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The Best Satellite Internet Providers

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The Best Satellite Internet Providers
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The best satellite Internet should provide reliable and affordable service competitive with the more traditional cable and DSL Internet providers in your area.

If you live in a rural area far away from high-speed Internet grid - and cannot make do with a dial-up Internet connection - or are unhappy with your current ISP, it's time to consider satellite Internet.

Your choices may be limited, but we've reviewed are viable options. When doing our research, cost and Internet speed was at the top of our list.

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Satellite Internet operates slightly differently than your cable Internet providers, so you want to make sure you are getting good value for your dollar.

Our review of the top satellite Internet providers should help you find a company that best suits your needs.

Key Considerations When Buying a Satellite Internet

Whether you use it for work, education, entertainment, or shopping, the Internet forms an important part of people's daily lives these days. This is why you need to make sure you choose the right satellite Internet service provider for your needs.

Some of the factors to look at when selecting a service provider or satellite Internet package include:

  • Choice of packages and plans available, including bundled plans
  • The speed and bandwidth available
  • Cost of the services
  • Features of the individual plans
  • Reviews and ratings for the provider
  • Reputation for customer service and troubleshooting

Other factors, such as availability, may play into your decision. If you are in an especially remote locale, your options may be further limited. For instance, if you reside in a mobile home or in an RV, you may want to purchase RV satellite Internet, but RV satellite Internet service is far from cheap.

The Best Satellite Internet Provider: HughesNet

There's no denying that satellite TV is a lifesaver if you live in a more rural area. That's right, it's the reliable internet that you can get pretty much anywhere.

In the battle of HughesNet and ViaSat (the nations top satellite providers) we've chosen Hughesnet as our top pick. Here's why:

  • Speed - Each HughesNet plan can support several devices.
  • Coverage - As we said, satellite coverage is the best.
  • Price - HughesNet offers cheaper plans than ViaSat.
  • Contract Commitment - Keep your sign up price for the entire length of your contract.

Although HughesNet is crushing it in some of the most top categories they're lacking in some of the most basic ones such as:

  • Customer Service - HughesNet has been known to have a low customer service rating.
  • Speed Limitations - HughesNet data caps reduce your speed after you allocated billed amount.

HughesNet Internet Plans & Prices

Provider/PackageDownload SpeedMonthly Price
Hughesnet Internet 10GB25 Mbps$59.99
Hughesnet Internet 20GB25 Mbps$69.99

Runner Up Satellite Internet Provider: ViaSat

Here at MoneySavingPro, we're all about saving a couple bucks and ViaSat satellite internet, formerly known as Exede, gives you more bang for your buck.

Here are some of the main reasons why you might choose ViaSat over HughesNet.

  • Speed - ViaSat has recorded speeds that range from 25-100 Mbps.
  • Quality - HughesNet may have some cheaper plans but ViaSat gives you more bang for your buck.
  • No Data Caps - With ViaSat, unlimited truly is unlimited.

There are a few reasons why ViaSat comes in as number two in our book:

  • Better Deals - Unfortunately, the satellite doesn't necessarily come cheap so if you're looking to save a bundle you'll want to check out other internet options in your area first.
  • Contract Prices - You may have gotten an introductory rate but keep in mind it's only good for a few months. Then your bill goes up.
  • Speed Limitations - The speed of your ViaSat internet is entirely based on your location.

Viasat Internet Plans & Prices

Provider/PackageDownload SpeedMonthly Price
Vissat Unlimited Bronze 1212 Mbps$50.00
Viasat Unlimited Silver 2525 Mbps$70.00
Viasat Unlimited Gold 3030 Mbps$100.00

What is Satellite Internet?

Satellite Internet uses satellites in geostationary orbit (rotating around the earth above the equator) that relays signals between ground stations that are transmitting data by radio waves and a small dish transceiver.

In other words, Internet signal is sent from the provider, bounces off the satellite and is received by a dish that is placed outside a home. It takes about a fourth of a second for a signal to reach a satellite in orbit and come back.

