Should you get 4G or satellite broadband for your home or business?

4G and satellite broadband compared - the pros and cons


comparison chart


First and foremost, don't make the mistake of thinking that 4G is something that can only be used on smartphones. That's no more true than electricity being something that can only be used for lighting.

4G is already being used to provide a fast, stable and cost-effective broadband connection to tens of thousands of homes and businesses across the entire UK - and especially those that cannot get good broadband speeds over their landlines. Satellite broadband on the other hand should only really be considered as the option of last resort, when no other form of connectivity is available to you.

To visit our 4G Internet site and see the hugely improved value and performance you'll get with 4G broadband, please click here.

Because we have long and direct experience of just how fast, stable and cost-effective 4G services really are, we ourselves now solely focus on supplying 4G broadband to both domestic and business customers all around the UK. You can see for yourself what they have to say about how our 4G services perform for them - and entirely in their own words - by clicking here.

For more detail on how 4G broadband and satellite broadband stack up against each other, please click on any of the 6 comparison topics below. It may also be useful to get a basic understanding of how both technologies work.

4G is a set of frequencies used by mobile network operators - such as Three, EE and Vodafone - to transmit fast broadband from masts. It's completely separate from the frequencies used to make and receive voice calls on mobile phones and it's easiest to think of it as being very similar to wifi - just much more far-reaching.

The equipment needed to use 4G to provide a fast and stable broadband service for your home or business consists of a combined 4G modem/wifi router inside the premises that is connected to a small (9 x 7 inch) external 4G antenna mounted at a suitable point outside the property. This then provides you with a connection to the nearest 4G mast - which will typically be within 8km.

So, it's largely irrelevant if you can't get a strong 4G signal on your smartphone inside your property - because your phone's only got a very small, low-power and omnidirectional antenna built into it. Remember, we fit a relatively much larger external, high-gain and directional fixed 4G antenna that, once installed to point at the strongest available 4G signal, latches on to it, amplifies it and brings it inside to your 4G modem/router for you to then take advantage of.

The costs of getting set up and running on our 4G broadband services are £380 inc VAT, including all equipment, account set-up and professional installation. However, you may well qualify for a government subsidy - and if so, your entire 4G broadband set-up will then be absolutely free.

Click here to find out more about government subsidy schemes and 4G - and see if you could get set up with fast 4G broadband at no cost whatsoever.

Satellite broadband is transmitted by specialist operators - such as Avanti, EutelSat or SES - from satellites in geostationary orbit high above the equator.

The equipment needed to receive satellite broadband comprises a satmodem inside the premises that is connected to a 75cm solid dish mounted at a suitable point outside the property property with clear line of sight. This then provides you with a connection to the relevant satellite - around 36,000km away.

The costs of getting set up with satellite broadband are typically higher, so roughly £470 inc VAT, again including all equipment, account set-up and professional installation, but you'll almost certainly also need a separate wifi router, which will cost around an extra £50 to £100 inc VAT, depending on model chosen.

4G broadband is almost invariably faster than satellite broadband. Whereas no broadband provider can guarantee the broadband speeds you'll receive, it's very important to note that with 4G, we always quote the average speeds that you can expect. These have been independently audited as averaging 20+ Mbps download and 10+ Mbps upload - as you can see by clicking here.

The theoretical maximum speed of a 4G broadband connection is actually well in excess of 120 Mbps - and we've got hundreds of customers whose speeds are considerably above the averages we quote - but we think it's fairest only to highlight the average performance that can be expected over 4G broadband.

With satellite broadband, operators only tend to quote the "up to" or maximum possible speeds deliverable. With current satellite broadband technology, the theroretical maximum speeds available are 50 Mbps download and 6 Mbps upload - and that's only with much more costly monthly satellite broadband packages as well.

However and far more importantly, with satellite broadband, real world performance is typically a mere fraction of those "maximum possible" speeds.

Both 4G and satellite broadband only offer data limited monthly packages - much like pay as you go phones, you choose the amount of data you want each month and once that's been used, your connection is usually blocked until the new month or until you buy a top-up. However the cost of data on 4G broadband is far lower than satellite broadband.

Some satellite broadband packages do offer a form of "unlimited" data allowance. Although strictly speaking true, all this means is that, once your small and expensive "priority" monthly data allowance has been used up, the speed of your satellite broadband connection is immediately automatically throttled back to an almost unusable maximum speed of only 2 Mbps until the start of the new month - which is so slow as to be barely worth having.

At today's monthly broadband package pricing, one GB of data delivered over 4G broadband can cost you as little as 8.5p.

Click here to see just how cost-effective our range of monthly 4G broadband packages are.

Again at today's pricing, the same GB of priority data delivered at usable unthrottled speeds over satellite broadband will cost you over 8 times as much, so at least 70p - and often considerably more.

Latency is the delay in communication between the equipment in your house and the internet. It's measured by a ping test in milliseconds. Latency with traditional landline broadband (like ADSL or fibre) is typically around 10-20ms.

With 4G broadband, latency is a little higher - usually around 30-40ms - because you're communicating wirelessly via a mast that may be up to 8km away - but that small extra delay is not going to affect anything you want to do online.

However with satellite broadband, latency is much higher - at least 10 times higher, running at around 400ms. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that you're connected to the internet via a satellite that's 36,000km away, so the round trip for communication is going to cause noticeable delays within any internet-based activity.

4G coverage is being extended literally every single week - and currently approximately 98% of the UK's population are already within its coverage. Just give us a call on 03333 447700 and we'll be able to let you know instantly which of our 4G broadband services cover your home or business.

However, extremely rarely there may be a very few locations where a strong enough 4G signal simply isn't available yet.

In those circumstances, the only other option to a slow landline-based service would be satellite delivered broadband, because the entire UK already falls under satellite broadband coverage. So, provided that a clear line of sight to the relevant satellite is available from a suitable dish mounting point at your property, you should be able to get a satellite broadband connection.

However, please make sure that you think very carefully about whether satellite broadband would suit you, because of its unavoidable disadvantages as detailed on this page. It really should be viewed as the option of last resort.

Any technology that doesn't use wires to transmit and receive is going to be more subject to interference from external factors, such as high winds, heavy rainfall or snow.

However, with 4G broadband, your property will be connected to a mast that's typically only around 8km away, so your service will be robust and weather conditions would have to be remarkably severe to cause any noticeable degradation in performance.

With satellite broadband, things are a lot more fragile, because you'll be connected to a satellite that's a massive 36,000km away. This means that it's far more likely for a satellite-based connection to be adversely affected by factors such as weather, tree growth or any minute movement in dish alignment.

Finally there's a major difference in the external equipment needed to receive 4G and satellite broadband.

To be able to receive 4G broadband, we'll fit a small and unobtrusive 9 inch by 7 inch high gain directional 4G antenna to the outside of your property.

However, to be able to receive satellite broadband, you'll need a large 30 inch round metal dish with protruding arm fitted to the outside of your property. This is much larger than a Sky TV satellite dish and is also solid metal, rather than mesh, so will be very noticeable.

So why not call us on 03333 447700 - we'll be more than happy to talk with you about your options.