Starlink and Starlink RV are two satellite internet services from SpaceX that provide high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe. Both services utilize SpaceX‘s constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit to beam internet access to users on the ground.
While Starlink and Starlink RV share many similarities, there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand when deciding which service is right for you. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll compare Starlink and Starlink RV side-by-side, examine the pros and cons of each, and help you determine which satellite internet service is the better fit.
Key Differences Between Starlink and Starlink RV
Before we dive into the details, here‘s a quick overview of the key differences between standard Starlink and Starlink RV:
Speed: Starlink offers faster speeds, with 100-200 Mbps download speeds, compared to 50-150 Mbps for Starlink RV.
Price: Starlink costs $110/month with a $599 equipment fee, while Starlink RV costs $135/month with the same $599 equipment fee. However, Starlink RV can be paused and reactivated, so you only pay for the months you use it.
Availability: Starlink has waitlists in many areas, while Starlink RV is immediately available without a waitlist.
Priority Access: Starlink gets highest priority on the network. Starlink RV gets deprioritized in congested areas.
Portability: Both are portable, but Starlink RV is designed for use while in motion, like in an RV or boat. Starlink is optimized for use at a fixed location.
Now let‘s take a deeper look at how Starlink and Starlink RV compare across various factors:
Speed is one of the most significant differences between Starlink and Starlink RV.
Starlink offers download speeds between 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps for most users, with some reporting speeds up to 300 Mbps during ideal conditions. The upload speed ranges from 10-40 Mbps.
Starlink RV, on the other hand, offers download speeds between 50 Mbps and 150 Mbps, with uploads between 5-20 Mbps. The max speed for Starlink RV is about half of Starlink‘s top speed.
Why the difference in speed? Starlink gets priority access on SpaceX‘s network, so users get the full performance capabilities. With Starlink RV, you may experience slower speeds in congested areas or at peak times as residential Starlink customers get priority.
For most basic internet activities like web browsing, video streaming, video calls, etc., Starlink RV provides sufficient performance. But Starlink‘s extra speed headroom provides better support for data-intensive tasks, multiple connected devices, ultra HD video streaming, and low latency online gaming.
Starlink also provides a more consistent, stable connection. Performance degrades more noticeably for Starlink RV users in congested areas.
Both Starlink and Starlink RV incur a one-time hardware cost of $599 for the satellite antenna, router, cables, and mounts.
For the monthly service fee, Starlink costs $110/month. Starlink RV costs $135/month, billed monthly.
The key difference is that Starlink RV can be paused and reactivated at any time, so you only pay for the months you actually use the service. Starlink requires a continuous monthly subscription.
This flexibility makes Starlink RV appealing for RVers, seasonal users, and anyone who doesn‘t need internet year-round. You could use Starlink RV for a few months of travel each year and not have to pay for the remaining months when you don‘t need it.
Over an extended period of use, Starlink works out to be more affordable since the monthly fee is lower. But Starlink RV can make more economic sense for intermittent or seasonal use cases.
One of the biggest appeals of Starlink RV is that it‘s immediately available without any waitlist or backorder. You can order it today and have it delivered within 1-2 weeks in most areas.
Standard Starlink still has extensive waitlists, with most new orders getting pushed back to 2023 or later before delivery. Some users have waited 6 months or more.
So if you need satellite internet immediately, Starlink RV is your only option. Residential Starlink has very limited availability for new customers until more satellites are launched and more capacity comes online.
That said, Starlink is still continually expanding service. Wait times are getting shorter in some areas. And with new satellite launches happening frequently, availability is improving over time.
Both Starlink and Starlink RV are designed to be portable and transportable. The satellite antenna and wifi router only require a power source to set up and connect.
However, Starlink RV is optimized for use during motion, like in a moving vehicle, boat, or airplane. It has a built-in motion sensor and actuators that allow it to actively orient itself while on the move, without interruption to the internet signal.
