Satellite Internet service is not for everyone. It is typically more expensive and slower than other high-speed alternatives, including DSL and cable. Customers who opt for satellite Internet services typically cannot get any other high-speed service where they live, so satellite or dial-up are their only options. Though satellite is more expensive than dial-up, it is also faster, so for those who need speed, satellite may be the better choice. There are several satellite providers from which to choose, so make sure you know what to look for when comparing them.
Monthly Service Fee
The monthly service fee for satellite Internet is quite a bit higher than other high-speed services, averaging $65 per month at the time of publication. The four major providers -- HughesNet (hughesnet.com), Wildblue (wildblue.com), Skyway (skywayusa.com) and Starband (starband.com) -- all offer services between $60 and $70 per month, though price is not the only thing you need to compare. Most of these providers require a two-year contract to qualify for these rates.
Equipment and Installation
A satellite dish and modem are required to get satellite Internet. Wiring also needs to be run from the dish to the modem inside the house. When comparing service providers, factor in equipment costs or rental fees as well as installation fees. Some companies, such as HughesNet, require users to purchase the equipment outright, which could cost around $300. Other companies require users to lease the equipment. If the provider requires leased equipment, be sure to add the cost to the monthly service fee to determine your total monthly cost.
As with most high-speed Internet service providers, download speeds for satellite Internet are much higher than upload speeds. For most users, this works fine since they spend more time downloading Web pages than uploading files and sending e-mails. HughesNet, Wildblue and Starband offer maximum download speeds of 1 Mbps, while Skyway's maximum is 768 Kbps. Wildblue also offers the fastest upload speed at 200 Kbps. HughesNet and Starband offer 128 Kbps upload speeds, while Skyway has the slowest upload speeds, at 56 Kbps.
Fair Access Policies
All satellite providers have what is referred to as a Fair Access Policy or a Reasonable Use Policy. The purpose is to ensure you don't exceed what the company considers fair use of the bandwidth since you are sharing the it with other subscribers. If you exceed the policy's maximum, your speeds are reduced for the rest of the period. Each company's Fair Access Policy differs on the amount of data you can download as well as the time frame. You can download a program to track your bandwidth consumption and help you determine which service is best for your data usage needs.
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