Subscribers to Elon Musk’s Starlink internet service can now carry their connectivity with them to remote areas as part of a new portability feature that the company announced on Wednesday. In an email to its customers, SpaceX’s Starlink rolled out the new feature for a fee of $US25 ($35) a month, in addition to the service’s regular $US110 ($153) monthly subscription fee.
The portability feature would allow Starlink’s customers to temporarily move their internet satellite dishes to a different location, so long as it’s within the same continent and in an area where the company already provides coverage. Users would also have to disassemble and carry around the 19-inch wide Dishy (the name Starlink gives to its satellite dish), then set it up anew after each move in order to start receiving internet again. That’s because Starlink still doesn’t support internet on-the-go, which means that users won’t be able to stay connected while driving. Instead, they would have to wait till they arrive at their destination to set up the equipment.
Aside from those caveats, the service promises the ability to take high-speed connectivity to remote areas with you, which could open up a whole new realm of possible mobile offices for people working remotely, or just a steady connection for those living that sweet van life.
Starlink connectivity is still limited in that it requires a clear view of the sky so that its Dishy can connect to the satellite megaconstellation currently being built out in low-Earth orbit. Following Musk’s tradition of setting lofty goals for his companies, SpaceX is hoping to launch a total of 42,000 satellites to orbit in order to provide broadband internet to distant parts of the world. So far, SpaceX has sent up 2,335 satellites.
Currently, the satellites are beaming down connectivity in parts of the U.S. and Canada, as well as New Zealand, some parts of Australia, the United Kingdom, as well as some European countries like Spain and France. But the company is hoping to expand to the rest of the world by the end of the year. In April, Starlink announced its first partnership with a major airline, Hawaiian Airlines, to provide in-flight Wi-Fi.