There’s cable internet, DSL, fiber optics, and then there’s satellite. These are the most common means of connecting with the internet today. The best option, and usually the fastest, is fiber. But that involves installing the wires needed. Thus, fiber is mostly limited to urban areas.
Rural internet customers are left out, both figuratively and literally.
If DSL and cable are not installed nearby, then the only options left are satellite, or if you’re lucky, fixed wireless.
As cool as satellite internet is, the common complaint is that it’s too slow, or that weather interferes with the signal too easily.
There’s change on the horizon though.
Is there a way to make satellite internet more reliable?
Who’s working on new technology to decrease latency, and increase download speeds to be on par with fiber?
What if it wasn’t about technology at all?
As of this writing, there are companies out there working on just that. According to an article on PC Mag, it’s the “New Space Race.”
To solve the issues plaguing satellite internet’s reliability and latency issues, both well-known and unknown companies have begun their own research into how to get around all the factors involved with transmitting internet signals from the earth’s surface up into space.
Weather and Geography
DSL, fiber, and cable, all have the advantage of being installed on the ground. Satellites contend with about 310 miles, at least, of space between them and the transceiver they’re hooked up to.
That’s 310 miles, at least, of space that stuff can get in the way.
Storms, even some cloud cover, can have an effect on this signal. A satellite signal is, at its core, energy riding on waves. Clouds and storms have a way of breaking up that energy. Sometimes it’s a small disturbance, other times it’s a big one.
Geography, such as mountains and trees, have a more powerful effect on this energy. The signal can’t go around them, which is why satellite dishes need to have a relatively clear line of sight to the satellite itself.
Tossing a football a short distance is easy.
Throwing it the length of a football field, and into the hands of an open receiver, is much more difficult. And while NFL quarterbacks are paid millions to do this, their accuracy is still on par with satellite signal strength.
I could name a few quarterbacks who’ve upset me in this way, but that would be too mean.
A satellite, in simplest terms, is throwing a football over 310 miles, at least, to a receiver. The receiver must be able to catch and throw it back. To extend the metaphor further, because of the distance and the among of energy needed to hurl something that far, the satellite can only throw a small football.
That football needs to go up to the satellite, and back, quickly. Which is why it’s kept so small. That’s why there are data caps involved in satellites.
To combat these issues, companies are trying new methods for getting around the issues.
SpaceX’s Elon Musk petitioned the FCC to send up over 7500 satellites for his endeavor, Starlight. These satellites would be placed at different altitudes above the earth, some in low orbit (310 miles), some in medium orbit (3,000 miles) and the rest in geostationary orbit (about 22,000 miles). The idea is to have more satellites to transmit the signal to resolve any latency and speed issues.
Google has Project Loon, which will use balloons instead of satellites. These balloons will be sent up to the stratosphere and will link up to transmit signals.
Then there’s OneWeb, similar to Starlight, only they’ll use a small number of satellites for their network. The key difference is the method in how they link the satellites together.
The short answer is; it’s complex. Both developers are using a different way to set up their networks.
Which one will do a better job?
3 Factors Deciding Satellite Internet’s Future
All this new technology will undoubtedly yield some benefits. The speed and reliability of satellite internet may remain at the level it is today for some time. But it’s good to see brilliant minds working to solve the issues. The more they work on it, the sooner we’ll see results.
The technology, however, is not what will be the deciding factor in who wins the New Space Race.
It’ll be because of these three factors.
1. Who Will Create a Viable Infrastructure?
All the technology in the world will not solve the problem of increasing the speed and reliability of satellite internet. Sure, technology is great, it can connect us over great distances, but it needs to be structured in such a way to achieve that greatness.
Amazon didn’t perfect the book buying business, they found a better way to deliver the books to the customer. To do this they needed a warehouse and delivery system. They could have started with delivering toothpaste and it still would have come down to how well they were able to get that product into the hands of the person who ordered it.
Satellite internet, to be the next big thing, needs an infrastructure that maximizes the technology available. By streamlining the process, the satellites above can do a better job of sending and receiving signals.
2. Who Will Adopt It First?
AS with any movement, there are the early adopters. These are the people who see the value in something that’s not been perfected yet. There will be bugs involved, frustration when it comes to incorporating it, and other problems.
These early adopters gladly take on that burden because they see this new technology as giving them a value far outweighing the problems.
The trick is getting those early adopters to see the opportunity, which leads us to point #3.
3. Who Will Market It the Best?
Steve Jobs, Herb Kelleher, and Mark Zuckerberg have something in common.
They respectively did not invent the home computer, cheap flights, and social media.
