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What are the Pros and Cons of Satellite Internet vs. Cable Internet?

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Choosing between satellite, cable and internet providers for your home or business can seem overwhelming. Although some areas provide wireless internet, most people select either a cable or satellite internet service provider (ISP). One of the reasons they are popular is because they are the two most widely available types of internet service in the U.S.  Both options have pros and cons to consider. Comparing the features of internet service will help you decide which one fulfills your needs the best.

The Pros and Cons of Cable vs. Satellite Internet

Most of us are fortunate enough to take internet service for granted. Whether at home, work, or driving from one place to another, we can connect with the rest of the world by pushing a few buttons. It may surprise you to learn that millions of Americans do not have easy access to the internet. Worldwide, that number grows to nearly 4 billion people.

A lack of infrastructure is the main obstacle to internet service for many. Satellite internet has helped to bridge the gap. In places where cable is not yet available or affordable, satellite technology provides the most practical and least expensive option for internet service.

If you are deciding between satellite and cable internet, the first step is to understand your technology needs. A house full of gamers and budding social media stars has different internet needs than an individual who only uses the internet to check email and make a few online purchases.

The Technology

Cable

There are national and local Cable internet providers. Services can be purchased separately or as part of a bundle with phone and broadcast television. Discounted rates are offered to customers who bundle all their services with one provider.

Like cable TV, cable internet uses a coaxial cable network to bring the internet into your home. Your ISP transmits data through the coaxial cables to a modem. The modem then forwards the data signal to an internet router and onto your WiFi system.

Equipment needed for cable technology is relatively small and easy to conceal from view.  The internet company provides the modem, Ethernet cable, and router(at an additional cost). All of the devices needed to get you connected are the property of the provider unless you provide your own router. If they provide the router, it is the responsibility of the provider to repair or replace equipment that doesn't work. If you cancel your service, you must return the equipment that they own.

Satellite

Satellite internet requires three different satellites to send an internet signal to your home.  A satellite in space sends signals to a satellite that belongs to your internet service provider here on earth. Then your ISP sends data signals to the satellite installed on your home’s exterior. Like cable internet, satellite technology also requires a modem, router, and Ethernet cable.

Depending on your provider, you may be required to pay for the satellite and its installation. The good news is that you own the satellite. The bad news is that you own the satellite. If you should decide to cancel your satellite service, it is your responsibility to dispose of the equipment properly.

Keep in mind that a satellite dish contains toxic substances that cannot be put in the landfill.

Reliability

Cable

Cable internet is generally more reliable than satellite because data signals are transmitted via a physical cable. Interruptions rarely happen with cable service. Downed trees, major rain or windstorms and accidents can cause service to be out for hours or even days. However, outage occurrences are typically rare and short-lived.

Satellite

A satellite must be installed with unobstructed views of the satellites for the best interception. The ideal placement is on your roof or atop a high wooden pole. Your service provider will help you orientate the dish correctly. Trees, buildings and other physical obstacles can block satellite signals if not installed properly.

Bad weather such as snow and other atmospheric disturbances can impact the quality of a satellite signal.  For these reasons, satellite internet is more vulnerable to interruption depending on the weather.  On the upside, local internet outages won't affect your satellite service because it isn't dependent on a local provider.

The Internet Speed

Cable

Cable internet speed capability typically ranges between 20 and 100 megabits per second (Mbps). Some top-performing providers offer download speeds that exceed 100 Mbps. The average modern household of four typically needs about 50 Mbps or more to function.

If speed is crucial to your internet use, it’s important to realize your bandwidth is shared with fellow subscribers in your area. Download speeds could be seriously impacted during peak usage hours.

Satellite

Satellite internet is a good choice for small households with light internet use such as checking email or surfing the web. However, at download speeds of about 15 Mbps, it is too slow for gaming, streaming, or for families with multiple devices. On the plus side, the quality of service is not impacted by other users.

The Availability

Both cable and internet service via satellite are widely available. Satellite can provide connection virtually anywhere. Customers in rural areas often choose satellite internet when other providers aren’t available or running cables would be too costly. However, cable is available to approximately 90% of users nationwide.

VPN Compatibility

If you need a virtual private network (VPN) to protect internet privacy at home or need to connect multiple devices for the office, both options will work. However, satellite may not have fast enough speeds for video meetings at a home office.

The Cost

Prices for both types of internet service vary by region, company, and service needs. If you already have TV service through cable or satellite, it’s a good idea to ask your provider about bundle packages. Bundling television, internet, and phone service with one company can save money all around.

Cable

According to the Federal Communications Commission, consumers pay an average of about $66 for internet access from a cable service. When you lease their router, your maintenance cost is zero. Since the leased equipment belongs to the ISP, they are responsible for any repair or maintenance.

Satellite

Satellite internet is more expensive at around $100 a month. If your provider requires you to purchase a satellite, you assume all maintenance and repair. If the unit needs to be replaced, that cost also comes from your pocket. Satellite internet may be the most cost-effective and only option if you live in an unserved location.

Data Caps and Overage Fees

Data caps are pre-set limits on the amount of data you are allowed to use within a billing period. If you go over that pre-set limit, you are charged an overage fee. Some cable services offer unlimited data, while many satellite services do impose a cap.

Choosing Between Cable and Internet Providers that Use Satellite Technology

Cable and internet providers who offer satellite are both good options. If you still can’t decide which provider is best for your home or office, contact the experts at Teleful Connect. Teleful specializes in connecting home and business owners with the country’s best internet providers. We can show you options to meet any need or budget, including bundle plans to save the most money. At Teleful we make it easier for you to connect with the world.