Satellite internet is a type of high-speed internet provided through satellites as opposed to cables and telephone lines. Geostationary satellites orbit the Earth at the same speed as its rotation, remaining stationary relative to a location on the Earth's surface. These satellites transmit an internet signal directly to your home. To receive satellite internet at home, you will need a special satellite dish or receiver and a service contract with an internet satellite provider.
Satellite internet is ideal for homes and businesses in rural areas where cable or DSL internet is not available. It offers a vast improvement over conventional dial-up because it delivers a high-speed internet connection without tying up a telephone line. The best satellite internet providers, including DirecTV, HughesNet and DishNET, provide high-speed internet in the most rural parts of the country. To learn more about this type of internet service, browse through our in-depth satellite internet reviews and articles on satellite internet.
All satellite broadband services provide the same type of internet connection, but the plans they offer vary in terms of speed, bandwidth thresholds and service features. Depending on how you use the internet, here are the key items to look for in a satellite internet provider.
Speeds & Threshold
Connection speed refers to how quickly you can download and upload data. Internet speed is normally measured in either kilobits per second (Kbps) or megabits per second (Mbps); 1024Kbps equals 1Mbps. The higher the Kbps, the quicker you can download and upload data online. Likewise, since Mbps is a larger unit than Kbps, the higher the Mbps, the better. None of the satellite internet services we reviewed guarantee their network speeds. They display the maximum speed under each package they offer, but these only serve as baselines. In fact, actual speeds are typically lower and depend on your computer configuration, network congestion, peak traffic hours and other factors. Look for a provider with average connection speeds that aren't drastically lower advertised speed.
It's also important to consider bandwidth allowance when choosing a provider. While connection speed refers to how fast the connection transmits data, bandwidth measures the actual amount of data you can download and upload. Most service providers have a monthly bandwidth cap, known as a Fair Access Policy. If you exceed this threshold, your provider will throttle your bandwidth to reduce your speed and usage for the remainder of your 30-day cap. This is to ensure that a few select users don't monopolize network bandwidth and impair the speed and service of other users. If you're a heavy internet user, meaning you frequently stream music, download media or watch high-definition videos, look for a provider that offers a high data allowance. If you use the internet primarily to browse and use email, you won't need quite as much bandwidth. If you are concerned about exceeding your data allowance, opt for a provider that allows you to purchase additional data and offers online tracking tools to manage your bandwidth usage.
Connection speeds and bandwidth threshold are crucial, but they aren't the only factors to consider when choosing a satellite internet provider; service features can also be an important determinant. Consider how many email accounts are included in each plan and how much storage the service allots per account. You should also look for flexible purchasing options, such as a 30-day return policy and discounts for bundling with other services. Additionally, make sure any satellite internet provider you are considering provides a download manager. This feature allows you to automatically schedule downloads and computer updates during low-traffic hours or when you use the least amount of bandwidth, such as nighttime.
You should also consider where a satellite internet provider offers service since service may not be available in all areas. Most provide service throughout the contiguous United States and parts of Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Your use of the internet likely isn't restricted to weekday business hours, so your provider's customer service shouldn't be either. The best satellite internet services provide 24/7 technical support via telephone and live chat. They also provide a customer service web portal where you can manage your account and an online knowledgebase to help you troubleshoot common issues.
You should thoroughly evaluate your options before signing up with one of these major services and be sure that you understand all terms and conditions. If you live or work in a rural area, satellite broadband can give you the ability to surf the web with a high-speed connection.
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|Monthly Equipment Leasing Fee||$9.99||$9.99||$10||$9.99||$199 one-time fee|
|Contract Term (years)||2||2||2||2||1 or 2|
|Early Cancellation Fee||$15 per remaining month of contract||$400, less $15 per month of active service||$17.50 per remaining month of contract||$15 per remaining month of contract||$499**|
|Discounted Activation for New Customers||Existing Dish Network Customers Only|
|Average Download Speed (Kbps)||16,896||8192||7168||2615||1024|
|Average Upload Speed (Kbps)||4915||451||827||400||120|
|Optimal Downstream (Kbps)||12,288||10,240||5120||3072||512|
|Optimal Upstream (Kbps)||3072||1024||1024||256||100|
|Premium Optimal Downstream (Kbps)||12,288||15,360||10,240||1536|
|Premium Optimal Upstream (Kbps)||3072||2048||2048||256|
|Anytime Bandwidth (GB)||10||10||5||16||1|
|Nighttime Bandwidth (GB)||Unlimited||10||5|
|Premium Anytime Bandwidth (GB)||25||20||15||16||5|
|Premium Nighttime Bandwidth (GB)||Unlimited||20||15|
|Purchase Additional Data|
|Number of Email Accounts||10||10||5||10||5|
|Storage Per Email Account (GB)||10||2||2||7||7|
|Customizable Web Portal|
|Spam & Virus Protection|
|30-Day Return Policy|
|Help & Support|
|Customer Service Website|
|Online Account Management|
|24/7 Technical Support|