Is Satellite Internet a Good Deal for You?

You may have heard that satellite Internet is reliable and can reach just about anywhere… but is it really for you?

Satellite Internet service is one of those technologies that was little more than a gleam in some engineer’s eye 15 years ago. We’ve had satellite TV for a while now; you just point a parabolic receiver at the right Earth-orbiting satellite and you can pull in a signal. Easy-peasy.

The technology is mature, and unsurprisingly, it’s now been applied to that most popular of modern phenomena — the World Wide Web. But don’t just choose this form of connectivity because it’s cool. As a savvy consumer, it may not be the best deal for you.

The Pros

The greatest thing about satellite-based Internet service is the fact that, as I’ve alluded to above, you can get it just about anywhere. It’s ideal if you live in a deeply rural location where you can’t get a broadband connection any other way.

If you already depend on a satellite connection for your television service, then you’ll probably be able to piggyback Internet onto your TV package. Most satellite TV networks offer Internet options now, just like traditional cable networks do.

Even better, in recent years competition has driven the prices down to affordable levels, comparable to other broadband options.

The Cons

If you’re aiming strictly for Internet, the setup cost for a satellite system can be high — up to hundreds of dollars just to get the equipment in place. However, this situation is also improving, and networks desperate for your business can offer some pretty sweet deals.

Otherwise, the biggest problems are those you face with any satellite connection. Sunspots and other extreme solar weather can temporarily disrupt satellite communications, and Earthly weather can do the same.

But the reality nowadays is that with uptime rates of 99%, satellite ‘Net connections are comparable to DSL or cable broadband. Latency (the amount of time it takes data packets to actually load) used to be widely cited as a satellite Internet issue, but the providers have just about licked that problem.

The Bottom Line

Five years ago, I would have told you to avoid satellite-based Internet services unless you had no real choice in the matter. The latency issues, cost, and difficulty of setting everything up were pains that you could avoid with other forms of broadband.

But because the satellite providers have focused so hard on overcoming these deficiencies, today’s “dish” Internet is as reliable and affordable as any other format. So I recommend that you keep your options open, and consider satellite along with all the other possibilities.

Your best bet is to get price rundowns from all the available local providers, and do some comparison shopping. If satellite Internet is your best broadband option, then why not go for it?