FAQ about satellite internet modems and routers
What is the ideal position for my Wi-Fi router?
You should position your router as close to the center of your network as possible. A router sends its Wi-Fi signal in all directions, so centralizing it maximizes the signal strength to the widest area. Also, avoid placing your router on or near metal objects like filing cabinets or safes. Metal can interfere with the signal.
How can I maximize my satellite internet speed?
You can get maximum internet speed from your satellite connection by connecting your computer to the modem with an Ethernet cable. If you’re on satellite internet, this won’t send you into gigabit speed bliss, but it might bump up your speed just enough to help things like work and video conferencing go more smoothly.
Should I buy or rent my modem and router?
Most customers rent their modem and router. Rental equipment prices are $5 per month for Viasat’s modem/router or $14.99 per month for HughesNet’s modem/router. Purchasing the modem/router outright costs $299.99 for Viasat or $350.00 for HughesNet. Starlink doesn’t offer rental, so you will have to buy it upfront for $499. If you plan to stay with your internet provider for many years, buying your satellite internet modem outright might be a good idea, but in most cases renting costs less.
Do I have to use the HughesNet or Viasat modem?
Yes, you must use the modem provided by HughesNet or Viasat. Standard modems you can find in stores or online aren’t compatible with satellite internet (although some routers are). Both HughesNet and Viasat will lease you a modem/router combo. You must use the ISP-issued modem, but you can use your own router with satellite internet service.
Unfortunately, you’ll still have to pay the full monthly equipment fee, so you won’t save any money by using your own router. However, a third-party router may improve the strength of the Wi-Fi signal on your home network, especially if you’re trying to create a network that covers a large area.
How does satellite internet work?
Satellite internet works by using wireless transmitters orbiting the earth to send signals between the ISP and end users on the ground. This technology creates a wide area of availability, making it great for rural areas, but it also causes lag time due to the enormous distance the signal must travel.
Is satellite internet a good option?
Satellite internet is a good option for rural areas or places where dial-up is your only other option. The biggest advantage satellite internet has going for it is that it’s available almost anywhere in the US. If you have other internet options (like cable, DSL, or fixed-wireless internet), we recommend you check these out first because you can probably get faster speeds and more data at a lower price than you can get with a satellite connection.
A satellite internet connection can offer speeds as fast as some DSL, fixed-wireless, and cable providers, but all satellite plans come with data limitations. Once you reach your data threshold for the month, your speeds will be slowed way down unless you buy extra data for the month (which can get expensive).
Additionally, satellite internet often feels slower due to latency or lag. There’s no way of getting around that lag. It’s inherent to the technology because it takes time for a signal to travel to space and back. You’ll notice the lag most with real-time tasks online, like gaming or drafting your fantasy football team. For activities like streaming, the lag may delay the initial load, but it should no longer be an issue once the stream starts because your download will be ahead of it.
Unless you love real-time online gaming, satellite internet is a good option that offers affordable plans with reasonable download speeds.
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Our team at SatelliteInternet.com keeps a finger on the pulse of the satellite internet industry, continually gathering expert insights and thorough research to be your go-to resource on the topic.
If you’re looking for a deeper dive, check out our detailed comparison of the two leading satellite internet providers on our Viasat vs. HughesNet page. And if you’d like to learn more about Starlink and other LEO internet providers, check out our Starlink review and our guide to how low-Earth orbit is changing satellite internet.
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