Satellite Internet Reviews

The Reviews.com research team compiled a list of 13 satellite Internet providers and reviewed the 3 best companies based on 38 satellite Internet features.

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What Satellite Internet Features Matter and Why?

Performance and Speed

Very Important
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Performance and Speed deals with the speeds offered by the Internet service providers as well as any limitations on data usage, which only come into play for satellite and 4G Internet service. Available speeds vary dramatically based on the type of Internet service, as do the data restrictions. Some companies allow unlimited data usage, while others slow the Internet speed or charge users extra once they have exceeded a certain point. Certain companies enable customers to purchase additional data if they surpass this limit. This category is one of the most important to think about when choosing an Internet service provider, as it has the largest effect on the overall performance of the Internet.

  • Buy More Data - You can purchase more data from the Internet service provider if you exceed your monthly data limit.
  • Extensive Data - The Internet service offers more than 20 GB of data per month.
  • High Speed Plus - The Internet service offers download speeds between 11 and 25 Mbps.
  • Moderate Data - The Internet service offers 10 to 20 GB of data per month.
  • No Bandwidth Throttling - The internet service provider will not throttle your bandwidth, regardless of usage.
  • Standard High Speed - The Internet service offers download speeds up to 10 Mbps.
  • Unlimited Data - The Internet service allows unlimited data usage.

Account

Fairly Important
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Account explains how consumers can manage their Internet service through an online account. Through this account, users can update their contact and payment information, and even view and pay their bills online. Those with satellite Internet can also monitor their available bandwidth online. All of these features are extremely important, but the category as a whole shouldn't play a big part in the decision-making process, simply because almost all companies score highly in this area.

  • Make Payment - You can make a payment online.
  • Manage Email Accounts - You can manage email accounts online.
  • Monitor Data Usage - You can monitor your monthly data usage online.
  • Update Contact Information - You can update your contact information online.
  • Update Payment Method - You can update your payment method online.
  • View Bill - You can view your bill online.

Contract

Fairly Important
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Contract discusses factors common in Internet service provider contracts, including fees and contract length. Many of the top Internet service providers charge activation or early termination fees and increase the monthly rate over time. The best Internet service providers don't charge these fees and guarantee steady prices throughout the terms of the contract. Some Internet service providers require customers to sign lengthy contracts, while others allow customers to get service without a contract. Contract is an important category because it identifies many of the important factors to consider when signing up with an Internet service provider.

  • Money-Back Guarantee - The Internet service provider offers some form of money back guarantee within an allotted time period.
  • No Activation Fees - The Internet service provider doesn't charge any activation fees.
  • No Contract - You can get Internet service without signing any contract.
  • No Early Termination Fees - The Internet service provider does not charge a termination fee if you cancel your contract early.
  • No Long-Term Contract - You can get Internet service without signing a contract that is longer than one year.
  • No Price Increases - The Internet service provider does not automatically increase prices at certain time periods.
  • Short-Term Contract - You can get Internet service without signing a contract that is longer than six months.

Equipment

Fairly Important
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Equipment discusses the various components of the Internet service that are provided by the company. In most cases, this includes an Ethernet cable and a modem. For those who go with a satellite Internet provider, this also includes any mounting and cable equipment necessary to the system. Some Internet service providers give customers the modem for free, which is great because otherwise there is usually a monthly lease fee for this equipment. Obviously these things are crucial to any Internet service, but the category itself shouldn't be overly important since almost all companies already provide these items.

  • Free Internet Modem - The Internet service provider offers a free Internet modem.
  • Internet Modem - The Internet service provider offers an Internet modem, usually to rent.
  • Mounting and Cable Hardware - The Internet provider will bring all necessary mounting and cable hardware.

Installation

Fairly Important
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Installation describes the types of installations that are available, and whether or not there is a warranty on the Internet service. Although it varies depending on the type of Internet service provider, most companies give their customers the choice of either installing the system on their own or having a professional do it for them, usually for an additional fee. Those who choose to have their system professionally installed often can schedule this installation online at a time that is convenient to them. Though this is only a one-time event, it is still important to ensure that the Internet service is installed correctly, so it is a good idea to consider this category when selecting your Internet provider.

  • Installation Warranty - The Internet service provider offers free assistance with anything that needs to be fixed within a certain time period after installation.
  • Professional Installation - The Internet service provider offers professional installation.
  • Schedule Online - You can schedule a professional installation appointment online.
  • Self Installation - You can install the equipment needed to get Internet service on your own.

Support

Fairly Important
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Support has to do with the different ways that customers can reach an Internet service provider with questions or concerns, and how frequently the company's support channels are available. The main types of support offered are email, phone, live chat, and social media support. The best Internet service providers have one or more methods of support available 24/7, as well as knowledgeable technical support staff to assist users in case problems arise. This category may not affect a consumer's day-to-day usage of the Internet service, but if an issue occurs, it is very important.

  • 24-Hour Support - You can receive customer service or support 24 hours a day through a dedicated support line.
  • Email/Ticket - The Internet service provider has an email or ticket system dedicated to support.
  • Live Chat - The Internet service provider offers live chat support.
  • Phone - You can contact the Internet service provider by phone to get support.
  • Social Media - You can contact the Internet service provider with questions through social media websites.
  • Tech Support - The Internet service provider offers technical support.

Extras

Less Important
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Extras refers to any additional perks or discounts that prospective customers get when signing up with the Internet service provider. The available bonuses vary significantly based on the type of Internet service. Satellite Internet providers often offer free usage zones, which is where any Internet usage does not count towards the monthly data limit. 4G mobile broadband providers may offer users a free Internet package, and cable Internet companies commonly offer bundled discounts for those who choose to also get TV and phone service through them. Bonuses are probably not crucial to most people, but there's no denying that they're nice options to have.

