The satellite internet is a high-speed internet connection provided through the communication satellites. This service offers internet access to the users by using the telecommunication satellites in the Earth’s orbit.
Satellite internet includes three satellite dishes; one at the ISP’s hub, one in space and one attached to your property. Also, modem and cables are required besides the dishes. The satellite dish provides two-way communication, and thus telephone cables/lines are not needed.
Satellite internet is advantageous in places where DSL and cable connections are not available. Also, it is location independent and offers global coverage.
However, it offers lesser network bandwidth than DSL or cable. There are chances of network latency resulting in a poor performance. Applications like VPN or online gaming may not work appropriately in such cases. It is also expensive than traditional internet services.
In this article, we will read about its history, how it works, how to use satellite internet as well as its pros and cons. So, here we go!
The history of satellite internet
There have been several satellite launches since 1957. Let us view them in a tabular manner.
|SATELLITE NAME||LAUNCHED BY||YEAR|
|TELSTAR 1 (first commercial communication satellite)||Built by Bell Labs||1962|
|SYNCOM3 (first satellite to reach geostationary orbit)||Built by Hughes Aircraft for NASA||1963|
|SPACEWAY (first Ka-band satellite)||Hughes Aircraft Co.||1993|
|ANIK F2 (first high throughput satellite)||–||2004|
|VIASAT – 1||Viasat||2011|
With the failure of a project named Teledesic in 2003, the craze for satellite internet got hampered for a while.
With its abandonment, many satellite internet providers like Iridium Communications Inc. and Globalstar faced a massive financial loss.
Since 2014, multiple companies like OneWeb, SpaceX, and Boeing have been planning to work on internet access by utilizing the satellite constellations in lower Earth orbit.
In 2017, some airlines like Delta and American introduced satellite internet as a way of combating limited bandwidth on the airplanes to provide the passengers good internet speeds.
How does satellite internet work?
The pieces of equipment for satellite internet include a geostationary satellite in space, a satellite dish on your home and a modem for transmitting internet signals from the dish to your computer.
Also, you will require a satellite broadband provider.
There are very few satellite broadband providers in the market, and each of them varies in pricing, service packages, and connection speeds. Now let’s see how satellite internet works.
Satellite internet utilizes a geostationary satellite to provide internet signal to your home.
The satellite offers two-way communication between the satellite dish (located at the top of your house) and the hub of the satellite internet provider.
When you try to access a webpage, a request is sent from your computer to the satellite, which the satellite transmits to the hub of the satellite internet provider.
At the hub, the requested web page is spotted and beamed back to the satellite.
This data is thus sent to your dish and the required site loads on your computer with the help of a modem connected to the dish.
You can connect all the internet-enabled devices at your home to the web using satellite internet.
How fast is the satellite internet?
Satellite internet is fast but may not be the fastest internet connection. It is faster than dial-up connection but slower than high-speed cables or fiber optics.
The speed offered depends on your location as well as your service provider. For example, Viasat can provide a speed ranging from 12 Mbps to 30 Mbps based on different packages.
Its advanced version called Viasat-2 offers speed upto 100 Mbps. Thus, you can conveniently work and carry out your activities online at these speeds.
Undoubtedly, high-speed cables and fiber optics will work even faster than satellite internet, but satellite internet is also a good option, especially in rural areas.
How to use satellite internet?
To use satellite internet, there are three basic steps to be remembered. They are:
- Sign up for the service
- Installing the satellite dish
- Establishing the connection
Sign up for the service
Firstly, you should find out the satellite internet service providers in your area. After that, you must compare the service packages, speed, pricing and other features offered by them.
You can take reviews and feedbacks from other customers or your neighbors. Finally, you must choose a service provider.
Select a plan and complete the payment procedure for it. You can take the help of the service provider to finish this. The subscription usually includes a satellite dish and a modem.
If the modem is not provided, you may have to buy the modem by yourself.
Installing the satellite dish
Most of the satellite internet services provide the installation support themselves. They usually send professionals to complete the process. It is very rare that you have to install it yourself.
The satellite dish must be placed in an unobstructed area, pointing towards the equator. While mounting it on the roof or balcony, ensure that the connections are tight and stable.
Attach the coaxial cables to the dish and keep them away from any sharp object. You may use staples or hose ties to anchor them to your roof.
Establishing the connection
Before setting up the connection, you should have an installed satellite dish, a satellite internet-capable modem, an ethernet cable, and a power source.
Make sure your computer is placed near the modem as well as the coaxial cable. After this, plug in the modem to a power source.
If your dish has one coaxial cable, plug it in the modem’s coaxial port. If your dish has two cables, then connect the ‘IN’ cable into the ‘SAT IN’ coaxial port and the ‘OUT’ cable in the ‘SAT OUT’ coaxial port.