However, because of its high orbit, the satellite can reach any location, so it is a viable option for those who live in remote areas.

If you're in a rural area, it is important to understand that, on average, high-speed Internet via satellite is about 178 times faster compared to dial-up Internet.

Satellite Internet providers offer their customers these basic services:

  • A high-speed Internet connection that can offer a reliable fast connection for downloads, uploads, browsing, and email.
  • The Internet no longer goes through your telephone line, particularly convenient for those who are still on dial-up connections.
  • The ability to play games, download movies, watch videos, and check email quickly and conveniently.
  • Unlimited usage during overnight and off-peak hours.

Satellite Internet for RVs

Satellite isn't just available to your typical homeowner. In fact, it's available for those of us who are always on the go with Mobile/RV satellite internet.

Although wireless broadband coverage is always improving and many consumers are happy with traditional Internet access, good coverage still isn't available in places like far west Texas, deep in the Rocky Mountains, or in the woods of northern Maine.

If you live life on the go and typically travel beyond any cellular coverage map, then satellite Internet access is an incredible option to consider. The initial investment can be quite substantial, however. Some satellite dishes for RVs can be up to $1,000--and that doesn't include any installation fees.

You'll find, though, that your investment is continually justified when your mobile satellite dish streams your favorite channels while on the road or at the campsite.

Satellite Internet Providers by ZIP Code

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If you live in a rural area, you may be one of the 76% of Americans who live in remote areas without high-speed Internet. Because of our increased reliance on the Internet, making sure you have a fast, reliable connection is important.

For those who live in rural areas, satellite Internet is the proven way to offer high-speed Internet access.

Read More: If you're a more "hardcore" gamer, you should check out our review of the best internet providers for gaming

Though some people who are not in remote locations opt for this method, as it often comes at a great price when bundled with other services, it is not the top choice of those who have other options.

Recap

You can benefit from a solid, affordable, and reliable alternative to traditional Internet services even if you live in a hard to reach rural areas. To check if satellite Internet is offered near you, check out our handy ZIP code checker tool.

If you live close to an urban area, satellite Internet might not be your only option. You can compare different packages in our review of the best Internet providers.

If you want to bundle together satellite Internet and satellite TV, check out our review of the best satellite TV providers.

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Satellite Internet Providers FAQs

QIs there satellite Internet?

A

Yes there is! Satellite internet offers users high speed internet access through a system of satellites stationed around the planet. These satellites are generally place in geosynchronous orbit so that they are always located above the same part of Earth. This lets these satellites offer speeds as high as 50Mbps.

QHow does satellite internet work?

A

Satellite internet uses satellites in geostationary orbit (rotating around the earth above the equator) that relays signals between ground stations that are transmitting data by radio waves and a small dish transceiver. In other words, internet signal is sent from the provider, bounces off the satellite and is received by a dish that is placed outside a home.

A satellite subscriber needs a satellite dish that is fixed facing south towards the equator. It is best to set one up high on a rooftop, balcony or pole with a clear path to the sky without obstructing trees, buildings, or telephones in the way. Inside, you will need a modem that connects your network to the transceiver outside. The modem and the dish can be connected by a coaxial cable that carries electromagnetic signals and is limited to 150 feet or less in length. An Ethernet cable connects the modem and the computer.

QHow do satellite internet speeds compare to other high-speed internet technologies?

A

The geosynchronous satellites of satellite internet providers orbit the earth over 22,000 miles above the equator. This means that the data that updates your Facebook feed travels over 44,000 miles to get from the provider to your home. Typically this takes about a 4th of a second. But does this great distance affect speeds? Well, yes it does. Because the distance a satellite signal travels is around 20 times longer than a typical ground system something called latency occurs, even though satellite signals travel at the speed of light. Latency is a delay between a command and a response and this can contribute to slower speeds but other things like data processing can be bigger contributors to slower speeds.

