In the summer of 2015, the Pew Research Center conducted an analysis of Internet use. Among the findings: 85 percent of Americans are regular Internet users. This data is probably not surprising to most. The Internet is a regular part of daily life. We use if for work, shopping, entertainment, education, news, research and simply passing the time looking up a wide variety of information. One can access the Internet through DSL or cable. Some still log on through dial-up, though this is an increasingly small percentage. Another common way is through satellite connection. Is you reside in an urban area, you almost certainly have DSL or cable options to get the Internet into your home. But what if you live in a rural town, far from major cities or suburbs where cable and DSL have reach? You certainly shouldn't have to be left out in the cold. If you're a small-towner, you can surf the Internet using dial-up or satellite, and satellite internet is a much better option. Satellite Internet is a wireless connection that uses three satellites to get the Internet to you. One of these satellites is situated at your home, usually on a rooftop. Another is located at your Internet service provider's place of business or central hub. The third satellite is found high above the earth, more than 22,000 miles over the equator. This isn't the only equipment you'll need for satellite Internet. To complete the connection, you'll need a modem with cables running to and from your onsite dish. Once your setup is complete, you can access the Internet and browse to your heart's content. Here's how it works: Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will send a signal that will travel to the satellite dish in space. The dish from space relays the signal to your dish at home. Each time you download a file, request a new page or send an email, your request is sent via signal to the dish in space and then to your ISP's dish. Once the requested is made, the signal goes from the ISP dish, to space, to your dish and then to your computer. The advantages of satellite Internet Satellite Internet is considerably faster than dial-up, so it can be viewed as an upgrade to this method. Satellite Internet can be used to connect to the Internet from virtually anywhere in the world, provided you have the right equipment and everything is set up properly. You don't need a phone line to use satellite Internet. The disadvantages of satellite Internet If you live far away from highly populated areas, satellite Internet is easily your most effective and convenient way to log on to the Internet. But if you live in a metropolitan area where DSL, cable or fiber optic connections are available, there's really no reason to use satellite Internet. Here are some reasons why: During poor weather such as rain or snow, your connection will be adversely affected. In some instances of bad weather, you may lose your connection entirely. Because satellite Internet relies on sending signals back and forth between three different dishes, the time it takes to communicate with other devices is much longer than with other types of Internet connections. File transfer is slow, so if you like to stream movies or play online games, satellite Internet will fall substantially below your needs. Obstructions-even small ones-will block your signal. Trees, bushes or buildings can get in the way, thus hindering your signal and connectivity. This poses a serious obstacle if you live in a forested area. Satellite Internet has bandwidth restrictions. Satellite Internet will generally cost around $100 or more for 2 Mbps of speed. You can spend half that for much, much faster connections with cable connections. Satellite Internet and VPNs are not compatible. Deciding whether to get satellite Internet should simply be a matter of where you live. If you don't have cable, fiber optic or DSL in your area, go with satellite. It's a no-brainer over dial-up. But if the faster connection types are available, the choice is easy: skip the satellite.
Chances are, if you live in a developed part of the world, you probably have never heard of satellite internet. In fact, you probably most likely access the Internet through cable, DSL, or mobile networks. But in many areas where DSL or cable internet is not available, the only rural internet alternative is satellite internet. Satellite internet works just like it sounds: in areas where DSL and cable internet are not available, companies like HughesNet and Exede Internet provide residents with internet access using a series of small satellites orbiting just a few hundred miles above the earth's atmosphere. It's an exciting new development in the evolution of the Internet that has billionaires like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg clamoring to fill Earth's orbit with their own satellites. Why Is Satellite Internet So Bad? But in spite of the big plans set in motion for satellite internet, most satellite internet providers find themselves trailing more traditional landline providers in terms of speed and affordability. Speed Because signals between devices and satellites must literally travel hundreds and hundreds of miles before arriving at either destination, satellite internet tends to experience a significantly greater lag than either DSL or cable - especially if you are trying to stream video or accomplish other tasks that take up a lot of satellite broadband. Affordability And because satellite internet requires the actual launching of small satellites into Earth's orbit, it tends to be a much more expensive alternative to other forms of high speed internet, ones that simply require plugging into an already existing grid. Furthermore, as there are currently few of these satellite orbiting the earth, residents in some parts of the world do not have access to unlimited satellite internet; some areas are simply spotty, as though they were dead spots in a cellular phone network. Why Satellite Internet Is So Good Yes, in terms of internet comparison, satellite internet is much slower than its landline counterpart; however, in a state of emergency, satellite internet can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. While satellite internet is still largely in its development stage, many emergency