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Starlink is slowly starting to spread their wings globally, with a recent beta launched in Canada after their initial launch in the US.

Let's assume I buy the antenna/dish and their service in Canada. If I decide to travel to the US for a holiday, can I take the equipment with me and use the same service there? More generally, once Starlink spreads globally, would it be possible to take my local product wherever I go and hook into their internet service wherever I land? Or is there something in their contract/setup that prohibits that kind of global travel use?

This question was originally asked on Space.SE (Portable Starlink antennas), but may be a better fit here as it relates more to travel than space exploration.

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  • I expect them to offer a service like that eventually, possibly with different pricing tiers but it will still have limitations: there are countries where satellite phones/data services are forbidden or must be routed through local ground stations/use a locally registered number.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 28 '20 at 18:36
  • Is there a map of each cell to determine how far one can take the starlink terminal Feb 25 at 18:34
  • @JosephDeAlmeida: I doubt it, but I'm not sure. The cells are probably somewhat overlapping to avoid discontinuities in service, but would require you to connect with SpaceX if you ever decide to move somewhere else, even just a different neighbourhood.
    – Werner
    Feb 25 at 19:20
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Update: As of April 2020, Musk tweeted that the service will be "fully mobile later this year." The company has announced, but not yet released, a terminal that permits use on moving vehicles. At this time, the terms of service restrict use to one location: "for use exclusively at the address you provided in your Order." Given the terminal's size and power requirements, there are still likely to be a number of constraints on portability for travel use, though service for RVs seems likely once this is available.

This was addressed in the Q&A Starlink recently did on Reddit:

Right now, we can only deliver service at the address you sign up with on starlink.com You might get lucky if you try to use Starlink in nearby locations, but service quality may be worse.

Mobility options - including moving your Starlink to different service addresses (or places that don't even have addresses!) - is coming once we are able to increase our coverage by launching more satellites & rolling out new software.

The beta service is currently only offered to people "between 44 and 52 degrees north latitude, which excludes a good portion of the United States. I believe this is supposed to expand as the constellation reaches its full size.

There are also some pretty stringent requirements around avoiding obstructions between the dish and the satellites, and the terminal equipment doesn't look particularly portable, so there would be some practical issues around trying to transport it and finding a suitable place to set it up with a view of the sky that meets the requirements.

In short, it may not work for a number of reasons right now. They say they plan to support more portability in the future, which may or may not work out.

It is possible to get portable satellite internet service on networks like HughesNet (purchased through specialized resellers that cater to RVers I believe, and not really in Canada) or (more portable with a vast coverage area but at extraordinary cost) with a BGAN terminal, Inmarsat, and there are vendors that will rent them out with service for travelers, but the costs are high and the speeds quite slow.

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    Between 44 and 52 degrees covers a pretty big chunk of Europe - Stockholm, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Vienna, Milan. Would be nice to use it while hiking in the Alps :)
    – JonathanReez
    Nov 28 '20 at 7:48
  • @JonathanReez From what I understand, to get service the satellite(s) need to be in sight from your location but also of a ground station, so I suppose it won’t work in Europe at all for now. Also the antenna has a diameter of 50 cm, not exactly something you want to carry while hiking.
    – jcaron
    Nov 28 '20 at 10:33
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    @JonathanReez Don't forget to pack along your 100W power supply - that's a number I recently saw for powering a Starlink ground station. I would suggest that you employ a team sherpas to carry around the 500VA to 1000VA batteries needed for for the system. Employ enough of them and you could get them rotating the batteries to places where the batteries could be charged in order to have continuous Starlink operation in the boonies. Either that or go solar, but those pesky Alps may not allow for a suitable, portable solar setup.
    – Peter M
    Nov 28 '20 at 17:11
  • @jcaron: The ground station you're referring to, is that the dish? Sure, my intent was never to hike from (say) Canada to (say) the US or abroad, but ultimately to stash that thing in a travel suitcase (maybe) so I can use it wherever I land.
    – Werner
    Nov 28 '20 at 17:57
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    @Werner Yes, the dish itself is actually 59cm in diameter. The base mounting pole is also integrated into the dish (which seems to contain electronics and motors for tracking the satellites). By the looks of it you'll probably need a suitcase just for the antenna and associated external systems for it. There are already a bunch of tear down videos on youtube (such as this one )
    – Peter M
    Nov 28 '20 at 19:12
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In addition to Zach's answer that referenced the Q&A on Reddit, the Starlink Beta FAQ has this to say about moving the base station

Can I travel with Starlink, or move it to a different address?

Starlink satellites are scheduled to send internet down to all users within a designated area on the ground. This designated area is referred to as a cell.

Your Starlink is assigned to a single cell. If you move your Starlink outside of its assigned cell, a satellite will not be scheduled to serve your Starlink and you will not receive internet. This is constrained by geometry and is not arbitrary geofencing.


Edit - New information from SpaceX

This week (8th March 2021) SpaceX filed that a Starlink terminal could be deployed on vehicles. See this story about that filing.

However a lot of people took this to mean even on things as small as passenger cars, however Elon corrected this is a tweet saying:

Not connecting Tesla cars to Starlink, as our terminal is much too big. This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs.

So in the future you will be able to use your starlink device on your RV as you drive across the US, or on your boat as you cruise the intercostal waterway. But no indication was given as to when this might be possible.

Edit - More information from Elon Musk

I saw in this article that Elon tweeted this week (15th of April 2021)

Yeah, should be fully mobile later this year, so you can move it anywhere or use it on an RV or truck in motion. We need a few more satellite launches to achieve compete coverage & some key software upgrades.

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Tesla’s have a 70-100kWh battery in them.
Should power the base station for a good long time. Good for camping.
Not so much for hiking, though.

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    Unfortunate though if you run down your battery powering your satellite base station, and don't have enough energy left to drive back to civilization. Feb 10 at 22:18

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