That being said, general web surfing shouldn't be noticeably different but downloading or streaming speeds may be significantly slower than a DSL, fiber optic options and even cable. However, as technology grows satellite data processing speeds are getting faster. Plus, what satellite lacks in speed it gains in availability. Someone in more remote areas may have problems finding a reliable terrestrial internet provider but satellite service is available almost anywhere.

QHow much is Dish Network Internet?

A

Dish Network offers satellite internet packages that range in price from $49.99 to $79.99 per month. Higher priced plans have higher data limits than lower priced plans. If you bundle your satellite television and satellite internet packages together, you can save up to $10 per month, or $120 per year.

QHow fast is Dish High Speed Internet?

A

Dish Network's satellite internet's speed differs based on your location and service plan. The basic service plan offers speeds of 5Mbps down and 1Mbps up in rural areas, with a cap of 10GB per month. Higher level service plans offer speeds as high as 10Mbps download and 5Mbps upload.

QWhat is a satellite network?

A

A satellite network is a group of satellites that are placed in low Earth orbit and form a communication chain with each other. This enables a station somewhere on Earth to communicate with a station anywhere else on Earth by sending a message to the nearest satellite, which relays the message to the other station, through satellites in the network.

QHow does satellite affect online gaming and streaming?

A

Of course, streaming video online games requires a decent internet connection if you don't want movies to pause for loading every 10 seconds and any gamer knows your connection can make or break online play. But is satellite a good option for when you want to take your internet connection beyond simple web browsing?

Well, for many people in more rural areas where cable, DSL, and fiber optics aren't available satellite is the only option. While satellite has a further reach than wired internet services, it is much more fickle with its signal reliability. Satellite signals can be better or worse depending on distance from the source, weather and objects obstructing the dish. These factors, plus the provider's data processing speeds, contribute to something called latency which is when there is a delay between commands and results.

Because of this, certain types of online gaming can be negatively affected. First-person shooters and fighting games largely rely on quick flinch reactions and real time strategy games require split second decisions. Players of these games may become frustrated when their connection gives them a disadvantage. However, co-operative puzzle games, online board games and turn based RPGs can viably be played on a satellite because they require more in-depth strategy and problem solving rather than quick reactions.

Satellite providers can't control the weather or distance but the technology of processing speeds is always growing so the viability of even quick gaming. Video streaming is less affected but when latency is bad stuttering or stopping may happen.

QWhat are the best speeds available for satellite Internet?

A

When looking at satellite Internet speeds, you will not be getting the same speeds as you would with cable or fiber optic systems. At present, the highest speed available anywhere is 15 Mbps. This is fast enough for movies and for most any other purposes you need.

QHow often does weather affect a satellite Internet signal?

A

It is true that bad weather can affect a TV signal from a satellite. Since satellites are more directly overhead for the southern states, northern ones are apt to see a few more problems when bad weather occurs. Generally, there are not a lot of problems caused by weather, except in a few very heavy rainfalls. If there are a lot of problems with fading signals, it could be because the dish has not been aligned correctly, or because snow, water, or ice has built up on it. In northern states, a dish that comes with a built-in heater is needed. Be aware that cable can also go out during a power outage.

QHow many HD channels come with the package?

A

If you like to watch movies in HD, you will want to look into how many HD channels come with the package. Some companies will only offer a few, while others may give you more than 200. Remember that for HD faster speeds are better.

QAre there any advantages with satellite Internet?

A

There is one powerful advantage. If you are anywhere in the United States, particularly in the South, you can receive a signal from the satellite, as long as there is a clear path to the satellite. You will need to have a satellite dish attached to your home or business, and you are limited to a fixed location. In order for you to get the service, the satellite company will need to have offices nearby.

QIs There a Limit on Bandwidth?

A

Satellite companies do place a limit on the bandwidth used by their customers. The limits on bandwidth are set by the package you buy. When those limits are met, the Internet service will typically slow down considerably. Movies will use a considerable amount of bandwidth (500 Mb average), and, as you might expect, HD movies use even more. Because of the difference between users in the day and late at night, some satellite Internet companies permit unlimited bandwidth in the early morning hours.