  • Bundled Phone Service - You can add phone service to your Internet package.
  • Bundled TV Service - You can add television to your Internet package.
  • Free Email Accounts - The Internet service comes with free email accounts.
  • Free Usage Windows - The satellite Internet provider offers a window where you can download and upload for free, even if you have already used your data allowance for the month.

Learning Materials

Less Important
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Learning Materials are the resources found on the Internet service provider's website that introduce customers to their products and services and walk them through solutions to technical problems. An FAQ is provided on almost every company's website, and a knowledge base provides more detailed explanations. User guides are useful for learning how to set up the Internet service and troubleshoot basic issues. For those answers that can't be found anywhere else, the top Internet providers have a forum where users can talk to each other and members of the company about the service. These features can be very useful, but probably do not have a large impact on most people's purchasing decision.

  • FAQ - The Internet provider has a list of answers to frequently asked questions.
  • Forum - The Internet provider has an interactive forum where users can post questions and answers.
  • Knowledge Base - The Internet provider has a knowledge base of detailed help articles.
  • User Guide - A user guide or training manual is offered by the Internet provider.

Signing Up

Less Important
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Signing Up encompasses the various different ways that new customers can sign up for the Internet service and the tools offered by the Internet provider to simplify the process. Most Internet providers allow people to sign up with them online, over the phone, or through an authorized dealer. One resource provided by many of the best Internet service providers is an online plan selector tool that guides customers to the plan best suited for their needs. An online tool to help locate a local dealer is also useful to those who prefer to sign up with an authorized dealer at a retail location. Signing Up is not the most important category, but it is something that Internet service providers should get right.

  • Authorized Dealers - You can sign up for Internet service in person through an authorized dealer at a retail location.
  • Find a Dealer - The Internet service provider's website has a feature that helps you find a dealer closest to you.
  • No Credit Check - You can get Internet service without going through a credit check.
  • Online - You can sign up for Internet service online.
  • Phone - You can sign up for Internet service by phone.
  • Plan Selector - The Internet service provider's website provides a plan selector tool to help you pick the right plan for your needs.

How Does Satellite Internet Service Work?


Satellite Internet, as the name suggests, is the the use of GEOstationary satellites in orbit around the Earth to deliver Internet to individual homes and businesses. The satellite connection originates at the Internet service provider (ISP), which uses a huge dish to beam signals up to a satellite in space, and then that signal is bounced back down to Earth and received by a customer's home satellite dish. Satellite Internet data must travel to space and back, and while the signal travels a great distance, there is only a very slight delay. However, this slight limitation is what makes this service slower than DSL and cable Internet, though it is still much faster than a dial-up Internet connection.

Satellite Internet has greatly improved over the last few years since new broadband satellite networks are made up of a new generation of GEO satellites that have many narrow spot beams, which achieve much faster speeds and carry more data than conventional broad beam satellites. These new advances in satellite technology have redefined the Internet experience, and have not only improved service, but have also brought down prices within the last few years. Satellite can still be more expensive than cable, DSL, or even 4G mobile broadband, with pricing usually running between $50 and $130 or more per month, depending on the exact data plan.

Speeds

Actual speeds vary by provider, but generally, download speeds are up to 10-15 Mbps and upload speeds are up to 1-3 Mbps, though these rates are not guaranteed by providers. Internet speed and service can be unreliable during bad weather, which interferes with the satellite signal. Inclement weather such as fog, heavy clouds, snow, and thunderstorms can all impact the speed and delivery of satellite Internet. However, because satellite Internet does not rely on a physical infrastructure or network of wires like cable Internet, so service is fairly reliable unless weather becomes a factor.

Coverage

Satellite Internet is available in every location, in every state, nationwide. Locations both in urban cities and in the middle of nowhere get the same exact quality and speed in an Internet experience. The only specific location requirement for this type of service is a clear view of the southern sky, without any obstruction of large trees or buildings. Each provider is not necessarily available in all areas, so be sure to check using an exact address.

Data Usage

Most satellite Internet providers offer several plans with different data limits at different price levels, but data limits do come with most plans. Basic plans usually allow for 10GB of data usage per month, which is best for the occasional web user, and upper-level plans, which provide about 25GB of data usage per month, are ideal for those who depend on using the Internet every day for work or entertainment. Once the data limit has been met, penalties may include overage fees and slower Internet speeds. The best satellite Internet providers make up for data limits by offering a free usage zone, usually sometime late at night, when all data downloaded and uploaded does not count against any monthly limits.

Equipment

More equipment is needed for service than the standard modem and router. A simple, small satellite dish must be installed outside at a customer's home or business in order to receive the Internet signal. A cable runs from the outside satellite to an indoor modem, which relays the connection to any connected devices or routers. Most companies require all equipment to be purchased or leased at a monthly rate. Also, installation is almost always done by a professional technician since a customer's satellite must be properly aligned. The best satellite Internet providers offer free or reduced installation fees, or allow customers to purchase equipment upfront to avoid long-term monthly leasing fees. Many providers require customers to commit to one or even two years of service.


Who is Satellite Internet Good For?


Satellite Internet can be an option for both city and country dwellers, but it is an extremely good option for those who live in areas where there is no option to subscribe to a wired connection, such as cable Internet. Most companies have data limits in place, and heavy downloading is generally not recommended with a satellite Internet connection. This may deter power web users, but satellite Internet does support all standard Internet browsing habits such as watching streaming videos, uploading photos, video chat, and sending and receiving email attachments. The always-on connection can support a whole household of devices including computers, tablets, smartphones, and anything else that can be hooked up to the Internet.

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