They found a better way to market it to the consumer.
Jobs with his Apple II made his computers easier to use by taking out the need for the average joe to know the programming language.
Kelleher found a way to make buying flights simple, fun, and cheap.
Zuckerberg took the concept of a university-wide student directory and put it online along with the ability to message friends and share pictures.
There are other pioneers like these who didn’t invent something new, they just found a better way to market it to the individual.
For satellite internet to take off, it will not be because someone figured out a way to make it 100% reliable. Though that would be very important to the story, it will mean nothing if no one knows about it.
The Internet Will Change
The one constant in life is that there will always be change.
The internet is no different.
What will the next change be?
No one knows for certain.
Given that there are a lot of minds, and a lot of money, involved with improving satellite internet, satellite will play a bigger part in the future of it.
Until then, we’ll have to make do with what we have.
If you’re a rural customer or an urban one, save yourself some time and check out the best internet and cable packages. This way you don’t have to do all the work of finding the best deals in your area, and you can save some money too.
Satellite Internet customers have remained notoriously limited in their choice of Internet service providers. Not anymore! Fixed wireless Internet service may just be the answer to consumers’ need for fast and reliable service. We are all painfully aware of the frustrations of traditional Internet service. Speeds get throttled. Service goes down. Customer service sucks. Stuff happens.
The benefits of going wireless
Que será, será, right? Not quite. Not anymore. Consumers now have a choice about which broadband connection type they want. Wireless connectivity – the answer to all our wire-dependency troubles – has been around for quite a while. Internet companies and developers have cast their hopes on radio waves since – well, basically since the invention of the Internet.
Our wire and cord days are mostly gone now. Electromagnetic radiation. You gotta love it! It’s really a cool idea if you think about it. You can connect to the Internet without the use of a physical medium for the connection to occur over, like a cable. The idea of using satellites as a means of providing Internet access certainly has its benefits in much the same way that using a wireless router in your home as opposed to a wired connection has its benefits.
Consumers can now access the Internet from previously too remote for other service providers’ physical lines to connect them. That means you, rural dweller – yes, you!
Choices, choices, choices!
Satellite Internet has long been the connection of choice for people living on the outskirts of the big city. In many cases, it was the only way to go. A lack of option in terms of availability of service meant that rural customers had no real choice. You either have Viasat or HughesNet. End of story.
This lack of options came with some setbacks. The first setback was latency. Gamers, pay attention to this part; this concerns you. Geosynchronous satellites are up there in space. Like way, way up there. These flying tin cans have an orbit that’s over 22,000 miles above the surface of the Earth. Radio waves take time to travel across that kind of distance. The signal must first reach the satellite and then return to Earth. This results in a delay. That delay is called latency, and it is the bane of satellite Internet customers’ existence.
Think about online gaming. Modern games are played in real-time and require a fast connection. The lag time for satellite Internet is typically about 230 milliseconds: not nearly long enough to notice when doing casual browsing, but is potentially disastrous for Fortnite aficionados! Latency can also affect other real-time applications like voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Think Skype calls. Who would have thought that calling grandma would be so fraught with frustration, eh?
The second setback that satellite Internet users encounter regularly is good ol’ mother nature. Inclement weather can leave customers in the dark. Literally. Rain, snow, dense cloud cover, and even particularly gusty winds can result in a lost satellite signal. The thing about satellite connection is that users must have a clear view of the satellite to get a good signal. Microwave radio frequencies travel in a straight line and cannot pass through solid objects. Physical obstructions like trees and buildings can negatively affect the quality of the connection.
What’s a person to do if they experience these connection issues regularly with their satellite Internet connection? For a long time, there was nothing they could do. Short of moving to the city, users had to suck it up and go with the flow. Not anymore.
Here to save the day – fixed wireless Internet!
People often confuse fixed wireless Internet with satellite Internet. The two types of connection are similar. They both tout the benefits of a wireless connection (i.e., availability in rural areas). However, where satellite connections occur thousands of miles up in space, fixed wireless connections occur right down here on the ground. The way it works is simple. Service is transmitted via radio waves from a tower access point on the ground. Okay, well, maybe it’s a bit more complex than that, but you get the idea. It’s innovative point-to-point technology.
Rise Broadband is the nation’s largest fixed wireless provider, providing service to rural communities in 16 states – and growing! In fact, Rise Broadband, winner of the 2017 Fierce Wireless Telecom Provider Award, has eyes set on the future with 5G standards setting new standards for growth. Areas across the map are now being covered by towers to provide access. Areas like yours, reader. That’s right. A tower has been constructed in your vicinity, providing you access to fixed wireless Internet. Satellite Internet is no longer your only option!
