Various types of internet connection technologies make it possible today for just about anyone to use the world wide web whenever they want.
One of the not-so-popular options (but very useful in some situations) for internet access is satellite-based.
The service provider uses satellites that are orbiting into space, then sends an internet signal to them. The signal then bounces down to subscribers, allowing them to get online even in areas where it’s not possible to run cables.
The satellite internet subscriber needs to have a satellite dish connected to a modem or router device which will distribute the Internet packets to the home network.
Though there are a lot of benefits to satellite internet, there are cons as well. It’s important to be aware of both before making a decision whether this type of internet access is right for you.
Satellite internet usually competes with cellular internet access using 4G/LTE technologies, so many people have the dilemma which one is the best for them.
Let’s see the Pros and Cons of satellite internet to help you make an informed decision.
Advantages of Satellite Internet
Available Just About Anywhere
Satellite internet can be accessed almost anywhere. There are homes that are too far from the city, so they don’t have access to cable or fiber optic internet yet.
In these areas, satellite is a great option, as it allows them to use the internet without the high cost of running cable from the neighboring town.
Since the satellites in space are all around the world, almost anyone has access to satellite internet, even if they can’t access any other options.
Do not depend on ground infrastructure
There are no cable cuts or problems due to failed telecommunication or networking systems of the Internet Service Provider. As long as your dish is aligned with the satellite properly, then you have internet connectivity.
Faster than Some Connections
Dial-up internet or ADSL runs through phone lines, so it’s available in areas that may not have cable or other types of internet such as fiber optic.
Commonly used in the early days of the internet, it’s great for getting information but too slow for watching videos, working online, and more.
Satellite works in these areas, too, and it’s much faster than dial-up or ADSL. Those who have been on dial-up or ADSL and are looking for a cost-effective way to get faster speeds may want to consider satellite internet.
Note that satellite internet speeds range from 25Mbps to 100 Mbps but can go up to 250 Mbps or more with some providers (such as Starlink).
Progressing and Improving Fast
Satellite internet is becoming more popular, so internet providers are continuously looking into ways to improve it. Technology is also advancing rapidly, the number of satellites that can be used for the internet is increasing, and there is more being done to improve the user’s experience whenever they go online.
Improvements include more satellites to cover more users, faster connection speeds, better reliability even in poor weather and lower latency. This growth is expected to continue far into the future, so users can expect their connection to improve over time.
For example, LEO satellites (Low Earth Orbit) are closer to earth and therefore the packet latency (time needed for internet traffic to travel) is reduced to as low as 20-25 ms which is pretty good.
Installation is Instant
Satellite internet doesn’t require a lengthy installation process. It’s simple to set up and start using as soon as the account is created with a service provider.
Once it is set up, anyone in the household can begin using it. Those who need an internet connection now may opt for satellite internet, so there’s no waiting necessary (except the time needed to install the dish on your roof etc).
Recovery Time is Fast
Any type of internet will have outages at some point, though some are more reliable than others. When most types of internet connections go down, a service technician will be needed to see what caused the issue and what needs to be repaired.
Once the service technician arrives, repairs can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. With satellite internet, when something does go down, the recovery time is much faster, often within minutes.
More Providers Getting into the Market
As satellite internet becomes more popular, more internet providers are looking into it as a way to provide access to more people.
This means there are more providers available now than ever before, and the list of providers continues to grow.
For users, an increasing number of providers means more competition, which can help reduce prices and keep the internet working. It also means better technology is used, which provides more stable and faster internet for the users.
Disadvantages of Satellite Internet
Expensive Compared to Other Options
Satellite internet isn’t the cheapest option. While it’s not the most expensive, there are other options that do cost less and may provide more benefits.
Users will need to look into the internet available in their area and compare costs plus speeds to find the right solution for them. If there are other options that are less expensive, satellite internet may not be the right option.
Slower Than Some Connections
Though satellite internet is faster than dial-up or ADSL, it’s not the fastest internet connection. The internet signal comes from space, so it can be slower than other options that may be available.
This can be a concern if the internet is needed for TV streaming, for working from home, or for doing school work. Those who rely on fast internet connections may want to look into other options that are available or take a look at what they might be able to do to increase the connection speed.
Data Use is Usually Restricted
Most satellite internet providers will restrict how much data bandwidth can be consumed each month. What this means for users is that the internet may slow down or stop working toward the end of the month if they’ve hit the maximum allowed data usage.
It is important for users to understand what the limits are before making a decision, as those who rely on the internet for streaming, work, and other high-use reasons may want to consider another option.
Bad Weather Causes Issues
The signal for the internet comes from satellites in space, so it’s possible for the connection to be slower or fail if the weather in the area is poor.
In general, a cloudy day won’t make too much of a difference, but it can if the clouds are thick and cover the sky. If there is a lot of rain, the signal may not be strong enough to reach subscribers.
Though this is being worked on and experts are searching for ways to offer more reliable connections, it is something for users to be aware of before they opt for satellite internet.
Last but not least, satellite internet connections usually have high latency. Although we mentioned above that LEO satellite services can reduce latency considerably, most satellite providers do not employ LEO satellites, so internet latency is very high.
On most satellite providers, latency can go as high as 600ms which is very high.
With latency we mean the time needed for internet packets to travel from one point to another (e.g from your browser to an internet website). High latency is bad for some types of traffic such as voice and video.
Though there are both pros and cons for satellite internet, it is important to note that it is continually improving. Users are seeing faster speeds, better reliability, and more.
If you live in a rural remote area where no cable-based broadband internet service is available, then satellite internet may be a great choice. Take a look at options available from service providers today to learn more.