Having problems with your satellite internet connection? Wondering if there’s a way to make it faster? Read this article, and you will learn all your need to know about satellite internet – what it is, what its advantages and disadvantages are, and how to get the most out of your satellite internet connection.
What is Satellite Internet?
Satellite internet is a type of wireless internet connection that receives an internet signal with the help of satellites orbiting around the Earth.
There are 5 parts of a satellite internet system:
- Device to be used (Computer/laptop, smart tv, etc.)
- Modem and router
- One antenna is in your home (usually located on the roof of the house)
- The second antenna is in space.
- The third antenna is located with your ISP (in the network operation center)
5 parts of a satellite internet system (source – Viasat)
Unlike other types of internet, it works completely independent of the location – the connection can be made in absolutely any place. For this reason, it is used mainly in rural areas – in places where there are no other options.
How Does Satellite Internet Work?
The satellite internet communicates with the moving satellites with the help of radio waves. Data is sent and downloaded on the communication network. In short, this process is performed as follows: Your provider sends an Internet signal into space, more precisely to a satellite (the satellite in space is 22,000 miles away from the earth). Then, your satellite dish picks up that signal, and the signal comes to your modem. Communication goes both ways.
Simply put, whenever you submit a request – for example, you want to open a new page or download something from the Internet, that request “travels” to a plate located in space and from there to the ISP. The completed request will be sent to your computer via the antenna.
Advantages of Satellite Internet
Coverage of all parts of the world – The biggest advantage of satellite internet over others is global coverage – there is no inaccessible location for it. Despite all geographical barriers, satellite internet provides the ability to access the Internet even in the most secluded areas.
Satellite internet provides global coverage
Speed - Although speed is not a big advantage, it is certainly far faster, up to thirty times, compared to a dial-up internet connection.
Simple installation and setup – Installation of satellite internet is not complicated at all and is done in a short time.
Viasat Satellite internet installation and setup
No phone line required – Another good thing about this type of internet is that you don’t need an existing phone line to use it.
Disadvantages of Satellite Internet
Impact of weather conditions – This can certainly lead to problems in the operation of satellite internet, because bad weather conditions, such as strong wind or rain can interfere with the signal or lead to a complete interruption of the internet.
You may have heard of latency – This is a very common problem with satellite internet. Latency is the time it takes for data sent from your computer to reach another destination. Since we explained in the previous section how satellite internet works (data is sent to a satellite that is in space, and is 22,000 miles away), this type of internet is not for someone who needs high responsiveness. If we need to list one type of internet users to whom this kind of internet is not recommended, then they are definitely online gamers.
Average latencies for various connection types (FCC Communications Marketplace Report)
Data caps – Your data is limited depending on the plan you have, and you must take into account how much you spent and try not to run out of data before the end of the month, or before the new billing cycle. Because, unlike other types, there is no unlimited data flow when it comes to satellite internet.
Obstacles – Obstacles can interfere with the signal or completely disable satellite internet. This primarily refers to the large trees that are characteristic of the tropics.
Price – The installation itself is not expensive, but the monthly subscription is far higher than with cable internet.
VPN (in)compatibility – VPN requires high bandwidth as well as low latency, which this type of Internet does not provide so they are not very compatible.
Who is Satellite Internet Recommended For?
Cable Internet companies offer their services exclusively in urban or highly populated areas. This type of internet is not available in rural areas, primarily because the provider of the company would have to deal with digging cable trenches, which would not pay off for them.
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In such situations, when it’s not possible to use cable, fiber, or DSL internet, usually in rural areas, satellite internet is recommended. Not only recommended – it’s usually the only option.
Why Satellite Internet is Slow
The maximum speed of a satellite internet connection is approx. 100 Mbps. This is a decent speed for internet use on multiple devices. However, it is still far slower than a cable connection, which is 10 times faster. One of the reasons why satellite internet is slower than other types is because almost all companies that provide it have only one or two satellites in space that they use for all their users. However, it is predicted that, in the near future, with the increase in the number of satellite dishes in space, the maximum speed will increase to 500Mbps. The latest Elon Musk project called Starlink could bring us speeds of up to 1 Gbps.
Starlink satellite internet explained
Satellite internet can be easily used for everyday activities, such as browsing the internet, exchanging messages on social media, watching YouTube videos, or listening to music. However, there are some things where the use of satellite internet is not recommended, such as playing online games, video chats, or live streaming. Considering that one of the characteristics of this type of internet is latency, you have to keep in mind that there will be a signal transmission delay of about half a second, and gamers know how much time is important for the final outcome of the video game. Also, being late in and in a video conversation makes communication very difficult.
In the end, when we take everything into account (price, speed, etc.) we can conclude that satellite internet is far from an ideal option (at least still). However, when you are in a situation where it’s your only option, then it is certainly better than being without an internet connection because life without the internet in the 21st century is really unimaginable.
Hey, I’m Jeremy Clifford. I hold a bachelor’s degree in information systems, and I’m a certified network specialist. I worked for several internet providers in LA, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Seattle over the past 21 years.
I worked as a customer service operator, field technician, network engineer, and network specialist. During my career in networking, I’ve come across numerous modems, gateways, routers, and other networking hardware. I’ve installed network equipment, fixed it, designed and administrated networks, etc.
Networking is my passion, and I’m eager to share everything I know with you. On this website, you can read my modem and router reviews, as well as various how-to guides designed to help you solve your network problems. I want to liberate you from the fear that most users feel when they have to deal with modem and router settings.
My favorite free-time activities are gaming, movie-watching, and cooking. I also enjoy fishing, although I’m not good at it. What I’m good at is annoying David when we are fishing together. Apparently, you’re not supposed to talk or laugh while fishing – it scares the fishes.