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What is satellite broadband?

What is satellite broadband?

According to Ofcom, around 95% of the UK can get access to superfast broadband. But what if you’re one of the households that can’t receive fixed or mobile networks? How do you get online?

If you live in a rural or remote area and can’t get access to ADSL or cable, there is an option: satellite broadband.

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
minute read
posted 14 JANUARY 2020

What is satellite broadband?

Satellite broadband is a satellite internet service option for those who don’t have access to traditional fixed line broadband – typically households in rural and remote areas of the UK.

Satellite broadband is transmitted using a wireless connection via a satellite dish, similar to those you use for satellite TV. The difference is that with a satellite internet service you can send and receive information.

To use satellite broadband, you’ll need a satellite dish and a transmitter attached to your property with a clear line of sight directed towards the south. This connects wirelessly to a geostationary earth orbit satellite that receives and sends a broadband signal to your home.

How fast is satellite broadband?

Satellite broadband download speeds typically range between two megabits per second (Mbps) and 30 Mbps, depending on your satellite broadband provider. While this is nothing compared to fibre optic speeds, it’s on a par with standard ADSL broadband.

However, the problem isn’t so much speed, but latency. Internet latency is the delay, or lag, between requesting online information and receiving it. Satellite broadband suffers from high latency because of the time it takes for a broadband signal to travel to Earth from the geostationary orbit 22,200 miles up in space.

While latency won’t be too restrictive if you’re just web browsing or sending emails, this level of high latency will prove a hindrance if you’re live streaming, gaming or video calling on VoIP services (phone services over the web), such as Skype.

According to Ofcom, however, there are plans to launch Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites in the next few years. These will orbit closer to Earth and could help resolve the latency issue for satellite broadband users.

Another problem can be interference due to bad weather. A heavy storm or snow blizzard can disrupt a satellite broadband signal and cause a break in your connection.

How much does satellite broadband cost?

The cost of satellite broadband can depend on the package you choose. Prices range from around £10 up to around £87, but can go higher. Typically, packages with higher data allowances tend to cost more.

Although there’s no line rental to pay, hardware and set-up costs can be very pricey; often starting at around £400 or more.

Please note, at Compare the Market we don’t currently offer satellite broadband products and, therefore, you can’t compare them with us.

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