circumstances - particularly ones where major communications channels have been wiped out - will ultimately rely upon it, as satellite internet can be far more successful than even high speed internet at getting the message across when all other channels are lost. 1. Counterterrorism In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, satellite internet providers are now working hard to provide those affected by or attempting to thwart terrorist activity with a safety net of communication in the event of a communications systems failure. Providers are working on all fronts: domestically, to protect American citizens from possible communication loss, and abroad, to help innocent civilians in unstable countries. Preparing US Citizens for Terrorist Attacks In the days following the devastating series of attacks in Paris, both hospitals and first responders on the eastern coast of the United States are implementing additional security measures to prepare for the worst. But their preparations involve more than just making sure they have enough room and supplies to service the injured, or having enough manpower to rescue people in potential wreckage situations; one of the greatest needs they're addressing has to do with communication. Hospitals like Riverside Hospital in Virginia have taken steps to ensure there are no holes in emergency communication. In addition to dedicated radio and web services, Riverside is invested heavily in a mobile command center, complete with VHF and UHF radio, HAM radio, cable internet, cellular internet, and in case of dire straits, satellite radio. Giving a Voice to Citizens in Unstable Countries However, the fight against terrorism, while it may end within our borders, starts overseas. Many of the victims of these terrorist organizations are their fellow countrymen, and have just as much need to stay in touch with loved ones in the event of attacks that cut off communication. As it stands, a significant portion of the world's population lacks the ability connect with the rest of the world online. And as immediacy in the news has become absolutely crucial, providing access to these underserved populations is extremely important. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is hoping to close that gap by bringing the next billion people online, both through partnerships with mobile providers, as well as through satellite internet services. Facebook's efforts involve more than just giving a voice to people in unstable countries, but it's providing a forum for those affected by natural disasters to communicate and check the status of their loved ones. In parts of the world where traditional internet is not available, satellite internet can literally save lives. 2. Disaster Relief Speaking of natural disasters, satellite internet can not only help people maintain contact during or immediately after an earthquake, hurricane, or tsunami, but it can also be the means or providing additional aid to help people recover from these disasters. Connecting Haiti to the World Back in 2010, Haiti experienced a devastating earthquake. And while important drugs and medical supplies were shipped to local trauma centers within days of the earthquake, these trauma centers were drastically understaffed. But thanks to a couple of donated satellites, medical personal at Haitian trauma centers were able to communicate and consult with corresponding trauma recovery teams in Miami (some 700 miles away) by means of a satellite internet connection. This form of communication, known as telemedicine, has become one of the most effective ways of providing countries in need with immediate and interactive medical support. It's a process already being widely used in the United States and has been shown to improve medical diagnoses, speak up treatment, and even lower the cost of healthcare in other countries. 3. Environmental Monitoring As satellite internet technology continues to improve, companies are looking to create specialized sensors that connect to a satellite broadband, thus providing a connection on the ground that will never go down. This can be used in the military to keep an eye on the location of military vehicles and personnel, and by commercial shippers to track the route of shipping containers. But satellite internet can save more than just human lives. Satellite Internet and Oil Spills One innovative application of satellite internet technology is environmental monitoring. By using disposable, lower-powered sensors, customers could pay a subscription fee and gain access to an increasingly growing satellite network, and track all sorts of things. Developers believe these sensors could be used to track the location and spread of oil spills, and give first responders minute-by-minute analysis of the damage. Farmers can also use these sensors to keep track of their livestock and ultimately monitor their health. Plans to Improve Satellite Internet Satellite internet has a long way to go; yet, in spite of it's obvious limitations, it provides a great deal of value in connecting otherwise unreachable regions with the rest of the world, and ultimately saving lives. Thankfully, there are some strategies in place to help satellite internet become more affordable, while reducing latency. Space Race, 2015 As mentioned above, satellite internet is a burgeoning investment opportunity for the likes of celebrity billionaires and humanitarians like Richard Branson and Elon Musk. Both men have announced plans to launch a fleet of small satellites into earth's orbit that can maintain a shorter distance to the ground, thus improving the latency and speed time of the current system. Furthermore the increase in satellites in the sky would reduce the number of dead spots, meaning more people would have reliable connections. And as these satellites are smaller, and therefore cost less to manufacture and launch, those savings will be ultimately passed onto the customer. Satellite internet may not be the method of choice now, but the time when everyone will have uninterrupted high-speed internet - no matter where they are - will be here sooner than you think. If you feel like it's time to get onboard with this movement into the future, check out our top recommended satellite internet providers here.