This is great news for customers who are looking for fast, reliable service. By delivering speeds comparable to or exceeding DSL, cable, and fiber, fixed wireless Internet offers consumers like you a highly anticipated wireless solution to get you connected. Check to see which Rise Broadband offers are available in your area. A new way to connect is here.
Ain’t technology grand?
Fast, reliable internet.
That’s the dream, isn’t it?
In today’s world, it’s more important that we have a fast connection than being connected to the internet at all.
To ensure this near lightspeed access to the internet we have to go through an internet service provider or ISP. In a funny twist of fate, we often look around on the internet itself to see who’s the best ISP, why they are the best, and what other people are saying about them.
To save you on time, let’s break down what makes the best ISP for you and your area. That approach may sound odd until you realize that a company simply calling itself “the fastest and most reliable” is simple marketing.
Different factors, some of which are outside of an ISP’s control, affect the speed at your specific location. Much like the internet itself, you’re part of a large web. Each of these factors is a thread that connects to other factors before connecting you to the internet.
(No spiders were harmed!)
The Company Thread
While the technologies mentioned above are the method for delivering internet, an ISP is still a company.
There are plenty of packages that allow you to pick and choose whether you want just internet, just TV, or all of them at once. While some may offer cheap packages for one or two services, make sure to read what the connection speed is, as this determines just how fast the connection will be. More on this later.
Some companies serve a smaller area, like Guadalupe Valley Technology Cooperative. Look around to see what’s available in your specific area.
The big names, like AT&T, Spectrum, and Comcast to name a few, will have a few different technologies you chose from. Again, double check what’s available in your area. For example, AT&T may have fiber, but they may only offer it downtown and not in rural areas.
Smaller companies fare better because they service just a specific area and can respond more quickly to customer concerns. Yet, they’ll be limited in the technologies they can offer.
The Technology Thread
There are different technologies for bringing the world wide web to you. They all have their pros and cons. Not all companies use the same technology either but all of them depend on where you physically are.
Understanding the technology in use allows you to equip yourself when it comes to picking or switching your ISP.
Fiber optic cables are glass tubes that transmit light. To protect the delicate glass inside, heavy-duty rubber or metal is used as a cover. If even a little bit of water gets inside the cable itself, it wreaks havoc on transmissions. This is why fiber optic cables are so expensive and are hard to come by in rural areas.
Thanks to the use of light instead of electricity, these provide the fastest and most reliable internet connection.
You’ll most likely find these in highly populated areas. Check to make sure your ISP has fiber in your area.
Digital Subscriber Line. These are second to fiber, but more widely available. And they’re perfect for those on a tight budget. DSL uses the phone lines that are already installed to transmit data back and forth. This is what gives them their speed and reliability.
On the flipside of this, pay attention to where the central office is. The farther you are from it, the slower your connection will be.
Everyone knows these. Cable is the most common and just as the name implies, companies use dedicated cables to provide these connections. They’re not the standard phone lines.
Of course, everyone complains about the prices as there’s usually a promotion to get it installed in your house. Once the promotion ends the prices soar.
Oh, and the customer service too, everyone loves to hate customer service. But give them a break, they deal with unhappy customers every day. After all, do you call your ISP when you don’t have a problem with your service?
There’s another factor here that many people overlook- Bandwidth.
The bandwidth you’re using is shared in your immediate area. This doesn’t mean you can look into your neighbor’s house, rather, the same cables running to your house are running to their house as well. You’ll notice this in the evening when you see your internet slow down or your streaming-show freeze or lag behind.
This is the hardest to get a good connection with. While you may think a satellite, orbiting the earth, should have no problem establishing an internet connection, it’s the opposite. Clouds, terrain, and distance all affect a satellite’s connection a great deal.
Yet, it may be the only option.
The Connection Thread
ISPs offer different connection speeds.
An internet connection depends on how many megabytes per second, Mbps, can be uploaded and downloaded in a second. Akin to a good juggler, your ISP is tossing up a ball up in the air while being able to catch another coming down- ten, fifteen, even up to 1000 balls in a second.
The faster an ISP can juggle, the better connection you’ll have.
Look for the number to determine how good they are. If they can juggle ten balls, meaning their connection speed is 10 Mbps, that’s pretty good. For those looking for a connection to support more than one person, then look for 15 Mbps or higher. When it comes to an entire business, 40 Mbps or higher is recommended.
Of course, geography will affect how well your ISP can juggle. If you’re wanting to download big files or play online games, then a higher Mbps will be needed to handle that capacity.
