We've been using Starlink (Portability) for about six months now, all over the place. Quality and speeds seem to be all over the place, so when we got another Starlink for our Cabin, we were curious how the residential and portable versions stack up!

UPDATE: There have been some questions about the efficacy of the tests, given each phone was hitting different test servers… I think the different servers had little effect on the tests for two reasons: First, those servers and the internet backbone from Starlink ground stations are designed to handle MUCH faster traffic than the sub-100Mbps tests I was running. It might affect latency more than throughput, but that wasn't what I was focused on. Second, you can see in the test I did at 19:18 (after changing the address on the portable service) that the same servers are still being used and the speed tests are identical. Which is even more proof the throttle was service address based. The test was neither scientific nor perfect, but I believe it was fair and proved Starlink Portable was throttled compared to the Residential (at residence) service.

Throttled!

Throttling, also known as deprioritization, happens when an internet provider prefers one connection's traffic over another. This is usually outlined in terms of service from the provider and is designed to ensure service levels based on whatever criteria the provider sees fit.

In the case of Starlink, there are essentially three types of non-business services.

Residential

Starlink Residential service has “Normal” priority and cannot be moved outside the user's service location.

A feature called “Portability” can be added to residential service, which allows the system to be moved out of the home area to any area with service. However, when outside the home area, service is deprioritized in favor of residential service users in that area.

RV

Starlink RV service is essentially the same as Residential + Portability in that it can be used anywhere there is service. It is also deprioritized.

Where the RV version stands apart is its ability to be turned off with no monthly fees when not using the service.

The downside to the RV version is that no home area can be defined, and thus, it will always be deprioritized!

How Much Deprioritization?

Since we have Residential service at our Cabin and Residential plus Portability for the RV, we tested them head-to-head!

The result was very surprising, showing the Portable version was throttled a LOT! Most of the tests showed a TEN-FOLD decrease in throughput! WOW!

Recommendations

Knowing how much deprioritization is going on for the RV and Portable versions, it's definitely a big benefit to get the Residential version and attempt to change addresses for each move to get “normal” priority when possible.

Of course, if you need to shut off service periodically, the RV version is the only one with that ability. But, for everything else, we recommend getting residential plus portability. See the video for information on how to order. We also have an FAQ here.

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