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Satellite internet, already good, is getting even better

BY David Anders | Tue Dec 18, 2018
Satellite internet, already good, is getting even better

For years, satellite internet has won the reputation of being a pricey, slow, last resort for internet. However, as satellite internet technology continues to improve, that’s no longer the case.

With the launch of more advanced, lower-orbiting satellites, previous shortcomings of satellite internet — slow speeds, high latency and high pricing — are likely soon to be frustrations of the past. Satellite internet already outperforms dial-up and some DSL services, but emerging technologies could bring satellite internet up to par with cable or fiber internet capabilities.

Plus, satellite internet is available virtually everywhere while cable internet only reaches about 89% of the U.S. and fiber only about 29%, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Instead of being the “last resort” for an internet connection, satellite internet is quickly becoming an internet option as viable as DSL, cable or fiber.

Is satellite internet a good option?

Currently, satellite internet is a great option for residents of rural or suburban areas who may not have access to fiber internet or a decent cable connection. Along with basically unlimited availability, satellite internet also offers Wi-Fi connectivity and speeds fast enough for streaming services, such as Netflix.

Benefits of satellite internet

With satellite internet, you can:

  • Get high-speed internet anywhere
  • Get an internet connection without a phone line
  • Enjoy speeds much faster than dial-up, and faster than DSL in some areas
  • Connect mobile devices via home Wi-Fi

Best satellite internet services

The best satellite internet services currently available are HughesNet Gen5 and Viasat.

HughesNet launched their Gen5 satellite in March 2017, which delivers broadband internet speeds (defined by the FCC as download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps or higher), plus higher bandwidth and built-in Wi-Fi technology. Speeds for Viasat internet vary by location, but both satellite internet providers are good options to get high-speed internet anywhere.

While HughesNet and Viasat offer the best satellite internet today, the services still come with some of satellite internet’s long-standing issues: high latency and relatively slow speeds compared to cable and fiber. However, new satellite technology and the rise of competitors, such as SpaceX and Boeing, hopes to eliminate the drawbacks of satellite internet.

What’s the future of satellite internet?

High-tech, low-flying satellites, and lots of them. Companies including SpaceX, OneWeb, Boeing and Telesat aim to launch thousands of low-orbiting satellites in coming years.

In order to launch so many satellites, SpaceX will make use of their reusable rockets, which can carry up to 3 satellites per launch. Furthermore, OneWeb claims automation will enable them to manufacture up to 3 satellites per day, at a cost of only about $1 million per satellite whereas a normal single communications satellite could cost as much as $150 million.

These new satellites will be capable of delivering speeds rivaling other connection types, and their lower proximity to Earth will minimize latency issues.

What else can customers expect from the new technologies? Possibly smaller receiver devices (satellite dishes) that do not require special installation or calibrating. Ideally, users would be able to self-install their receiver, an added convenience to an already improved service.

Will satellites make high-speed internet available worldwide?

Quite possibly. Satellite internet is far more capable than cable or fiber of reaching remote locations. With thousands of satellites orbiting the globe, rural areas and developing countries all over the world could have access to broadband internet.

Satellite internet advancements are good news not only for rural or remote areas with little access to internet options, but for internet subscribers everywhere, including large urban areas.

If satellite internet can deliver faster speeds and lower latency, it could become as appealing as cable or fiber, no matter the market. At the very least, the added competition could result in better pricing or service quality from cable and fiber-optic internet providers.

Thinking about satellite internet for your home?

Satellite internet is arguably advancing faster than any other internet service type. If you’re interested in satellite internet for your home, or simply want to learn more about your options and what speeds and pricing you can get with satellite internet, rely on Allconnect®, your experts for all things internet.

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