Starlink’s internet-from-space service continues to expand to new use cases with the launch of Starlink Maritime. What started in the home before expanding to stationary RVs is now available for boats on the move, at a cost of $5,000 a month. SpaceX is targeting merchant vessels, oil rigs, and wealthy owners of superyachts with the service.
Starlink Maritime also requires a one-time $10,000 purchase of two ruggedized high performance Starlink dishes which ship in about two weeks, according to the US order page. By comparison, the hardware for Starlink’s Residential and RV services costs $599 and includes a single (smaller) “Dishy McFlatface” (as the dish is known to fans), with monthly subscriptions of $110 for the home service or $135 for vanlifers. Importantly, using the RV service in motion is not allowed and will void the warranty.
Like Starlink RV, a Starlink Maritime subscription can be paused during the months you don’t need it. It’s also offered with no data cap like all Starlink subscriptions, but SpaceX does warn against “excessive use of network services.”
SpaceX posted a side-by-side comparison of live video footage captured on a SpaceX drone ship. On the right is footage captured over Starlink Maritime versus some unnamed service that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk claims costs $150,000 a month for “a much worse connection.”
Subscribers to Maritime can expect a mixed bag of performance compared to Starlink Residential and RV services. Maritime speeds of 100-350Mbps down and 20-40Mbps up are a little faster than residential thanks to those dual terminals, but latency is worse at <99ms compared to 20-40ms for others. Even then, those are just “performance goals” according to the fine print. When you're paying SpaceX $5,000 each month for Maritime then you might expect a guaranteed level of service, but at least you won't have to contend with trees blocking the skies.
Starlink Maritime coverage includes the coastal waters around the US (including the Great Lakes), European waters from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, the waters around New Zealand and most of Australia, and parts of South America. More expansion is coming in Q4 with the launch of additional satellites. SpaceX currently has more than 2,400 Starlink satellites in low- to medium-Earth orbit supporting 400,000 users.
The launch of Starlink Maritime comes a week after the FCC authorized Starlink’s use on vehicles in motion. The Maritime service includes an FCC statement about possible interference when operating in the 12.2-12.7GHz band — the workhorse frequencies used by Starlink that Dish Network wants to use to offer 5G services.
“Starlink’s in-motion operations, including for vessels, must accept any interference received from both current and future services authorized in the band – even if such interference causes undesirable operations for Starlink Services and its customers.”
That’s rather ominous given the current spat between SpaceX and Dish. SpaceX says that Dish’s plans for 5G over 12GHz would “make Starlink unusable.” Dish says SpaceX is lying.