Standard Starlink works best in a fixed location. It doesn‘t have the motion tracking capabilities of Starlink RV. Using standard Starlink on the go will likely result in interrupted internet connectivity as the antenna loses connection with the satellites overhead.
So RVers, cruisers, pilots, and other transportation uses will want Starlink RV. For fixed homes, seasonal cabins, etc., standard Starlink is ideal. Both can be easily moved for relocation or travel but Starlink RV is engineered for uninterrupted connectivity anywhere.
Many satellite internet providers have restrictive data caps, limiting how much you can use each month before your speeds get throttled or you incur overage charges.
Thankfully, neither Starlink version imposes data caps. Both residential Starlink and Starlink RV offer unlimited data without throttling or overages.
The only limit is that users consuming over 1TB of data per month may get deprioritized during congested periods, but there are no strict limits or additional fees. 1TB equals about 100 hours of 4K video streaming, so this threshold accommodates very heavy usage.
For most users, the unlimited data allowance means not having to worry about rationing usage or tracking data consumption. You can stream, download, surf and engage with the internet freely without limits. It‘s a major benefit compared to other satellite internet providers.
Starlink RV users are more likely to experience inconsistent speeds and performance interruptions compared to residential Starlink. Why?
Standard Starlink gets top priority on SpaceX‘s network. So users receive the satellite capacity needed for maximum speeds and network availability. This allows for consistent, uninterrupted performance – the speed and reliability you‘d expect from a good home internet connection.
But Starlink RV gets deprioritized, meaning if there is congestion from standard Starlink users in an area, the Starlink RV service may receive reduced capacity to maintain performance for residential subscribers.
Think of it like flying economy vs first class. First class passengers get served first and economy passengers may experience longer waits if the plane is full. Similarly, Starlink gets "first class" priority on the network while Starlink RV users may encounter more variability.
The result is Starlink RV speeds and connectivity can fluctuate more noticeably during peak congestion. Performance is less consistent overall compared to standard Starlink.
However, Starlink RV should still deliver decent internet access for basic needs. And if traveling through rural areas with fewer Starlink users, you may enjoy great uninterrupted performance on par with residential service. But expect a "rougher flight" in busier areas.
Installation and Equipment
The installation process and satellite dish equipment are identical between standard Starlink and Starlink RV.
The satellite antenna or "dishy" as users affectionately call it, is compact and portable. It requires a clear view of the sky to connect and some basic mounting, but no permanent installation. The kit comes with tripods and roof/surface mounts to situate the dish.
Inside, you get the wifi router to broadcast internet through the dish and power supply required to run the system. All hardware and cables are included in the $599 equipment cost.
Setup is straightforward enough for most users to install themselves without needing a technician. Starlink provides handy setup instructions and an app to help point the dish in the optimal direction. Expect about 30-60 minutes to get everything in place and connected on initial setup.
The portability and ease of installation make both Starlink versions solid options for DIY setup, whether parked in your driveway or moving around the country. No need to schedule installation appointments.
Starlink and Starlink RV both come with access to Starlink‘s customer support resources. You can get assistance via:
24/7 online chat – Get instant answers to questions through Starlink‘s chat portal.
Support tickets – Open a ticket for issues requiring more troubleshooting.
Phone support – Call Starlink‘s customer service line for live assistance.
Response times vary from immediate chat replies to 1-2 days for support tickets. But users report Starlink‘s customer service is generally responsive and helpful resolving problems.
Given both Starlink services come from the same parent company, you can expect the same caliber of customer service regardless of which you choose.
The coverage footprint is identical for both Starlink and Starlink RV since they utilize the same network of satellites.
Most of the continental U.S., Canada, parts of Europe, Australia, Chile, and southern Brazil are covered. Areas near the polar regions have limited or no coverage currently.
Starlink is continually launching new satellites into their orbital shell to expand coverage globally. They have plans to achieve near global coverage by the end of 2023 as more satellites go online.
Some parts of the world still have no access, but both Starlink and Starlink RV will work in any areas where standard Starlink has live coverage today. You can check availability for a specific address during checkout or on Starlink‘s website.
