Elon Musk's satellite internet service is making more news after its data cap, due to be implemented this month, got pushed back to an April start.
Customers of Elon Musk's satellite internet service, Starlink, had barely gotten a chance to adjust to the recent disclosure that an impending terabyte data cap, which was supposed to be enacted this February, would arrive "no earlier than April 2023." Now some have also learned that April will bring a rate increase as well.
Per an email recently sent to customers, Starlink announced its monthly service will increase by $10, to $120 per month, for customers in areas with limited capacity, and will decrease by $20, to $90 monthly, for those in areas with excess capacity. For existing customers, the change is scheduled to begin April 24. For new subscribers, however, the higher rate is effective immediately.
What's unclear is just how expansive the "limited capacity" areas are. Do they correspond to all "waitlist" areas on the Starlink map? Similarly, we don't know how many customers should expect their monthly rate to decrease.
Locating local internet providers
CNET contacted Starlink for comment on these changes but hasn't yet heard back.
Even taking the price increase into account, Starlink is still more than competitive in the satellite internet space. While HughesNet offers a cheaper tier with a regular rate of $75 per month, that also comes with maximum download speeds of 25 megabits per second. Starlink averaged more than double that download speed at 53Mbps, per Ookla speed test data from the latter half of 2022.
Another competitor, Viasat, does have a handful of markets where it offers download speeds over 75Mbps, but the regular monthly rate for those plans ranges from $200 to $400. That's much more expensive than Starlink, even with the pending increase.
There's another element in Starlink's favor too. Customers who are unsatisfied with the service or the price increase can cancel without penalty. If they cancel within the first 30 days of service, they'll get a full refund of what they paid. If they cancel within the first year, they'll get a partial refund of $250.
HughesNet and Viasat customers are under a two-year contract, and any cancellation before then results in early termination fees that can be as high as $400.