Satellite internet is a type of high-speed internet service that utilizes telecommunications satellites in Earth’s orbit to provide Internet connectivity. This form of internet service is particularly useful for users in remote or rural areas where traditional forms of internet connection, such as DSL or cable, are unavailable. However, how does satellite internet service work? What are its advantages and drawbacks? Here’s everything you need to know!
How Does Satellite Internet Work?
The process begins when you send a request, such as trying to visit a webpage, from your internet-connected device. This information is relayed to a satellite dish installed at your premises, which, in turn, sends signals to a satellite orbiting thousands of miles above the equator.
The satellite receives the signal and redirects it to a Network Operations Center (NOC) on the ground. The NOC decodes the signal and executes the task, such as retrieving a webpage. It then sends the data back to the satellite, which transmits it back to your dish and onto your device, completing the roundtrip.
The Advantages of Satellite Internet
1. Accessibility: Satellite internet service can reach areas where other land-based options can’t. Rural or remote regions without access to fiber, cable, or DSL can still enjoy high-speed internet through satellite technology.
2. Speed: Although not as fast as fiber optic internet, modern satellite internet services can still offer decent speeds suitable for most online activities, including streaming music, watching videos, or video conferencing.
3. Easy Installation: Setting up satellite internet is straightforward. All you need is a clear line of sight to the southern sky, as most communication satellites are over the equator. A professional will install the dish and a modem in your home.
The Disadvantages of Satellite Internet
1. Latency: This is the most significant drawback of satellite internet. Since the signal has to travel thousands of miles into space and back, it can lead to noticeable delays in the communication, especially with real-time applications such as online gaming or video calls.
2. Data Caps: Many satellite internet providers impose strict data limits on their service packages. It means if you exceed your data allowance, your internet speed could be drastically reduced, or you might have to pay extra for additional data.
3. Weather Issues: Bad weather conditions can interfere with the signal’s journey to and from the satellite and induce slow-downs or even connection loss.
Choosing A Satellite Internet Provider
Currently, HughesNet and Viasat dominate the satellite internet market in the US. Both provide coverage for all 50 states, with HughesNet offering a uniform speed of 25 Mbps irrespective of the package, and Viasat offering a range of speeds from 12 Mbps to 100 Mbps depending on the plan and location. A new player, Starlink, a subsidiary of SpaceX, is also currently beta-testing their satellite internet service, aiming to offer speeds of up to 150 Mbps.
In conclusion, satellite internet serves as a much-needed solution for areas with limited internet service options. While it may have some drawbacks in terms of latency, data caps, and weather interferences, advancements in technology are continually improving the satellite internet’s capabilities. It’s a viable choice for many users seeking reliable and reasonably fast internet access in less accessible regions.