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Best Satellite Internet Providers for 2016

What is the best satellite internet service?

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Satellite Internet Reviews

While many people receive their internet services through cables and phone lines, some people who are unable to obtain access to high speed internet via these methods due to factors such as location, so they must look for their best satellite internet option.

The idea of going back to dial-up services is somewhat primitive to most people these days. If you live in a rural area, far away from high speed internet grids, your options are limited. However, the best satellite internet providers present a viable option. I've come up with what I think are your top options for 2016.

Best Satellite Internet: What to Consider

Our increased reliance on the internet means that we all crave faster speeds but for those who do not have access to traditional internet service providers, this could be an issue. Satellite internet has proven ideal for many people who live in these hard to reach areas. Latency is a drawback to satellite internet.

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 it can reach any location, so it is a viable option for those who live in remote areas. Our top five satellite internet service provider reviews should help to make your decision quicker and easier.

With a number of different satellite internet service providers now offering services, it is important for anyone considering this type of service to do their research. Finding a high-speed satellite service is important, but Remember, it is not just the speed of the service that can vary from one provider to another but also the cost and additional features.

Whether you use it for work, education, entertainment, or shopping, the internet forms an important part of people's day to day 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

Looking at all of these factors will allow you to make a far more informed decision with regards to finding the ideal provider and satellite internet plan for your needs. Be sure to read through the reviews of my top picks DishNet, Exede and HughesNet as well as have a look through the articles on satellite internet aimed to help you make a well-informed decision.

Satellite Internet Providers

Company Monthly Fee Download Speed Upload Speed Learn More
Monthly Fee $29.99-89.99 Download Speed 5-15Mbps Upload Speed 1-2Mbps Learn More
Monthly Fee $49.99-149.99 Download Speed 12-25Mbps Upload Speed 3-3Mbps Learn More
Monthly Fee $39.99-79.99 Download Speed 5-10Mbps Upload Speed 1-2Mbps Learn More

Fastest Satellite Internet - Is Latency a Deal Breaker?

In the battle of the top internet providers, satellite internet has some advantages over other types of providers like dial-up, iDSL and fiber-optics. It has nationwide coverage, reaching even rural areas with the unique vantage point of a geostationary orbit (more on that later) and your connection is not affected by TV or phone use. However, one thing that has consistently been a thorn in the side of satellite providers is latency.

What is Latency?

Latency is a term used to describe the time between a stimulus and response. In normal language, it means the time it takes for a command to produce a result. In terms of communication, it is the result of a universal speed limit for signals that are sent and received. No signal goes faster than the speed of light, even though light seems like it travels in an instant it actually doesn't. Even terrestrial (earth-based) internet signals experience latency.

A signal traveling between New York and Australia technically takes longer than one traveling between New York and Boston, although you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Plus, latency is caused by more than just distance. Slow data processing also contributes to some delays.

What Does Latency Mean for Satellite Users?

For satellites, latency is an even bigger issue than it is for terrestrial internet providers because the signal has to travel much farther. An internet provider's satellites orbit the Earth in a geostationary orbit which means they rotate with the earth over one fixed location above the equator. So if a satellite is directly above the equator, it is always above the equator even as the earth rotates. A geostationary orbit is a little over 22,000 miles above the earth, so a signal traveling from the provider to the satellite and back down to your dish travels over 44,000 miles. To put this in perspective, the distance between New York and Australia is 10,421 miles.

Because of this, a signal traveling at the speed of light to a satellite and back takes about one fourth of a second which contributes to a latency that is 20 times higher than any earth based provider. However, this is still very fast. Much of the latency issues that satellite subscribers have dealt with in the past were due to limited data processing technology. As the tech improves latency is lowered even for satellite internet providers. On the other hand, it can never get fast than the speed of light will allow.

What Will Latency Affect?

Anything that requires low-latency will be negatively affected by satellite internet use, but the things that have been difficult to do on satellite internet in the past have improved with new technologies.

