What equipment will I need for satellite internet to work?
To use satellite internet, you’ll need an internet-ready device (like a computer, tablet, or gaming console), a modem/router, and a satellite dish. You probably already have internet-ready devices at home, and your satellite internet service provider can set you up with a modem/router and satellite dish.
How fast is satellite internet?
Download speeds for Viasat satellite internet range from 12 Mbps to 100 Mbps, depending on the plan you choose. HughesNet plans all offer the same download speed of 25 Mbps. But keep in mind those are advertised speeds. The speeds you actually experience may be slower. Starlink speeds (as reported during the public beta test) range from 50 to 150 Mbps, so it’s faster than some plans but slower than others.
Is satellite internet faster than cable?
No, satellite internet is not faster than cable or fiber internet, although it can be faster than dial-up and some DSL providers. But, it’s fast enough for most online activities— satellite internet service can support email, streaming, social media, and video conferencing. Satellite internet is almost always slower than cable or fiber internet providers. Additionally, satellite service usually caps the amount of full speed data you can get each month, which leads to throttling and sluggish speeds.
When will Starlink satellite internet be available?
Currently Starlink is available in parts of the US, Canada, and the UK during the public beta. As new satellites are launched, additional areas will be added. It may take a year or more before Starlink is available globally. You can sign up on Starlink’s website and get a notification when Starlink internet is available in your area.
Who has the fastest satellite internet?
In many areas, Viasat offers download speeds up to 100 Mbps. Some beta testers of Starlink report slightly higher speeds for the new LEO service, with download speeds reaching up to 150 Mbps, although speeds vary widely since the Starlink constellation isn’t fully built out yet. Starlink’s advertised speeds are 50 to 150 Mbps.
Is satellite internet as fast as cable internet?
No, satellite internet is not as fast as cable internet. Satellite speeds top out at 150 Mbps while cable speeds can reach up to 1,000 Mbps. Some satellite internet plans technically offer download speeds as fast as cable internet in some areas, but it likely wouldn’t seem faster because of satellite internet’s higher latency.
Is satellite internet good enough for streaming (e.g., Netflix)?
Yes, you can stream with satellite internet, but there are a lot of factors to consider before you do—especially data caps. With satellite internet, you’ll be picking a data plan as well as a speed, and your data plan can make a big difference in your speed. If you use too much data, your speeds will be slowed for the rest of the month, which can impact the ability to stream video.
Since streaming can be tricky on satellite, we wrote two guides to help you get the most out of your internet connection: Your Guide to Streaming with Satellite Internet and How to Stop Buffering When Streaming with Satellite Internet.
Should I get satellite internet or fixed-wireless internet?
If you have a choice between satellite internet or fixed-wireless internet, you may get more data for your dollar by opting for fixed wireless. Many fixed-wireless plans offer higher data caps or even unlimited data and are usually cheaper than satellite internet service. Satellite internet typically has more limited data plans (10 GB to 150 GB per month). For more information on fixed-wireless internet, check out the best fixed-wireless providers for rural areas.
How do I know if I qualify for subsidized broadband internet service through the FCC Lifeline program?
The Lifeline program offers a $9.25 per month discount on internet service with Viasat, HughesNet, or dozens of other internet providers. If you live on Tribal Lands, you may qualify for a monthly internet discount up to $34.25.
How can I get internet access on Tribal Lands?
Many Tribal Lands are underserved in regards to high-speed internet services. NPR reported that only 50% of individuals on Tribal Lands had access to high-speed internet.
If you live on Tribal Lands, your internet options may include some of the following.
Satellite communication relies on having a clear view of the sky, so people living in heavily wooded areas or narrow canyons (where there isn’t a clear view of the sky overhead) may not be able to get satellite internet.
You can find out more about bringing internet service to your area (or your home) by checking into the FCC’s internet assistance programs for tribal lands. Recognizing that rural areas are more likely to not have access to internet, the FCC offers Enhanced Lifeline Benefits for Tribal Lands.
How does satellite TV work?
Satellite TV works in a relay system similar to satellite internet, but it uses a set-top box and a TV instead of a modem and internet-ready device. Live satellite TV does not use internet data, so it’s a good choice for customers who have internet plans with data limits. For tips on picking a satellite TV provider, check out our guide to the best satellite TV providers.
How can I get high-speed internet in rural areas?
Satellite internet is available in almost every rural area in the US. Satellite internet plans come with download speeds from 12 Mbps to 100 Mbps. Any internet plan with download speeds above 25 Mbps is considered broadband (high-speed) internet by the FCC.
In many rural areas, satellite internet isn’t the only option anymore. Many areas have additional options that offer more data and lower prices. Check out our guide to the Best Internet for Rural Areas to find out about 4G LTE home internet, fixed-wireless, and other options that work away from the city.
Can I get satellite internet for RV?
It is possible to equip an RV with satellite internet, but this isn’t currently practical for most people. VSAT (very small aperture terminal) equipment is the only type of satellite internet equipment that is transportable, but this type of mobile satellite internet equipment is expensive ($5,000 and up) and delivers a really slow internet speed (less than 1 Mbps).
Still, satellite internet for RV can be the best option for people who work in extremely remote locations or in marine vessels on the open ocean. For more information, check out our guides to internet for RV and best internet for boats.
For most people who are planning to use the internet recreationally while traveling, we recommend using cellular internet in your RV and adding some equipment to make the signal stronger. You can strengthen your mobile phone signal by using a booster made for RVs, using a mobile hotspot, getting a portable 4G LTE home internet plan that isn’t tied to your location, or hotspotting off your phone (with a mobile plan that has a generous hotspot allowance).
Is satellite internet good for gaming?
Some games work with satellite internet, but not all games. Because of the distance satellite internet data has to travel—22,000 miles to outer space and back twice—lag is unavoidable. Any game that requires rapid response, like Call of Duty, Apex Legends, or Fortnite—will be unplayable with satellite internet’s delay. For more tips, check out Your Guide to Gaming on Satellite Internet, written by an avid gamer who grew up in a small midwestern town.
When Starlink’s LEO satellite constellation is more fully built out, Starlink internet may be fast enough for competitive gaming. Currently, Starlink is in a public beta and customers may have service interruptions which would be a problem with online gaming.
Is satellite internet a good option?
Satellite internet is a great option when DSL, cable, or fiber internet aren’t available. In some areas, satellite service offers speeds up to 100 Mbps. Other parts of the country may have slower speeds of around 12 Mbps available in their area. Data caps and latency issues take some getting used to, but satellite internet service can effectively connect people who live away from city services to online school, jobs, news, entertainment, and more.
Is satellite internet better than DSL internet?
Satellite internet is available in more remote areas, but DSL internet sometimes has higher data caps. That means that DSL internet customers won’t be as likely to experience throttling. You can check out Satellite vs. DSL to determine which internet type is best for you.
Can you stream with satellite internet?
Yes, most satellite internet plans allow for some video streaming. But, you will need to carefully monitor your data usage because streaming uses a lot of data.
The problem with streaming on satellite internet has more to do with data caps than with speed, since nearly any satellite plan will deliver fast enough speeds for Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming service. But, if you binge watch all weekend and exceed your data cap, your satellite providers will throttle speeds down to 1 to 3 Mbps, which will cause problems with streaming and many other internet activities.
HughesNet and Viasat have options to help you save data when you stream so you don’t use up your data allowance as quickly. We recommend you stream in the lowest quality when possible, since this will save data.
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