Starlink Mobile vs. Starlink Residential


Easton Smith
Nov 21, 2023
bullet8 min read

Starlink is one of the best satellite internet providers around, offering faster speeds and lower latency than most of its competitors. But Starlink offers several different services, and potential customers have to decide which is best for them.

Starlink’s service can be broken down into two broad categories: residential service, which gives you internet in a single location, and mobile service, which can be hauled all around the country (or, in some cases, the world) for internet on-the-go.

We’ll do a deep dive into these two types of Starlink service, looking closely at the plans, prices, performance, and policies that go along with them. We’ll also explore potential alternatives—like Visible Wireless and T-Mobile 5G—for those who want other mobile internet options.

Starlink Roam is now Starlink Mobile.
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Just like Twitter is now X, Starlink has changed the names of some of its products. What was called Starlink Roam is now called Starlink Mobile. What was Starlink Residential is now just called Starlink Standard. It’s a bit confusing, especially because the company still uses the old names in some parts of its website. But what can we do? Elon loves his name changes.

Understanding the different Starlink plans

As we said, Starlink’s services can be broken down into two major categories: mobile internet and fixed internet. The mobile option is great for RVs, campers, and other nomadic lifestyles, while the fixed service is best for those who live in a stable residence that isn’t on the move.

But within each of these two categories there are some further differences. You have standard and priority options. The standard data options will get you unlimited data, but that data can be slowed down if you’re using too much.

In Starlink’s own fine print, the company says: “If bandwidth patterns consistently exceed what is allocated to a typical residential user, Starlink may take network management measures, such as temporarily reducing a customer’s speeds …”

The activities that are most likely to cause your data to be slowed down are listed as “streaming videos, gaming, or downloading large files.” 

On the other hand, Starlink states that “Priority data is given network precedence over standard and mobile data, meaning users will experience faster and more consistent download and upload speeds.” So, long story short, if you want to ensure that you have consistently fast speeds, you’ll have to shell out extra cash for Priority.

Here’s a breakdown of exactly what you’ll get with each of Starlink’s different plans.

PlanStandardPriorityMobileMobile Priority
Price$120.00/mo. $140.00–$500.00/mo. $150.00–$200.00/mo. $250–$5,000.00/mo.
Features Unlimited dataUnlimited standard data plus 40GB–2TB of priority data. Unlimited Mobile Data inland Portability Pause Service Unlimited Mobile, Data inland, Portability, Pause Service, Global Service, In-motion, Ocean Use, Network Priority, Priority Support, plus 50GB–5TB of priority data
Download speed25–100Mbps40–220Mbps5–50Mbps40–220Mbps
Upload speed5–10Mbps8–25Mbps2–10Mbps8–25Mbps
Latency25–60 ms25–60 ms<99 ms<99 ms
Equipment fee (for recommended hardware) $599.00$2,500.00$599.00$2,500.00
Best for Residential households High-demand households (remote workers, serious gamers, big households)RVs, campers, jetsetters, and other nomadsBoats, businesses, emergency response teams, billionaires

Each one of these plans is ideal for a different kind of customer (yes, even that $5,000-a-month plan is right for someone). We’ll do a deeper dive into the pros and cons of Starlink roam vs. Starlink residential plans below. But, if you’re still not convinced that Starlink has a plan that fits your lifestyle, you can use our zip code plan finding tool below to see alternative internet providers.

What about satellite phone service?
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Satellite internet is a powerful tool that has largely eliminated the need for clunky satellite phones. But there are still some great devices out there for serious backcountry hikers and others who are frequently off the beaten trail.

Starlink Mobile deep dive

RVers, backcountry hikers, #vanlifers, digital nomads, and other adventurers, rejoice! Starlink Mobile is here to give you truly fast internet that can go pretty much anywhere—if you can afford it.

There’s a lot to consider with Starlink Mobile service, so let’s get into it, beginning with the difference between in-motion service and regular mobile service.

Starlink Mobile vs. In-Motion

If you’re getting Starlink for RV, a boat, or another mobile home, then you might be wondering if you’ll get a truly seamless connection while you're on the road (or cruising along the coast). The answer to that really depends on how much you’re willing to pay.

If you’re on a standard Starlink Mobile plan, then you can’t actually use the internet while you’re in motion. You have to stop, establish a new location, and then you can use the internet. But, if you upgrade to Mobile Priority, then you’ll get the in-motion feature, so you can stream your Lo-Fi Beats playlist while you’re off-roading or attend a Zoom call while you’re on your fishing boat.