  • Regular Web Browsing - High-speed satellite internet is an acceptable option for web browsing, and you shouldn't notice any significant delays.
  • Downloads - Download speeds are much higher than dial-up but aren't as fast as fiber optics.
  • Streaming - This is something that used to be difficult with satellite but is now possible. You can stream video without many noticeable interruptions.
  • Gaming - Slower paced puzzle and RPG (role playing games) can be played via satellite connections without much issue. However, competitive shooters and fighters that require quick reactions may be frustrating to play, especially if your opponent has a faster terrestrial connection.

For most intended purposes, satellite latency is not a deal breaker. Today, technology has gotten to a point that limits latency and allows for satellite users to experience the internet in relatively the same way that everyone else does.

How to Choose the Best Satellite Internet Provider

Decisions, decisions! There are a variety of options in this market. I always suggest going with the more well-known, reputable, established companies. Having a reliable and trustworthy source of the internet could not be over emphasised. Modern life can be so dependent on a secure internet connection; most people cannot afford to be left hanging! Because you will probably be under contract, and your service will most likely be a long-term commitment, (for at least a year in the majority of cases), it is imperative that you do your research and are entirely comfortable with the provider you settle on.

Other factors, such as availability, may play into your decision. If you are in an especially remote locale, your options may be further limited. If more than one option is available to you, learn about each of them thoroughly. Find out what's available and within your budget, explore what the ideal plans are, and get a feel for what speeds, how much data, and exactly the type of service you're looking for.

Meet the Best Satellite Internet Providers

Taking the above factors into consideration, I've compiled this list of the top five best satellite services. Take a look at these best satellite internet reviews before choosing a service:

  • Price$29.99-89.99
  • Download5-15Mbps
  • Upload1-2Mbps
  • Data Limit5-50GB
  • Equipment Fee$9.99/mo.

HughesNet Internet Review

  • Pros
  • A long established provider
  • Excellent range of customer service options
  • Decent speeds with base package
  • Excellent speeds with Power MAX plan
  • Generous data allowance with bonus GB
  • Cons
  • Does not offer any bundled services
  • Not suitable for heavy gamers due to latency
  • Actual speeds are slower than advertised

A longtime player in the industry of satellite internet, HughesNet has been in existence for over 30 years, and currently has 2.5 million systems in place for customers across the globe. With their innovative and exclusive Gen4 technology, they boast some of the fastest speeds in satellite internet. For watching videos, downloading files, checking email, and simply just surfing the web, their 15 Mbps speed is an excellent option. Considering that many of their competitors offer speeds at a significantly lesser rate, if you want exceptionally fast speed in satellite, this may be your best option. An additional asset HughesNet offers is their Express Repair, which supplies technical support whenever you need it over the phone, 24/7. However, if the problem is not within your abilities of solving with assistance, HughesNet will dispatch a technician. However, one downside is that they do not offer any bundled services, so there is no option to save money on your service that way.

  • Price$49.99-149.99
  • Download12-25Mbps
  • Upload3-3Mbps
  • Data Limit10-30GB
  • Equipment Fee$9.99/mo.

Exede Internet Review

  • Pros
  • Well known provider with a solid reputation
  • High speeds with all plans
  • Little difference in speed between peak and slow times
  • Late night free zone for unmetered bandwidth usage
  • Competitive pricing
  • Cons
  • No standard 30 day return policy/cooling off period
  • No live chat facility for customer support

Exede has some great internet plans, and they offer a lot of things no one else in the satellite internet game is doing. For example, their Freedom Plan offers the closest thing to an unlimited package around. 12 Mbps is their standard download speed, with 3 Mbps as their upload speed, both being fairly speedy for this type of internet connection. Their Freedom Plan is an excellent choice for those in need of unlimited access without a data limit. Unfortunately though, this plan is only available in select areas. They offer 25GB of data monthly, which is average for the industry, however they also offer the option of purchasing additional data if need be. Conveniently, and cost-effectively, DIRECTV service can be bundled with Exede internet for added savings.

  • Price$39.99-79.99
  • Download5-10Mbps
  • Upload1-2Mbps
  • Data Limit5-15GB
  • Equipment Fee$9.99/mo.