Connect one end of ethernet cable to the modem and the other end with your computer.
If your dish receives the signal uninterruptedly, then your connection must have been established, and you can start browsing as you wish almost instantly.
Is satellite internet a good option?
There are several disadvantages of using satellite internet. Many factors affect the entire service. Let’s find out.
Poor weather conditions impact the satellite internet connection. Rains, storms or bad winds affect the connectivity, thus providing poor quality internet. The weather must be clear for excellent service.
In satellite internet, latency determines how fast you can send and receive files. Since the data is sent to space, then to ISP and again from there in the same way back to you, the entire service has very poor latency.
It is not preferable for gaming or VoIP services.
The dish should be placed in an open area. Any obstruction like building, branch, etc. can hamper the quality of internet connectivity.
The ISP implements bandwidth limitations by slowing down the internet speed, as per the Fair Use Policy.
Satellite internet is expensive. You are likely to pay $100 per month for a speed of 2 Mbps.
All these reasons tend to the point that satellite internet is not at all a good choice. But it is not so.
You may be thinking that despite so many disadvantages, why are people even using it? Well, it has few advantages as well, and those keep this service going on and on. What are they?
Satellite internet is not the fastest internet connection in the world but offers a speed ten times faster than a dial-up connection.
So, in the rural areas of the World, satellite internet connection links everyone to the web and of course, in a much better way than dial-up.
Also, it does not require a phone line. It can deal with high bandwidth usage without affecting internet speed in the presence of many users.
How can I boost my satellite internet?
There are lots of things you can try out to boost and improve the satellite internet performance. Let us see what they are.
- Ask your service provider to check the alignment of your dish. Precise alignment is necessary for good uplink and downlink signals.
- Bring the satellite dish closer to the modem. Cable runs more than 100 feet negatively impact the signal strength to a great extent. So keep the dish close to enhance the performance.
- You can also opt for installing a larger dish with a powerful transmitter.
- You may also attempt to change your service provider.
Dealing with an installer, representing multiple satellite providers, is an excellent idea. In this way, you can find the best provider for your area.
However, try not to move the dish by yourself as this can hamper the signal quality and also, keep it in mind that changing service providers can turn out costly.
What are some of the best satellite internet providers?
There are very few satellite internet providers available in the market. Some of the top satellite providers recently discontinued their services.
For example, EarthLink and dishNET have discontinued their services. Exede bought WildBlue satellite internet in 2009. So people have an even lesser option left.
The two most popular services in vogue are Viasat and HughesNet.
Viasat internet was previously called Exede internet. It offers high speed and unlimited data. It has a variety of packages available for different users.
For example, the package “UNLIMITED BRONZE 12” offers speed upto 12 Mbps and costs $50/month and $70/month after 3 months.
“UNLIMITED SILVER 25” speeds upto 25 Mbps and costs $70/month and $100/month after 3 months.
“UNLIMITED GOLD 30” has a speed of 30 Mbps and charges $100/month and $150/month after 3 months.
So, you see all the packages provide unlimited data but differ in speeds. Regarding prices, well, we have already told you that satellite internet is costly and it is reflected in the prices offered per package.
Viasat has released a new telecommunications satellite Viasat-2 in 2017. It is reported to provide a speed upto 100 Mbps. It claims to offer services to more subscribers too.
Viasat-2 has passed many tests recently and has also displayed its capability in the field of military communications. Thus Viasat Internet is expected to bring in more waves of change and improvement soon.
Hughesnet is not as fast as Viasat and is also less expensive than the latter. It offers a download speed of 25 Mbps and upload speed of 3 Mbps in its every package but differs in the amount of data limit provision.
Let’s view its plan in the following table.
|DATA LIMIT (GB)||COST PER MONTH ($)||SPEED (Mbps)|
Unlike Viasat, the prices for HughesNet packages remain the same even after 3 months. On exceeding the allotted data limit before time, it slows down the speed but does not charge extra.
Both Viasat and HughesNet require a 24-month contract. Additional monthly charges are applied if you unsubscribe before the completion of the contract.
So, looking at the features of both these service providers, Viasat is the better option and offers the fastest speed. However, HughesNet is also a preferred option for many people who opt for less expensive services.
Satellite internet is a type of high-speed internet, which connects people to the internet especially in the areas where the quality of access is poor or terrestrial internet access is not available.
It involves a geostationary satellite, a satellite dish for your home and a satellite internet service provider. Also, a modem is necessary for the service.
To use the service, you first have to choose an ISP. After completing the payments, you proceed for installation and then establish the connection. However, while setting up the dish, ensure that it is placed appropriately, without any obstructions.
Though satellite internet offers excellent service in rural areas, it has a lot of drawbacks also. It is not as fast as the DSL or cable and has poor latency. It is expensive and not suitable for gaming, VPN or VoIP services.