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What is Fixed Wireless Internet and How Does It Compare to Satellite?

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In 2019, so far, 65% of Americans used broadband to access the internet. Only 4% are connected by satellite. Broadband includes fixed wireless internet. In 2014, Canadians used fixed wireless in rural areas as it was one of the only methods to receive a reliable internet connection as compared to other technologies.

What is fixed wireless internet and is it better than satellite internet? Continue reading to find out.



Satellite Internet


There are three parts to gaining internet access through satellites. There is the geostationary satellite orbiting Earth, the satellite dish, and the modem.


Signals are sent from the satellite dish into space. The signals travel 22,300 miles above Earth to a satellite.


These signals are bounced off the satellite to the internet service provider’s (ISP’s) Network Operations Center or NOC. NOC is privately connected to the internet.


The internet signals reach the modem, and the modem transmits them to the satellite dish. The dish can now connect you to the internet.


Satellite internet is typically chosen by people who live in rural areas with no other options. Many of these places don’t have fixed wireless, DSL, or fiber optic internet services available.



What Is Fixed Wireless Internet?


Fixed wireless is a broadband internet connection that uses radio signals rather than satellite signals to communicate.


Signals never leave the planet. They come from your ISP’s tower, which is also called a ground station or Point-of-Presence (PoP). Ground stations are usually up to 10 miles away from your house.


An antenna or dish will pick up the radio signals. The dish is usually on the roof. The signals travel to the modem and then the router. The router changes them into a usable form and can provide your home with WiFi or a CAT5 connection.


A router connects all of your devices into one network and sends information to and from the ISP tower. This is how you can send an email and search the internet.


You can choose from a wireless or wired router. A wireless router is connected to the modem by a cable. Internet is available without any other wires.


A wired router is directly connected to your computer. Many people use Ethernet cables. These routers have their own Wi-Fi access points (WAP), and you can connect other devices to its wireless local area network (WLAN) without wires.



A Comparison


Satellite internet and fixed wireless internet both have their pros and cons. Here are some comparison points.



Fixed wireless internet can cost from $60 to $120. It depends on your ISP and the speed you choose. Some ISPs that offer fixed wireless are of course us here at Wavedirect.


The only two satellite internet service providers left in America are HughesNet and Viasat. HughesNet has an introductory price ranging from $60 to $150. Viasat’s introductory price is between $50 to $150. Here in Canada satellite internet prices can start at a whopping $399/month!


Extra prices include $100 to $150 to install the satellite dish and hook it up to your house, a $100 activation fee, and $15 a month for hardware rent.


If you’re looking for quality high-speed internet, satellite internet isn’t the cheapest option of the two. You can get higher download speeds for less money with fixed wireless internet.



Not only is satellite internet expensive, but it’s more prone to weather interference. Signals have to travel out of Earth’s atmosphere to reach the satellites in space, so the weather can interrupt these signals. This results in slower internet or no internet connection at all.


Even if you aren’t experiencing bad weather, your internet can cut out if an area surrounding you is. Wind, snow, rain, and lightning affect signal reception. Moisture weakens the satellite signal.


Ground stations are on Earth and don’t go near the atmosphere. They also travel a shorter distance than satellite signals. No matter where it is, the weather rarely affects signal transmissions.


Sometimes fog or rain can reduce the connection. Fixed wireless will give you cheaper internet with fewer interruptions.



Latency is defined as the amount of time needed for a signal to travel with information.


Satellite internet requires much more time because the signal has to leave Earth. The satellite it has to get to is over 20,000 miles above Earth!


After that, the signal has to go to the NOC, your modem, and then your computer. An ISP with high speeds can be slowed the latency of satellite internet, especially when the weather isn’t good.


Fixed wireless signals often have to reach a PoP from less than 10 miles away. There’s barely any delay compared to satellite signals because of how close the ground station is to your house. People with fixed wireless can enjoy a fast internet connection.


Data Caps

A data cap is a limit to the amount of data a customer can use without being charged extra. It can also be in the form of an internet speed limit. Many satellite ISPs have data caps on their internet plans and can even throttle your internet usage.


Viasat has an unlimited data plan, but if a customer goes over 150 GB, they may have a slower internet connection. The same goes for HughesNet. Connection speeds go from 25 Mbps to 1-3 Mbps for the rest of the billing month after you exceed the data amount in your plan.


Fixed wireless ISPs don’t have data caps on their plans meaning they have unlimited data. You can use the internet for as long as you want and download as much as you want. There’s no fear of going over the data limit and being charged a fee.


You don’t have to take our word for it, you can check out this internet connection type comparison infographic from GeoLinks


Consider Fixed Wireless Internet


So, what is fixed wireless internet?


It’s faster and cheaper than satellite internet. You don’t need to worry about data caps. Interruptions happen much less than they do with satellite signals.


Fixed wireless has many advantages over satellite internet that make it the better choice.


Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Rural High Speed Internet

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