Dish Internet Review

  • Pros
  • Reputable brand that has been around for years
  • Entry level and comprehensive package available
  • Discounts and fee waiver available on bundles
  • Up to 30GB monthly data plans available
  • Get up to 10Mbps
  • Cons
  • Speeds considerably slower than cable internet
  • Not ideal for heavy gamers due to poor latency
  • Not BBB accredited

DishNet is extremely popular for their great prices, especially in regards to their bundled services, which can include television and phone service. As one of the most reliable and readily available internet choices, DishNet satellite internet is widely available in all 50 states. They do not have the same level of high speeds as others in the industry, however they offer exceptional affordability. 10 Mbps is their standard download speed, and 5 Mbps is their upload speed. Most plans come with a standard 50GB of data available for use at off-peak times. Another aspect to consider is that the technology involved is continuously evolving, and companies are always developing new advancements to improve the level of quality; DishNet is always on point with this. Along these lines, DishNet boasts some of the most steadfast internet connections, designed to work in any weather conditions.

Shopping for The Best Satellite Internet Service: The Basics

The standard satellite Internet service will offer:

  • Internet access in nearly all locations, particularly convenient for those who do not have access to DSL/ Cable connections for their service.
  • Depending on the company and plan chosen, a high-speed internet connection that can offer reliably fast connection for downloads, uploads, browsing, and email.
  • The ability to play games, download movies, watch videos, and check email quickly and conveniently without annoying interruptions.
  • Unlimited usage during overnight/ off-peak hours.
  • Great customer support that handles customer requests, concerns, questions, troubleshooting, and problems quickly, efficiently, and in a timely manner.

Satellite Internet Providers - Important Things to Keep In Mind

Convenience - Internet through satellite is exceptionally convenient because you are always connected to the Internet with it, unlike dial-up services. You are continuously online, and phone lines and/ or cable lines will not interfere/ affect your connection.

For those who live in remote and rural areas, satellite internet can be a lifesaver, and a legitimate option for a decent, high-speed internet option. It can be installed practically anywhere, and operates without a cable or DSL connection.

Inconvenience - The big inconvenience, with even with the fastest satellite internet provider, is that you are entirely at the mercy of the weather. Powerful winds, rain, moisture, and other factors based on the meteorological environment can factor into your service and the quality of the reception. If you live in a particularly prone location to weather that can be volatile and/or unpredictable, you may want to reconsider this method of internet service.

However, it must be known that, in 2016, the technology is continuously being advanced and many companies have developed technologies to counter negative effects that come as a result of the weather.

An additional factor to keep in mind is latency, which is a delay in transmission, also known as "ping time," as a result of using satellite technology. Satellite technology literally is, technology from the geostationary orbiting satellites in space, more than 20,000 miles above the equator, sending signals to a satellite dish. Your ability to connect relies on these signals. If you are going online to predominantly play games, download large videos, and use voice over internet protocol (VOIP), you may find satellite internet incapable of meeting your demand.

Best Satellite Internet: What Type of Service Do You Actually Need?

Well, it depends on your individual needs. If you spend a lot of time on the internet, and you intend on gaming, watching movies streamed from the internet, and you work with a lot of heavy files, you will not be pleased with the offerings from smaller data plans. If you happen to be a night owl, you're in luck since most companies offer unlimited usage during late night hours. If you opt for a lower-data plan, and go over the limit, you will get charged some hefty amounts, so that's something you need to keep in mind. If you aren't going to be partaking in a lot of activity that requires substantial data, and you plan on checking email and doing simple browsing, a lesser data plan may be convenient for you.

Individual needs vary, however for most people, due to the demands of today's modern lifestyles in which we are extremely dependent upon the internet, the faster the speed, the better. While this can be a challenge at times with satellite, the technology is continuously changing and improving to be able to meet the needs of society.

1. Are Your Needs Being Met?

When selecting a brand, do your most to see what other consumers are saying by checking out reviews on the service, their level of satisfaction, and what the company truly provides. This will give you an inclination as to how you can expect to be regarded, and how likely you are to be satisfied, based on your needs. It is highly important that you research the brands in the market, and have a good idea about what's available to you before selecting and committing to one.

