priority mobile data. Starlink Mobility uses the fastest, highest-priority data tier called Mobile Priority, with download speeds up to 220Mbps. Starlink Mobility also requires the higher-priced, higher-performance Starlink in-motion hardware that costs $2,500—although Starlink Roam customers can also choose this in-motion hardware.

Starlink Mobility is generally a better choice for digital nomads and mobile businesses who need the fastest connectivity and are willing to pay more for it. Starlink Roam is a good choice for people who need reliable home internet for their RV and don’t mind using a lower-tier of Starlink data. 

Which internet service providers have unlimited data?

It’s becoming an industry standard for traditional cable and telecom internet service providers to offer 1TB (or more) of high-speed data per month. For most customers, this is basically the same as “unlimited” data; it’s hard to use 1,024GB of data per month.

Satellite internet providers, on the other hand, tend to offer lower amounts of high-speed data because of the cost and complexity of delivering internet service from space. But even if you manage to use your full amount of high-speed data, most satellite ISPs will give you unlimited data at lower speeds for the rest of the month. As long as you pay your bill and follow the Terms of Service, they will not cut off your internet connection.

Ben Gran
Written by
Ben Gran