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Satellite Internet vs. Cellular Internet

A smartphone and laptop using satellite Internet and cellular Internet.

There are many different ways users can connect to the Internet, though, not all methods are equal. Everything from cable to fiber to cellular, fixed wireless, and satellite Internet options are available and each serves an important purpose. For millions of Americans, there can be a limited number of methods and/or Internet service providers (ISPs) for their homes. This makes gaining access to the Internet from home much more complicated than one might think in today’s world.

Satellite and cellular Internet options can provide homes with limited options a viable solution no matter what market their home is located in. Each method comes with its own set of hurdles to jump through and benefits to assist subscribers. By taking a closer look, we can begin to understand the best options for rural homes and what the not-so-distant future has in store for wireless communications. Let’s explore how satellite Internet and cellular Internet connections work and what they have to offer to you.

How Satellite Internet and Cellular Internet Work

Both satellites and cellular towers can deliver your home access to the Internet but how? The delivery methods are different for each and because of this, so are the results. Understand how each method works below:

How Does Satellite Internet Work?

Your signal is sent from your device to your modem and then to your antenna. It is then shot into space and received by satellite which then transmits your signal down to your ISP where it is received by their antenna. Finally, your signal is shot back into space to the satellite, received, and then sent back down to your antenna to the modem, and then to your device.

How Does Cellular Internet Work?

Cellular Internet is transmitted to your device by using the same cell towers your provider uses that allows you to make calls and send texts but connects you to the Internet. The distance traveled is simply from your device to the nearest tower and then back to your device.

As you can see, the biggest difference between the two methods is the distance that your signal has to travel to make a connection possible or a task executed. This distance plays a role in two major areas: speed and latency. Let’s dive into the type of speeds you can expect with each connection.

The Difference Between Satellite and Cellular Internet Speeds

Satellite Internet can provide an average of 25-35 Mbps, though it is possible to reach max speeds of 100 Mbps. Cellular Internet can perform at about the same rate with average speeds of around 12-30 Mbps, with the maximum speeds of 50 Mbps possible through 4G LTE. It should be noted that you can expect much lower speeds if not connected to 4G LTE which can be difficult to connect to in rural markets. This is due to its limited availability that is focused on mainly urban markets, and while satellite may seem to have a slight upside, a signal obstruction can affect both satellite and cellular Internet options but can cripple satellite heavily and hinder its speeds. But speed also isn’t everything. There are other connectivity factors to consider such as latency which can affect how you use your Internet including for time-sensitive applications including online gaming or streaming.

Differences Between Satellite and Cellular Internet Latencies

Latency is the lag in time between a user inputting an action and the response from your device. When connected to the Internet this means the time it takes for you to perform a task such as move a character in an online game on your controller and seeing that response occur on your screen or click a webpage and the page begin loading. Cellular Internet cannot compete with the likes of cable or fiber connections, however, it is well ahead of satellite Internet.

Because of the great distance, satellite Internet signals have to travel, users can expect certain levels of elevated latency which can affect the user experience (UX) of various functions including streaming, gaming, and even loading webpages. Even in ideal conditions, these latency issues may persist, however, if your home can experience signal obstruction or is in an area enduring weather such as rain, you can also experience a weaker connection which will mean slower speeds and higher latency.

5G, Fixed Wireless, and the Improvements of Cellular Internet

The future of cellular Internet is tied to the future of another form of Internet, fixed wireless, thanks to a common theme: 5G.

Over the next several years, we will begin to see more and more capabilities from 5G that will help improve wireless communications of many types across the board. Soon, cellular Internet will be capable of reaching download speeds that rival and surpass even wired connections. Reaching speeds that are ten times what is available now and averaging 300 Mbps with maximum speeds reaching 1000+ Mbps.

5G is also delivering fixed wireless connections that will be capable of surpassing the current generation and provide a better option for rural markets. This is especially exciting for homes that are incapable of receiving fixed wireless or satellite Internet because many providers are looking into 5G as a viable way to provide personalized networks powered by 5G. Enterprises will also see a huge benefit as custom solutions from ISPs such as DISH Wireless create end-to-end network solutions that can be tailored to specific needs.

Latency issues will also become a thing of the past as 5G will work to bring levels closer to 1 millisecond versus the 10-30 milliseconds seen in 4G LTE. This difference will lower latency to levels that when combined with the tremendous increase in download speeds 5G can support will provide new capabilities in many different applications including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and many other areas using both cellular Internet and fixed wireless Internet connections.

DISH Wireless is Building the Best Rural Internet Option in America

Cellular Internet will never be the same thanks to the unrolling of 5G throughout America and the rest of the world. DISH Wireless is leading the charge in the United States with a nationwide standalone (SA) 5G network. This innovative, cloud-native 5G network will take several years to build, though the company has a goal to have 75% of the countries major markets covered by June 2023, and will support mobile users, fixed wireless subscribers, and a host of enterprises. In the meantime, DISH Wireless is working to improve its current subscriber base after entering the wireless industry by purchasing Boost Mobile. The future is bright for cellular Internet and fixed wireless thanks to DISH Wireless who is developing a 5G network like none other!

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