Satellite broadband - is it the best alternative?
You may have heard of broadband being provided via satellite before, but what does this actually mean? And is it really the best option to solve slow internet problems for rural homes and businesses?
What is satellite broadband?
Satellite broadband is an alternative method of providing an internet connection to a home or business. Much like satellite TV, broadband is beamed from satellites orbiting the earth to a special dish that is installed on a property. That connection then gets hooked up to a WiFi router so that it can be shared by users within that property, again similar to other broadband services.
Who is satellite broadband suitable for?
Satellite broadband is aimed at more remote properties in rural areas that have no access to faster fibre-based broadband of any kind. This may be because the green streetside cabinet serving a property has itself not been fibre-enabled or more likely because the distance between the cabinet and the property is just too far, resulting in any landline broadband service being frustratingly and unavoidably slow.
Satellite broadband advantages
The biggest plus point with satellite broadband is that availability is excellent. Since there's no reliance on cables or wires coming into your home, it's available pretty much anywhere within the entire UK. All that’s required for a successful installation is a clear and uninterrupted line of sight to the relevant section of the sky. Once satellite broadband has been installed, you should notice faster speeds, when compared to ADSL (that's non fibre-based broadband services).
Satellite broadband disadvantages
Service instability. Because the broadband signal has to travel such a distance (into space and back), poorer weather, such as heavy rain, snow, high winds and fog can have a significant impact on a satellite broadband service's performance and reliability.
High latency. The distance the signal has to travel also inevitably causes high levels of something called latency. This is the delay or time lag between an online request being made and the answer being received. This makes satellite broadband not well-suited to applications where real-time feedback is necessary, such as online gaming for example. It can also result in problematic delays when streaming TV on demand or taking part in video calls.
Data caps. Monthly satellite broadband plans tend to feature something called a priority data allowance, so do not offer a truly unlimited internet service. This needs a little explanation: a monthly satellite broadband package may be described as 'unlimited', but you may well find that it actually features a 'priority data allowance'. If this allowance was 50GB for example, this would mean that the first 50GB of data you got through in any month would get transmitted at the highest speed available. However after you'd used that amount, your speeds would then automatically be throttled to slower levels for the remainder of the month.
High cost. Cost is definitely also something to consider. First off, the initial set-up costs for satellite broadband tend to be notably more expensive than other types of broadband service. And the monthly charges satellite broadband plans with a reasonable amount of data allowance are also typically twice the price of other types of internet connection.
Who offers satellite broadband?
A couple of the better-known providers in the UK are listed below:
Are there better alternative broadband options to consider first?
Yes there absolutely are. If you're in a location where landline broadband is poor, before considering satellite broadband, you should first check out whether you're covered by 4G broadband.
Over the last 5 or so years, 4G broadband has become acknowledged as by far the best alternative broadband solution for those suffering with slow internet. Although it doesn't yet have the 100% coverage that satellite broadband does, it's already available to well over 95% of all UK homes and businesses. Best of all, 4G broadband is faster, much better value and offers truly unlimited monthly data.
If you're in a strong 4G signal area, you'll only need a 4G router plus SIM card with an appropriate monthly plan attached to get up and running. Locations that struggle with weaker 4G coverage can still be provided with fast and stable broadband over 4G by having a high strength antenna installed. And that includes places where mobile phones may show little or even no 4G signal.
Our parent company National Broadband has years of experience in delivering life-changingly higher speed broadband to those primarily rural properties with the slowest internet connections. Find out more by clicking below.