SpaceX customers have recently shared screenshots online of an e-mail they received inviting them to try out the Starlink’s new Global Roaming service, which allows them to connect to the internet “from almost anywhere around the world”.
Global Roaming makes use of Starlink’s inter-satellite links, referred to space lasers, to provide connectivity around the globe, the e-mail explains. While SpaceX promises the typical high speed and low-latency service Starlink provides, the company warns that, because this is new technology, users may experience brief periods of poor connectivity or none at all, but guarantees these will “improve dramatically over time”.
The Global Roaming service costs $200 per month, almost double the $110 monthly fee Starlink charges for its regular Residential service. The one-time hardware cost of $600 is the same, for which users receive a kit comprising a dish to connect to the satellites, a tripod, cables and a WiFi router. At this time, payment for Global Roaming is only available in US Dollars and people based outside the States are also responsible for covering possible customs and import taxes.
What sparked interest however was the fact that people who live in countries where Starlink is still pending governmental approval also received the invitation e-mail, which states the services are contingent to regulatory approvals, linking to a world map that shows where Elon Musk’s satellites are approved or not.
“I believe that’s a way for Starlink to get people to use the service worldwide, without having to fight with (government) approval”, a Starlink waitlist customer who received the invitation told PCMag.
In October last year, Musk revealed in a tweet that Starlink was loosing about $20 million per month, mostly due to maintenance costs and especially after offering its service for free in Ukraine after Russia’s invasion.
Starlink currently has more than 3,000 satellites in low-earth orbit, creating a constellation designed to reach customers in every corner of the world. Because they can communicate directly with each other, they are able to provide much faster connectivity than regular internet services.
In October 2022, Musk launched the Starlink Aviation branch, created to eventually provide high-speed Wi-Fi on planes. In June the same year, Royal Caribbean sent a letter to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking them to “expeditiously” process the approval of Starlink to operate on moving vehicles so they could use the services aboard their ships.