In other words, the juggler is going to have to juggle larger balls.
The Human Thread
While it’s all well and good to see how the internet is actually brought to your door, you are missing out on a wealth of information.
And it can be found next door!
While you may enjoy your solitude in your home or apartment, chances are that the neighbor next door is using the internet as well. And when they are, they’re going to run into the same problems you do when trying to establish a connection. If it’s slow for you, it’s probably slow for them too.
So get up, walk to the door, step outside and go to the house next to yours. Knock on that door and ask “How’s your internet?”
This will go a long way in helping you decide which internet service provider is right for you.
The Last Thread
All of these threads lead back to the more vital part- you.
Figuring out which ISP is best for you may not sound like a fun thing to do. It may not seem worthwhile.
Take heart, as taking the time to equip yourself with this knowledge will ease some headaches down the road, and save you money.
Find the best internet deals no matter the ISP
Choosing the right Internet service is important. Like, super important. We use the Internet for pretty much everything. With all the different options that are out there, it can be difficult to figure out which service is right for you. You’ve probably heard of a little thing called satellite Internet. As the name implies, the service uses space satellites to connect you to the Internet. You’ll get a dish installed on or near your home, and that dish will transmit data to communication hub and to satellites over 20,000 miles up in orbit. Cool stuff. But, is it the right choice for you? Here are the top reasons to go satellite.
Go outside and look around. Is the tallest thing in your city skyline the local church steeple? Then, you might be a good candidate for satellite Internet service. If your hometown population is one, you might be a good candidate for satellite Internet (seriously, there is a town in Wyoming with a population of one)! People who live in rural areas tend to have very limited options when it comes to service providers.
Cable Internet, for instance, is only available where cable lines have been installed. Obviously. In many cases, that excludes rural our-offers and small towns. The cool thing about satellite Internet is that it is available practically everywhere. All you need really is the sky above.
If you are unsure which providers are available in your area, be sure to use our handy tool to search for service.
Because we are talking about satellite connections here – real sciencey space stuff – it takes time for data signals to travel to a satellite and back. Usually, much more time than a terrestrial connection, like cable Internet.
The diagram below gives you an idea of what happens when you utilize satellite Internet. Most Internet satellites are in what is called geosynchronous orbit. Basically, they follow the rotation of the Earth. They are way up there, too – about 22,000 miles away! This distance causes latency, which is just a time delay in the system.The signal itself travels at the speed of light, so even though 22,000 miles seems like an absurd distance, we’re only talking milliseconds of delay here. More precisely, satellite Internet has about a latency of 638 milliseconds.
Is latency with satellite connections really that bad?
No, not really. It doesn’t really affect streaming, for example, because a video typically will play after just a slight delay. This is important to note because video streaming accounts for nearly 75% of why people use the Internet. So, if you are using the Internet to stream movies on Netflix or Hulu, you’ll be fine with satellite Internet. Reading articles, sending emails, utilizing social media – all of these will present no problem with a satellite connection.
With the Exede service, we integrated a much better protocol acceleration technology, and then we updated it to something even better. Viasat Web Acceleration service uses hundreds of high-power servers hosted in our-offers around the country to optimize your browsing experiences. When you browse to a webpage, these servers predict what the browser is going to need and fetch those items over very high-speed connections. The server then sends those items to the modem in your home, where they arrive just milliseconds before your browser needs them.
So when does latency matter?
The nature of modern gaming is such that data is constantly being transmitted back and forth. Real-time applications like Call of Duty, Halo, and Fortnite require a fast connection. Satellite Internet does not adequately support these applications.
However, there are some games that will work with satellite. Turn-based games work fine over a satellite connection because a fraction of a second doesn’t really make a difference like it does in real-time games. Farmville, Draw Something, and Words With Friends are some examples of turn-based games. If you are mostly playing those kinds of games, you should be fine with satellite Internet.
Why do you use the Internet?
That’s an important question to keep in mind as you decide whether satellite Internet is right for you. Below is a list of online activities that you can use to determine which might be affected by a satellite connection type. Happy Internet-ing!
- Web Browsing – No Discernible Effect
- Online Banking – No Discernible Effect
- Email – No Discernible Effect
- Video Chat – No Discernible Effect
- Downloading Music/Movies – No Discernible Effect
- Streaming Movies – No Discernible Effect
- Sharing Photos – No Discernible Effect
- Social Media – No Discernible Effect
- Gaming (Real-Time) – Does Not Perform Well
- Gaming (Turn-Based) – No Discernible Effect
- VPN – Does Not Perform Well