Starlink’s Internet-from-Space service continues to expand into new use cases with the launch of Starlink Maritime. What started at home before expanding to stationary RVs is now available for boats on the move, costing $5,000 per month. SpaceX is targeting merchant ships, oil rigs and wealthy superyacht owners with the service.
Starlink Maritime also requires a one-time purchase of $10,000 of of them heavy-duty, high-performance Starlink dishes that ship in about two weeks, according to the US order page. By comparison, 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 door-to-door service or $135 for vanlifers. It is important to note that use of the RV service in motion is not permitted and will void the warranty.
Like Starlink RV, a Starlink Maritime subscription can be suspended for months when you don’t need it. It also comes with no data caps like all Starlink subscriptions, but SpaceX warns of “excessive use of network services.”
SpaceX has released a side-by-side comparison of live video footage captured on a SpaceX drone. On the right, footage captured on Starlink Maritime compared to an unnamed service that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says costs $150,000 a month for “a much worse connection.”
Maritime subscribers can expect mixed performance compared to Starlink Residential and RV services. Maritime speeds of 100-350 Mbps down and 20-40 Mbps up are a little faster than residential through these two terminals, but latency is worse at <99 ms compared to 20-40 ms for others. Even then, these are just “performance targets” according to the fine print. When you pay SpaceX $5,000 each month for Maritime, you can expect a guaranteed level of service, but at least you won't have to deal with sky-blocking trees.
Starlink Maritime coverage includes coastal waters around the United States (including the Great Lakes), European waters from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, waters around New Zealand and most of Australia, and parts of South America. More expansion is coming in the fourth quarter 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 cleared Starlink for use on moving vehicles. The maritime service includes a statement from the FCC on possible interference when operating in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band – the working frequencies used by Starlink which Dish Network wants to use to offer 5G services.
“Starlink’s in-motion operations, including ships, must accept any interference received from current and future licensed services in the band – even if such interference causes undesirable operations for Starlink Services and its customers.”
That’s rather concerning given the current spat between SpaceX and Dish. SpaceX says Dish’s plans for 5G over 12GHz “would render Starlink unusable.” Dish says SpaceX is lying.