Pros and Cons Compared
To recap the key benefits and downsides of each service:
- Faster maximum speeds up to 200+ Mbps
- Most consistent performance and reliability
- Lower monthly cost at $110/month
- First priority on network with dedicated capacity
- Waitlist and limited availability currently
- Not optimized for use on the move
- Available immediately without waitlist
- Can pause and reactivate service monthly
- Built for use during motion with no interruption
- More affordable for seasonal/intermittent use
- Slower max speeds up to 150 Mbps
- Deprioritized during congestion leading to inconsistency
- Higher monthly price at $135/month
Is Starlink or Starlink RV a Better Value?
For most users needing satellite internet for a home or fixed location, standard Starlink provides better overall value. You get faster and more reliable speeds for regular residential and business use.
But for RVers, cruisers, seasonal users, and anyone wanting flexibility or needing satellite internet right away, Starlink RV is arguably the better option. The mobility, ability to pause service, and no waitlist make it a versatile choice despite the network prioritization drawbacks.
Here are a few examples to help determine which is a better fit:
- For a fixed home in the country, go with regular Starlink for superior performance.
- For a seasonal cabin only used part of the year, Starlink RV with service pausing may be more economical.
- For full-time RV travel, Starlink RV offers continuous connectivity on the road.
- For a boat spending long periods offshore, only Starlink RV will maintain a reliable link.
- For a small business in a rural area, Starlink provides faster speeds and greater reliability.
Look at your specific usage – will you stay in one place or move around? Do you need lightning fast speeds or just basic web access? How soon do you need service? Factoring in these considerations will help reveal whether Starlink or Starlink RV better matches your needs and situation.
The Future of Starlink and Starlink RV
What does the future look like for Starlink‘s satellite internet services? There are a few key developments in store:
Expanding coverage: Starlink will continue launching new satellites into orbit, up to 42,000 by mid-2027. This will bring global internet coverage online.
Increasing speeds: As the satellite constellation grows, SpaceX says users can expect download speeds between 250 Mbps and 500 Mbps. Latency should also decrease for faster responses.
More capacity: Adding satellites adds network capacity. That means less congestion, fewer interruptions at peak times, and more consistent speeds overall.
Lower costs: Starlink plans to lower the equipment and monthly service prices over time as launch costs decrease and the subscriber base grows. Internet for underserved communities will also become more accessible.
RV enhancements: Improvements like dual modems for redundancy during motion, WiFi hotspot capabilities, and streamlined roof mounts tailored for RVs will enhance the Starlink RV experience.
Airline and maritime service: SpaceX is developing new Starlink antennas suited for planes, cruise ships, cargo vessels, and other modes of transportation.
Starlink‘s mega-constellation of satellites promises to deliver game-changing internet access worldwide. As the network continues to advance, speeds, coverage, and reliability will only increase for both Starlink platforms.
The Bottom Line
In summary, here‘s a quick rundown of key points comparing residential Starlink and Starlink RV:
Starlink offers faster maximum download/upload speeds up to 200/40 Mbps. Starlink RV provides 50-150/5-20 Mbps.
Starlink costs $110/month plus a $599 equipment fee. Starlink RV is $135/month plus $599 equipment. Starlink RV lets you pause/reactivate monthly.
Starlink has extensive waitlists in many areas. Starlink RV is immediately available without a waitlist.
Starlink gets priority network access. Starlink RV may experience congestion during peak times resulting in slower speeds.
Both are portable, but Starlink RV is engineered for use during motion without service disruptions.
Each service covers the same areas – Starlink‘s active coverage footprint. More countries will come online over time.
For most fixed home uses, Starlink delivers better performance and value overall. But Starlink RV‘s flexibility and lack of waitlist make it appealing for intermittent, mobile, or urgent needs.
Whichever you choose, Starlink offers a much-needed satellite internet option with impressive speeds, unlimited data, and competitive pricing. As SpaceX continues expanding network capacity, both services will provide an even more compelling internet alternative in places underserved by terrestrial providers.