2. Don't Settle For the First Quote You See

It's never a good idea to just run with the first quote you're given. Shop around and get quotes from other companies offering similar services to ensure you get the optimum price for the services you need.

3. Do Not Forget to Take Advantage of Discount Bundles

Many companies are great about offering service bundles when you add additional services onto your current tab. When it comes to satellite intent, the most common services to be bundled with it are satellite television and voice phone services. These discounts that come as a result of bundling can save you a lot of money, both monthly and over the long term expense of maintaining separate services.

Individual needs vary, however for most people, due to the demands of today's modern lifestyles in which we are extremely dependent upon the internet, the faster the speed, the better. While this can be a challenge at times with satellite, the technology is continuously changing and improving to be able to meet the needs of society.

Best Satellite Internet Customer Service

Customer service is so important! The last thing you want or need is to be left hanging when you need support, help with a problem, or have an issue that requires immediate attention. Ensure to do your research regarding this step, see how other customers rate their ability to handle customers' needs because that will give a clear indication as to whether or not you will be treated similarly.

Advice for Finding the Best Satellite Internet Service

Before choosing a satellite internet provider, take a look at my advice section to familiarize yourself with the finer points of the industry. Here are topics to explore:

  • How can you choose the right satellite internet for your budget? Plans vary from inexpensive to high-priced, so it is essential that you do your homework to know exactly the service you need, and at what price. Some providers offer discounted rates when you bundle their services, like television and phone service to increase the value and lower the overall cost. It is also common for some brands to waive activation and sign-up fees when you bundle services. Affordable options are very much available in the market of satellite internet, however for those who are willing and able to pay more, the quality of service and availability of higher speeds is also a possibility depending on the plan chosen. Another consideration is the availability of companies to choose from. In some areas, some companies are not available at all.
  • Who needs satellite Internet? Satellite internet is typically used by those living in rural, remote, or off-the-grid places where standard modes of internet (cable, DSL) are not an option. 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.

Satellite Internet Review Recap

With the range of satellite internet services on the increase this year, there is now more choice than ever for those who struggle to get standard wired internet services. By doing your research and making the right choice, you can benefit from a solid, affordable, and reliable alternative to traditional internet services even if you live in a hard to reach rural area.

If you live closer to an urban area, satellite internet might not be your only option. Take a look at the best internet providers, for a higher speed option.

If you want a wider selection of the best tv providers, take a look at our review of the top cable and satellite television providers.

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We moved out into the country in June of 2015 and needed internet. All the other landline companies said they didn't service our address. Hughesnet was our 2nd satellite internet company. Sure, they bait you with what you want to hear. "you'll get great service." "You'll get to do whatever you want to do on the internet." "if you have any problems, just call us, we'll take care of you." ALL LIES! The service sucked. We couldn't even watch a video from facebook or even watch Netflix. When we called with our issues, their answer was, "you'll have to upgrade your package." After paying $70 per month for 11 months and having to increase our data plans on our cell phones, to use our internet on our cell phones, we called to cancel as we finally got service with a landline company offering DSL. When I called today, they were more than willing to bend over backwards so we didn't leave but it was too late. I had a customer service rep telling me my perception of the problem wasn't reality and hughesnet has great service. It came down to the fact that we were promised a good working product. That didn't happen. We got screwed. Classic bait and switch and they try prevent you from leaving with a $250 early termination fee. (good reputable companies wouldn't have that) Their service sucks as well as their customer service. Do not go with them! You will regret it.

Questions & Answers About Best Satellite Internet Providers

How does satellite internet work?

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.

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

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.

How does satellite affect online gaming and streaming?

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.

What are the best speeds available for satellite Internet?

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.

How often does weather affect a satellite Internet signal?

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.

How many HD channels come with the package?

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.

Are there any advantages with satellite Internet?

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.

Is There a Limit on Bandwidth?

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.

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Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.

Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.