Starlink’s satellite internet service will be introducing a data cap for Canadian and U.S. users beginning in December 2022, the company announced in emails to its subscribers.
In an email obtained by IT World Canada, the company informed its residential internet subscribers that it will be introducing a fair use policy that will throttle its customers’ speeds when they exceed a capacity allowance.
Starting in December, the Starlink service will provision 1TB of faster “Priority Access” for all residential subscribers, and switch to the slower “Basic Access” once it’s been exhausted.
Starlink’s fair use policy attributed the limit to the finite satellite capacity. The company noted that residential subscribers can purchase additional Priority Access for C$0.32 per gigabyte.
“Customers who exceed 1 TB of data use on a monthly basis (currently < 10 per cent of users) will automatically be switched to Basic Access for the remainder of the billing cycle, which means their data usage will be deprioritized during times of network congestion, resulting in slower speeds,” the email read.
Starlink Business subscribers can choose between 500GB, 1TB, or 3TB of Priority Access, and have the option of paying C$1.28 per gigabyte after reaching the data cap.
The letter added that data used between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. will not count towards the data cap. Starlink directed customers to monitor their usage on their account page.
SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet has garnered much popularity, amassing more than 90,000 subscribers in its beta phase alone. Residents living in rural areas were attracted to the service’s higher speeds compared to what was available to them from their local internet providers. After slowly expanding its global rollout, on May 19, 2022 SpaceX announced that it had more than 400,000 subscribers worldwide.
As of September 2022, Starlink has launched more than 3,000 low earth orbit (LEO) satellites to deliver service. The company wants to eventually create a massive constellation consisting of 40,000 satellites to beam internet across the entire globe.
But the service isn’t without its controversies. The satellites could pose a collision hazard with other objects in space, as China had once complained to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Moreover, people wondered if the constellation, even in its final form, could truly deliver the promised speed and capacity to all of its users.
Despite these concerns, Starlink has expanded its service to the northern parts of Canada. The CBC reported that people in Nunavut and Northwest Territories who had ordered the service have begun receiving emails that their orders are being processed.