You’ll also need to shell out for the pricey Flat High Performance hardware, which costs $2,500 (yikes!). Here’s a quick breakdown of the two different Starlink Mobile tiers.

PlanMobileMobile Priority
Price$150.00–$200.00/mo. $250.00–$5,000.00/mo.
Features Unlimited Mobile Data inland Portability Pause ServiceUnlimited Mobile, Data inland, Portability, Pause Service, Global Service, In-motion, Ocean Use, Network Priority, Priority Support, plus 50GB–5TB of priority data
Download speed5–50Mbps40–220Mbps
Upload speed2–10Mbps8–25Mbps
Latency<99 ms<99 ms
Equipment fee (for recommended hardware) $599.00$2,500.00

Where can I go with Starlink Mobile?

Starlink is now available all across the United States, including all 50 states, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. All Starlink Mobile customers who reside in the U.S. will be able to use the service throughout the country.

But if you plan to leave the country in which you signed up for the service, then you’ll need to sign up for Mobile Global, which costs $200 a month. If you sign up for any of the Mobile Priority plans, you’ll automatically get global access.

screenshot of high speed internet on the go from starlink

Image source: Screenshot from www.starlink.com

But what exactly does global mean here?

Currently, Starlink operates in 40 countries, including all of North America, most of Europe, and much of Africa. The list of countries where Starlink is available is growing rapidly, but be sure to check about coverage before you travel. (You can learn more about Starlink availability in our article.)

Starlink for boats

Whether you’re an artist crashing on a riverboat or a billionaire vacationing on your yacht, satellite internet is a vital feature of nautical living. An old satellite phone just won’t cut it.

The good news is that Starlink offers a service for boats. The bad news is that Starlink’s maritime plans are some of the most expensive.

graphic of starlink high speed internet plans on water

Image source: Screenshot from www.starlink.com

To get Starlink internet that will work on a boat, you’ll need to sign up for one of the company’s Mobile Priority plans, meaning you’ll be paying at least $250 a month and shelling out over two grand for equipment. That said, your speeds should be great, with at least 50GB of unthrottled high-speed internet.

Signing up and contracts

All of Starlink’s plans—including the Mobile plans—are month-to-month. That means you don’t have to pay a bunch upfront or sign year long service contracts.

While U.S. residents used to have to pay a deposit and get on a waitlist, Starlink recently announced that its service is open to all U.S. customers without a wait. So you can order Starlink Mobile plans tonight, get the equipment in a couple of days, and be online by the weekend.

Because there are no contracts, you can pause your service at any time (if you’re traveling to a country where there is no Starlink service or spending a few months at a home with wired internet, for instance).

Starlink roam speeds and latency

According to our own proprietary data from almost 8,000,000 individual speed tests, Starlink’s average download speed in the United States is 48Mbps. That’s for both Mobile and Standard plans, and it’s plenty of bandwidth for streaming in HD, Zooming into a work meeting, and browsing the web.

What’s even more impressive is Starlink’s low latency. Our same data shows that the average latency for Starlink users in the states is 47 ms. That makes it much better than other satellite internet providers for activities like online gaming.

Remember that several important factors will determine your Starlink speed. For one, your location and dish set up can have a big impact. In-motion connections will likely never reach the same speeds as static ones. Also, while there are no hard data caps for Starlink service, your speeds can be reduced if you’re using a lot of data (unless you pay extra for Priority plans).

Note that in recent months there have been reports that Starlink’s speeds are slowing down in the U.S. While this is concerning, we still think that Starlink is a good choice. Those who want faster speeds should compare Starlink to 5G home internet providers and other mobile internet services, like those offered by Verizon and T-Mobile.

Starlink equipment and set-up

Starlink has two different dish options: the standard and the flat high-performance dish. Which dish you get will depend on your specific plan and needs. In either case, the dish will be sent to you with the other needed equipment in your kit. 

graphic of Starlink Kit box contents

Image source: Screenshot from www.starlink.com

There are also plenty of extra gadgets you can order from Starlink, like a mesh Wi-Fi router and different dish mounts.

