The drawbacks of satellite broadband

The drawbacks of satellite broadband

Tuesday, 16 April, 2019

If you don’t have access to Virgin Media cable services, your choice of TV channels could be increased hugely by installing Sky.

Similarly, problems with sluggish internet connections can also be solved with a satellite dish.

With 100 per cent UK coverage, satellite broadband connects off-grid properties to the information superhighway, even if there’s no phone line installed.

For that reason alone, some rural residents may be tempted to investigate satellite broadband provision.

However, receiving internet data from space does have a number of drawbacks…

1. Cost. Some satellite internet services are available for the price of a normal broadband account, but data caps will be low – as little as 10GB per month.

After each month’s allowance has been used up, connection speeds may be throttled back to frustratingly slow levels.

More expensive packages provide higher data caps, but costs will also rise towards £100 per month. Setup fees tend to be higher than with a 4G dongle or landline broadband, too.

2. Speed. Sending data to space and back is much slower than it would be from hardwired connections or wireless 4G masts a few kilometres away.

This is mainly caused by latency – the delay between information being sent and a response being returned.

Latency soars as each data request travels 36,000km to reach a satellite hovering in geostationary orbit over the equator, while the response also has to travel 36,000km.

It’s hard to provide accurate average speeds for satellite broadband services, given the ever-changing influence of factors like weather, but connections will usually be slower than 4G.

Theoretical maximum speeds presently achievable via a perfect satellite connection stand at 50Mbps download and 6Mbps upload.

3. Reliability. A fractional realignment of your satellite dish (possibly caused by high winds or strain on its mountings) could impact on its performance.

Snow, rain and wind have a marked effect on connection quality or speed, while trees surrounding a satellite dish might also cause interference.

4. Practicality. The huge distances data travels to and from satellites means latency is too high to support online gaming.

Streaming media might be a struggle as well, and that’s before taking into account how binge-watching the latest box set would munch through data allowances.

When monthly caps are in place, internet access becomes something to be minimised wherever possible.

Think of it as the difference between tap water and gas. Both are piped into your home, but there’s only one which could be wasted without pangs of guilt, or higher bills.

Satellite internet services are relatively uncommon, with a limited choice of providers resulting in less price competition than the UK’s competitive landline broadband sector.

Finally, you’ll need to be sure installing a satellite dish (or a second dish if you’ve got Sky) won’t require planning permission or approval from your landlord or freeholder.

Neil Cumins author picture

By:

Neil is an expert tech writer. He's written hundreds of guides on all things broadband!

News What's the story?

Keep up with the latest developments in UK broadband.

UK 5G network goes live – are you up to speed?

Here's everything you need to know about the new mobile broadband network.

UK 5G network goes live – are you up to speed? Read more

TalkTalk offers exclusive £80 reward to new fibre customers

The huge bonus is available to anyone signing up for a 'Faster Fibre' bundle through BroadbandDeals.co.uk

Read more

TikTok ‘gifts’ empty kids piggy banks

Children are most vulnerable to 'influencer' donation pleas

Read more

Netflix ruins 90’s cartoon, enrages internet

The streaming giant came in for criticism for 'straightwashing' Japanese cult classic anime.

Read more

Porn-block pushed back by clerical errors

Further delays to the child-protection measure, with the process mocked as an 'utter shambles'.

Read more

How to watch Wimbledon online for free

How to make sure you don't miss out on the action from your favourite sports stars.

How to watch Wimbledon online for free Read more

Fast fines for ISPs could end the “Loyalty Penalty”

But could the proposed measures mean worse deals for those who shop around?

Read more

Boris Johnson mocks full-fibre roll-out plans

The likely next PM boasts plans to beat current targets by 8 years, but is it all just hot air?

Read more

Broadband and phone companies to put Fairness first

Telecoms providers commit to raising standards.

Read more

UK to get legal right to decent and affordable broadband

New legislation will ensure minimum speeds for every UK household.

Read more

GDPR – One year on

The landmark legislation gave people the ‘right to know’ when their data had been hacked.

Read more

Help Learn with us

Make the most of the internet with our broadband library.

How to childproof your home broadband

How to childproof your home broadband Read more

Why Ofcom’s USO is more than pie in the sky

Read more

Protecting your small business against cyber attacks

Read more

Could 5G end fixed-line home broadband?

Read more

How broadband availability varies across the UK

Read more

Which social media platforms should I be on?

Read more

Will you get online on holiday?

Stay connected during your get-away.

Will you get online on holiday? Read more

Make the most of your broadband overnight

Read more

The main causes of slow internet connections

Slow broadband can be more than just an irritant - but what causes it, and what can we do to fight back?

Read more

Do you need to ramp up your broadband controls?

Read more

The different types of home computer

Read more
Back To Top