There are multiple ways to access the internet, such as through cable, DSL and satellite. One of the reasons some people choose satellite internet is because of its omnipresent availability. But it also has its technical issues that sometimes are as spotty as nineties dial-up internet. Here's a look at what you need to know when considering satellite internet.
Who is Satellite Internet Ideal For?
The people who can benefit the most from satellite internet live in remote areas where cable and DSL are unavailable. Rural, mountainous, wilderness and coastal areas don't always have services from standard ISPs. Meanwhile, satellite internet pretty much covers the planet since the signal is coming from space.
It's essentially better than nothing, but it's not going to be the high performance you get from wired services. So it's not the best solution for a business, particularly one that provides 24/7 digital services. But it's still useful for regions that have a history of natural disasters such as flooding, wildfires, earthquakes and hurricanes. Thanks to satellite internet, victims in this area can still connect online when wired internet services are down.
Satellite Internet's Greatest Strength: Wide Availability
The fact that anyone anywhere can get internet access via satellite makes this technology worthwhile as an option. Many consumers complain that only a few choices for internet service providers are available in their areas, often overlooking the option of satellite internet. While it's not the best choice for seamless internet, it's the best choice for resilient internet during a disaster.
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For the most part, satellite transmission works better than the cheapest dial-up or mobile hotspot connectivity, but on rainy days it can have unpredictable coverage. On the other hand, during clear skies, the coverage is usually just as good as cable or DSL.
Some satellite internet providers offer data transmission speeds up to 25 Mbps with goals of reaching higher speeds within the next decade. According to the FCC, 90 percent of satellite internet providers achieve up to 140 percent of the speeds they claim, including during peak times.
Satellite Internet Weaknesses: Speed, Data Caps, Pricing
The first red flag you may notice about satellite internet is that it's a little more expensive than other types of broadband. Then if you decide to purchase satellite internet service, you may be frustrated by the slower speeds and greater latency. These bottlenecks are particularly obvious during cloudy skies. Another problem is the prohibitive data caps, which restrict internet use.
Other drawbacks to satellite internet are long minimum contracts, such as 12-month subscriptions and inability to support a virtual private network (VPN). Satellite internet is based on spacecraft that remains above the same spot on the planet. Its quality depends on good weather and communication with a dish installed on the user's roof.
Your purpose for using the internet will define whether or not satellite internet is worth the price you pay for it. If you need internet to make stock trades, for example, satellite might not be the right choice, since there's a chance you'll be cut off from real-time quotes or won't have the ability to execute a trade on bad weather days. If you do remote work from home that requires strict deadlines, spotty satellite coverage can disrupt your performance and goals.
Satellite internet exists as a choice that's somewhat of a last resort, but it can play important life-saving roles in certain situations. No matter where you live, satellite internet is at least an option and a temporary alternative when negative issues develop with your main provider.