Once your equipment arrives, setting up Starlink on your RV, boat, or other vehicle is relatively easy, and you can always use the Starlink app for guidance. The typical Starlink setup process works like this:

  1. Find a clear, unobstructed view of the sky. (The Starlink app can help you find the best placement.)
  2. Plug your Starlink dish into a power source.
  3. Wait while your equipment establishes a connection with the satellite constellation.
  4. Connect to Starlink internet from your laptop, phone, or other device.

If you choose the pricier high-performance dish for Starlink Mobile ($2,500), you will need to mount the equipment to your vehicle or home.

Starlink Residential service deep dive

So that covers everything you need to know about Starlink Mobile. But how does it compare to the residential service? Can you just order the Starlink Standard plan and travel with it anyways? We’ll answer all these questions here.

First of all, let’s talk about the internet performance you can expect with residential Starlink service.

How fast is Starlink residential?

Starlink’s Standard, or residential plans, are just as fast—if not faster—than the equivalent Mobile plans. On the cheapest plans, you’ll get between 25 and 100Mbps download speeds (though our own data says the U.S. average is 48Mbps).

If you’re willing to pay more for a Priority plan, you’ll get anywhere from 40 to 220GB of priority data, which is faster and more reliable than standard data (this seems to be especially true now that Starlink is serving more U.S. customers).

Here’s a look at the differences between the two plan tiers.

PlanStandardPriority
Price$120.00/mo. $140.00–$500.00/mo.
Features Unlimited dataUnlimited standard data plus 40GB–2TB of priority data.
Download speed25–100Mbps40–220Mbps
Upload speed5–10Mbps8–25Mbps
Latency25–60 ms25–60 ms
Equipment fee (for recommended hardware) $599.00$2,500.00

If you like the speeds that Starlink gives you but the prices still seem kind of steep, you can see other internet plans available in your area using our handy zip code plan finding tool right here.

Can you use Starlink residential internet for RV living?

So you’re taking the RV on a road trip to a national park. Can you just bring your residential Starlink dish with you to get mobile internet? It should work anywhere, right?

Wrong. If you’ve signed up for a fixed satellite internet plan (like the Standard or Priority plan) from Starlink, it is against the terms of service to use it at a new location without notifying the company and changing your plan accordingly. Breaking this rule could get you banned from the service.

If Starlink Mobile plans aren’t right for your budget, you can always use your phone to create a mobile internet network or check out other mobile internet services.

Which is better, Starlink Mobile or Standard?

Here’s the long and short of it: Starlink’s Standard service is cheaper than the mobile Starlink Roam service, but you can only use it at one fixed address. Meanwhile, Starlink’s Mobile plans let you have internet on-the-go, all around the globe, but it costs a pretty penny.

Both Starlink Standard and Mobile have options to upgrade to priority data, which gives you faster and more consistent speed, as well as other perks.

At the end of the day, you have to decide for yourself which one (if any) of these Starlink plans is the best for you and your nomadic lifestyle.

Methodology

Before writing this review of Starlink’s different internet services, we conducted rigorous research. We looked at all of the company’s data about its plans, equipment, and policies (we even read the fine print). We looked at third party analysis, read many customer reviews, and consulted our own proprietary data taken from 7,904,805 speed tests taken nationally throughout September 2022 to September 2023.

We hope that our final product has helped you find the perfect satellite internet plan.

Starlink Mobile vs. Starlink Residential FAQ

Is Starlink roam as fast as residential?

Starlink’s Roam or Mobile plans have a slightly lower speed range than its standard residential plans (5–50Mbps vs. 25–100Mbps). But there are many factors that go into your speeds with Starlink, including location and set up.

Starlink roam customers can always pay extra to get priority data that will go as fast or faster than the standard internet it offers to residential customers.

What is mobile regional Starlink?

Mobile Regional is a plan that lets you get internet on-the-go through Starlink’s high-speed satellite internet service. You can travel anywhere within the country where you originally signed up and still get service (as long as you have the proper equipment and set up).

If you want to travel outside of the country where you signed up, you need to upgrade to Starlink’s Mobile Global plan.

Can you use Starlink for Cell phones?

Believe it or not, your iPhone or Android phone is likely already hooked up to a satellite network. But Starlink is something else.

While the company hasn’t yet launched a direct-to-cell service yet, it is planning to do so next year. That said, Starlink customers should be able to connect their cell phones to Starlink internet via a Wi-Fi network.

Easton Smith
Written by
Easton Smith