Starlink is adding a 1TB data cap for usage during peak hours

You'll have to pay a premium if you want guaranteed performance.

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Starlink raised its prices this spring, and now it's increasing the costs for its most demanding users. As The Verge reports, the SpaceX-run satellite internet provider is instituting a 1TB "Priority Access" monthly cap for data use between 7AM and 11PM beginning in December. Cross that limit and you'll spend the rest of the month relegated to "Basic Access" that, like with some phone carriers, deprioritizes your data when the network is busy. You might not notice much of a difference in typical situations, but this won't thrill you if you depend on sustained performance.

Service can get expensive if you insist on full performance around the clock. You'll pay 25 cents per gigabyte of priority data. As Reddit user Nibbloid pointed out, the math doesn't quite add up. It will cost you another $250 to get an extra 1TB of data — it would be cheaper to add a second subscription, at least if you don't mind the cost of an extra terminal. RV, Portability and "Best Effort" users also don't have any Priority Access.

Other users face tougher restrictions. Fixed business service has peak-hour caps ranging from 500GB to 3TB, with extra full-speed data costing $1 per gigabyte. Mobility users have no Priority Access for recreational use, while commercial and Premium/Maritime users have respective 1TB and 5TB caps. Those higher-end users will pay $2 for every gigabyte of priority data they need.

The justifications will sound familiar if you've dealt with data caps from Comcast and other land-based internet providers. Starlink maintains that it has to balance supply with demand to provide fast service to the "greatest number of people." This is ostensibly to keep usage in check on a "finite resource."

The decision to cap users comes as SpaceX has called for government help to fund Starlink service in Ukraine at a claimed cost of nearly $400 million per year. While Musk has said SpaceX will continue to pay regardless of assistance, it's clear the company is worried about expenses as demand increases.