Pros and Cons of Satellite Internet

By Michael Wolfe

While most computers receive their Internet connections directly from phone or cable lines, people in very remote areas often receive their Internet service from satellites. With satellite Internet connections, a satellite receives a signal from a land-based Internet connection. The satellite then transits this signal down to a personal satellite dish and special modem. Although vital for certain users without other options, the technology has a number of downsides.

Available Almost Anywhere

The biggest advantage of satellite Internet is that it is available virtually anywhere. Whereas other computers must be relatively close to a land line--either directly connected via a cord or close enough to receive short-range signals from a router--computers using satellite can be hundreds of miles away from the nearest cable or telephone line.

Faster Than Dial-Up Internet

Satellite Internet is also faster than dial-up connections. According to HughesNet High-Speed Internet, providers of broadband satellite service, satellite Internet can be up to 50 times faster than dial-up Internet. Most satellite connections, however, are slower than this.


Satellite Internet can be extremely expensive. According to EduBook, HughesNet offered a connection with download speeds of 1.0 megabits per second and upload up 128 kilobits per second for $59.99 as of late 2009. However, for a connection with download speeds of up to 5.0 mbps and upload as fast as 300 kbps the cost was $349.99. By comparison, the average broadband landline connection is 3.8 mbps--upload and download--and cost less than $50 during the same time period.

Slower Than Broadband or Cable

Even the faster broadband satellite Internet connection is still significantly slower than cable and broadband, with a cap of approximately 300 kbps for downloading information--significantly slower than most cable connections.


Satellite Internet also lacks the reliability of land-line connections. The signals from satellites can be blocked by inclement weather--a phenomenon known as "rain fade"--as well as other kinds of interference, such as sunspots. Connections secured through wires generally suffer fewer outages.

Data Limits

According to EduBook, every satellite Internet provider places limits on how much data a user may download or upload over a specified time period. If you exceed this limit--say, 100 megabytes of downloading in a single day--your access slows to a speed comparable with download. Full access may not be restored until your next billing period.

Easily Blocked

Although usable almost anywhere, satellite Internet can also be blocked by physical obstacles. The further a computer connecting by satellite is from the equator, the farther down toward the horizon it will have to point its receiver. The farther down a receiver is pointed, the more easily it can be blocked by trees, mountains and other large objects.