Depending on your location, you may not have a choice between satellite or traditional wireless Internet service. If your area offers both options, the choice between them depends on what you want installed and how much you're willing to pay.
Standard Internet service providers give you Internet access through phone lines that probably already exist in your residence. A modem translates the signal from the phone port into data your computer can use. To access the Internet wirelessly, you need a wireless modem or wireless router connected to the phone port. Your computer also requires a wireless card to access the signal. Almost all laptops and some desktops come with wireless cards pre-installed.
Satellite Internet service requires a satellite dish or receiving device. Most satellite Internet providers allow you to purchase or lease a dish during subscription. As with other Internet services, a modem translates the signal for use. Satellite Internet modems use different technology than other modems, and work only with satellite signals.
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Once you set up a wireless modem or router in your home, your access to wireless Internet depends on the strength of the wireless signal. Most devices create a wireless bubble large enough to service a household, though some reach slightly farther than others. Your connection speed depends on your agreement with your service provider. Most providers offer several options for connection speeds, with different associated costs.
Access to your satellite Internet signal can vary depending on weather conditions or other blockages. If your home lacks a clear view of the sky, or if your area often receives overcast weather, the satellite signal may be unreliable. Within your home, you may transmit the signal through an Ethernet cord or wirelessly with a wireless modem or router, just like any other Internet service. Upload speeds often slow considerably on satellite connections.
Though both Internet options require an installation procedure, the mounting and maintenance of a satellite receiving dish costs considerably more than installing a traditional Internet service. Monthly fees vary depending on the service provider, but satellite fees are also generally higher than land-line connections.