Want to shift to a new internet service for your home or business? And do you know which one to choose?
Selecting a new internet service can be challenging as numerous internet service providers offer various plans at different prices. Familiarity with your internet requirements can help you make a calculated decision. Knowing the different types of internet connections and ISPs available in your area can give you further insight into a suitable internet connection for you.
There is still a wide digital divide between urban and rural areas. Those living in cities are fortunate enough to avail of fiber broadband and other services, whereas their rural counterparts barely have any options at their disposal. So, if you live in an area where cable and satellite services are both available, you might be somewhat confused between them. Today we’ll be comparing cable and satellite internet, internet providers who provide these connections, and other factors that can come in handy when you make your final decision.
Satellite internet relies on satellites orbiting the Earth to provide its services. It provides wireless connectivity and is not bound by wires or cellular towers like other internet services. This independence makes it the only internet service available nationwide and the only option for the rural population to get an online connection.
Satellite internet uses a dish antenna at your premise to transmit data to and from the orbiting satellites in space. Its extensive coverage makes it an ideal choice for people in remote areas where options are limited to Digital Subscriber Line (DSL).
- Nationwide availability
- Faster than DSL
- Less expensive than mobile hotspots
- Improving due to latest innovations
- High latency
- Data caps
- Gets disturbed by the weather
Satellite Internet Providers
We live in an era of the internet, an era where everything is reliant on it. Whether it’s studying, earning a living, or even indulging in mundane daily activities require a stable internet connection. People in remote areas don’t have many internet options, and satellite internet is sometimes their only way to stay connected to the outside world.
There are currently two satellite internet providers which cover the entire United States, namely HughesNet and Viasat. They are a bit more expensive than other types of connections, but they can fulfill your internet requirements with their customized plans, discounts, and decent speeds.
- HughesNet provides 25 Mbps internet speed with data caps ranging from 10 – 50 GB for a price ranging from $49.99 to $139.99
- Viasat provides 12 Mbps -100 Mbps internet speeds with data caps ranging from 80 – 300 GB for a price ranging from $50 to $150
- Viasat Internet Plans also offer unlimited data with 12 Mbps – 30 Mbps internet speeds for $89.99 to $149.99
Satellite Internet Pricing
Compared to cable internet, satellite internet is more costly. Internet speeds and the amount of data primarily impacts its prices. Satellite internet monthly prices range from $50 to $150.
Both HughesNet and Viasat provide multiple plans with different data limits. Where HughesNet plans are cheaper, Viasat plans offer faster speeds. But do bear in mind that the initial price of Viasat internet plans goes up by 33% after the initial first three months.
Satellite Internet Speed & Data Caps
The average Satellite internet speed is 25 Mbps, which is also the current broadband speed benchmark according to FCC. This speed is more than enough for standard usage, but when it comes to more intensive internet activities like gaming, heavy streaming, transferring large data files, this speed is insufficient.
Latency is another common drawback with Satellite internet. Satellite internet also comes with data caps, and it is only recently that Viasat has started offering unlimited data to some extent in selected variants of its plans. Viasat also maxes out its speed to 100 Mbps, but it depends on your locality. On the other hand, HughesNet provides a consistent 25 Mbps speed with different data caps.
Now that we have covered the basics of Satellite internet, let’s explore cable internet.
Cable internet relies on an underground coaxial cable network to transmit data. It is able to deliver internet speed close to that of fiber-optics since it has paired with DOCSIS 3.0 & 3.1. Although, not as fast as fiber-optic broadband, it is the second-fastest internet connection available in the U.S.
Cable internet uses the same copper wires used in cable TV networks, making it possible to bundle both cable and internet via the same network. The only catch to cable internet is that it tends to slow down during peak hours. Pros:
- Faster speed
- Reliable connection
- Numerous options
- Slow speed during peak hours
Cable Internet Providers
There are 450 cable internet providers in the US. Some ISPs have extensive coverage like Spectrum and Xfinity, while others like WOW! only cover some regions.
Numerous cable providers exist in the U.S because cable companies have the leverage to use the existing cable network to spread their cable internet. This makes cable internet more cost-effective than broadband networks that have to start everything from scratch. Among many cable internet providers, few stand out due to their reliability and extensive coverage:
- Spectrum Internet provides 300 Mbps up to 1 Gbps (wireless speeds may vary) internet speeds with unlimited data for prices ranging from $49.99 to $89.99/month for 12 mos*
- Xfinity provides 15 Mbps – 2000 Mbps internet speeds for prices ranging from $39.99 to $299.95/month
- Cox provides 25Mbps – 945 Mbps internet speeds for prices ranging from $29.99 to $99.99/month
Cable Internet Pricing
The pricing of cable internet varies in accordance with different ISPs, plans, and speeds. Your location also plays a major role in your cable internet prices as there could be differences in capacity or applicable taxes and fees. The main advantage of cable internet is that you can bundle it with other services under the same provider and save more money. Most ISPs offer cable internet plans depending on the speed and other perks ranging from $20 to somewhere around $110/month. These prices are applicable till the promotional period only, and you have to pay the standard rates after that.
Cable Internet Speed & Data
Cable internet is the second fastest internet connection in the US, and its hybrid fiber-coaxial networks make it possible for ISPs to provide speeds up to 1000 Mbps. Its upload speeds can also go up to 50 Mbps.
Cable internet providers are not as severe with data caps as satellite internet providers. Some providers, like Spectrum, also offer unlimited data in every plan, while others offer unlimited data for certain speeds.
Satellite internet requires a professional installation, while on the other hand, cable internet gives you two options. You can either install it by yourself, or you can pay a professional to set up the equipment for you. Its self-installation kit comes with detailed instructions and equipment.
Satellite Vs Cable Internet
Both internet connections have their strengths and drawbacks. The biggest strength of satellite internet is its availability, and cable internet has a blend of strengths like speed, availability, and prices.
If both cable and satellite internet is available in your area, it is always ideal to go for cable internet because of its fast speed, economical pricing, and reliable connection. The only reason why it’s not the most common choice of the rural population is its lack of availability due to poor infrastructure. They have to opt for satellite internet as the only means to connect with the outside world.