Satellite Internet FAQ

satellite internetSatellite Internet is perhaps one of the least well understood forms of Internet on the mass market.  This frequently asked question (FAQ) should help dispel some of these common misconceptions and bring about a new level of understanding in the realm of satellite internet access.  Without further ado, let’s get to answering some questions!

Question #1: Why Do People Say Satellite Internet is Slow?

Answer #1: Most of the people that say satellite Internet is slow have not tried using it recently or do not really understand the target audience that satellite Internet focuses on.  Satellite Internet used to be significantly slower due to the cost of launching high speed Internet relays, but there is also a simple physics issue that had to be contended with: the delay caused by a 20,000+ mile geosynchronous orbit on a multi-leg trip.

Here is how things used to work: a signal traveling at light speed moves at 186,000 miles every second, but that signal needs to go from your satellite dish to the orbiter that is just over 20,000 miles away and then back to the earth at another point which means another 20,000 mile trip.  If you are waiting on some sort of response, such as a web site to accept your password, well that information takes that same trip of about 40,000 miles and some change back to you.  Doing the math, you will see that the overall distance traveled is going to be at least 80,000 miles and that is for a relatively low orbiting 1st generation geosynchronous relay satellite.  That means a delay of just about a half of a second in a best-case scenario above and beyond other types of networking delays.

The distances also caused lower performance due to the energy required to send, redirect, and send signals to a great many consumers.  These have all been addressed with modern satellites flying at even lower orbits and serving smaller groups of consumers.

Question #2: Who is Satellite Internet Meant For?

Answer #2: While anyone can use Satellite Internet, it may not be the best fit for everyone.  Candidly speaking, most DSL and cable modem companies offer better bang for your buck if all you do is stay in one location and have access to those services.  That being said, not everyone stays in one location, and not all locations are serviced by broadband in this day and age…at least, not DSL and cable anyhow.  Satellite broadband services anyone and everyone with a line of site, making it perfect for remote locations or those on the go with RVs, boats, and so on.

Question #3: How Fast is Satellite Internet?

Answer #3: Satellite broadband is constantly evolving, but it tends to rival low- to mid-grade performance from DSL and cable broadband services.  This still makes satellite internet fairly snappy, though even the low orbit of some satellite networks still causes a very small amount of lag that may irk gamers that look at the numbers rather than play their games.

Question #4: Can I Get Satellite Internet Where I Live?

Answer #4: Unless you literally live deep within a cave, then yes you can get satellite Internet.  Literally all you need is electricity and a line of site to an orbital satellite!  Of course, it would help for you to have a computer or something else to plug your device in to, but that is not totally necessary!

Question #5: How Much Does Satellite Internet Cost?

Answer #5: The price of satellite Internet varies from one company to another and as with all things, you pay more if you want more.  There are some very swift satellite Internet packages on the market that offer some amazing performance for those on the go, but you have to be willing to pay for what you get.

Question #6: What Does the Future of Satellite Internet Look Like?

Answer #6: This is an excellent question, and the answer is that the future of satellite Internet may actually morph into something else.  There are already designers testing high flying electric relay craft that act like micro-orbiters, staying aloft at high altitudes for long durations and capable of intercepting satellite signals and relaying them at a far quicker pace.  Of course, these systems can only operate in good weather, but they are a glimpse into the future for sure.