Have a clear view of the southern sky at your home? Consider satellite internet. You’re connected with broadband internet via orbiting satellites, not your phone line. Satellite internet is a viable option in rural areas too far from metro areas for cable or DSL service. Unlike dial-up, satellite internet is “always on” for your convenience. Average satellite internet speeds depend on several factors. Your computer configuration plays a role. Conduct a speed test to determine your actual internet speed (Try out our favorite one here). A test could reveal hardware or software hurdles that you can correct for better speed. Also consider the number of internet users in your household. How many access the network at once? A speed plan on the lower tier of those offered might struggle to support more than one device simultaneously. Finally, your speed can be affected by internet traffic. You may experience slowdowns before work and school, and in the afternoon. When many users in your area are online, it can affect network performance .
Though satellite internet speeds can fall short of those offered by cable and DSL, they far exceed speeds you’d get with dial-up service. Recent advancements have pushed the fastest satellite internet speeds to be on par with basic cable plan offerings. Transmissions between your home, the operations center, and a satellite take only a millisecond; users likely won’t notice a difference in routine web surfing. User experience with streaming services, VPN use and other media-rich activity can be less than ideal at times due to latency. Latency is lag time between your computer and a website. Higher speed tiers may be able to better accommodate customers with more than one user, or those who need more speed to stream and download smoothly. Shoppers should be aware that some satellite internet carriers impose a Fair Access Policy that imposes a data allowance for each user .
Below are some common speeds and what that means for your favorite activities.
|5 Mbps||8 Mbps||10 Mbps||15 Mbps|
|How long will it take to open up Facebook?||1 sec||< 1 sec||< 1 sec||< 1 sec|
|How fast can I upload a photo to Instagram?||12 sec||7.2 sec||6 sec||3 sec|
|Can I stream music on Spotify without skipping?||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Can I stream a Netflix movie without buffering?||HD quality||HD quality||HD quality||HD quality|
You sit down at your laptop, tablet, or other web-enabled device. You enter a web address. That request zips to an orbiting satellite 22,000 miles in space. This satellite’s rotation period matches Earth’s, which means it stays in the same spot. It’s a long distance, but the request arrives. The satellite relays the request to a network operations center on Earth. Requested data moves from the website to the satellite and back to the NOC. Final destination: your device, through your satellite dish receiver and modem. Data must travel tens of thousands of miles. Latency rates remain fairly low, though, often at a fraction of a second. Users don’t notice latency during normal web activity, such as email or reading. Satellite internet may not be as fast as other delivery types, but it does provide a boost from dial-up speeds. It can be an attractive option for those who live in rural areas, beyond the reach of cable, DSL, and fiber internet providers.
Under ideal conditions, satellite internet users can download media, watch video clips, and surf the web at speeds similar to cable or DSL – and satellite internet works with both Macintosh and Windows operating systems. A satellite internet connection won’t tie up your phone line the way dial-up does. Plus, security measures for satellite internet often match those that cable and DSL provide, so your personal data, financial information and sensitive information are just as safe. As an added layer of protection, the network operations center doesn’t just relay data; computers monitor satellite networks for both performance and security. As satellite technology evolves, providers update infrastructure on the ground and in space to improve capacity and efficiency.
Featured provider: HughesNet
Satellite internet can be a nice fit for some customers.
Do you send email, check headlines, and read blogs? Satellite internet provides the broadband connection you need for simple browsing. You can check weather, catch up on sports scores and update social media, too. With a basic speed plan, you should be able to stream music while you surf.
Some speed plans have enough heft to download documents and movies from the web. Download overnight, when providers often allow downloads at no cost to your data allowance. Certain providers allow customers to buy data coins for more download capacity during the day.
If your family accesses the web from one central device, satellite internet could be a good fit for your needs. With a router, satellite internet customers can also create a home wireless network. Surfing during off-peak hours can give you an even more reliable internet experience.
When you live far from metro areas, cable, DSL and fiber may not be an option. Satellite internet represents an upgrade from dial-up speed and reliability. There’s also the potential for growth as technology improves. Relative to dial-up, the fastest satellite internet speed remains a significant enhancement .