An In-Depth Comparison of Satellite v. Fixed Wireless Internet

An In-Depth Comparison of Satellite v. Fixed Wireless Internet

Although, often perceived as similar Internet solutions, fixed wireless and satellite connections are far from the same. While both require a dish or antenna and both are a form of wireless connection, there are several key differences between the two that impact the quality and reliability of the service.

Satellite Internet involves transmitting signals from a dish to an orbiting satellite 22,300 miles above the Earth’s equator. After the signal is received, it is beamed back to the ISP’s Network Operations Center (NOC) which is connected to the Internet. This method and significant travel time opens the door to interference and compromised service.

Fixed wireless utilizes radio links to connect two fixed points – the service provider’s tower, also known as a Point-of-Presence (PoP) with a building. Fixed wireless towers are land-based and are no taller than cell service towers minimizing the opportunity for atmospheric disruption.

Latency

This refers to the length of time it takes to send a signal and the information it contains via a connection. Satellite travels from dish to the satellite in orbit, back down to the service provider’s NOC. The vast distance traveled causes an increase in latency meaning that even a high-speed connection can be slowed and suffer from inherent satellite delay.

In contrast, a fixed wireless signal only travels between the receiver and the nearest tower – often fewer than 10 miles apart. The reduced distance is reflected with reduced latency and a superior connection.

Weather

Rain, storms and other weather systems can affect the quality of a satellite connection

Satellite signal travels up through the atmosphere and back. As a result, the connection can be impacted by weather systems. A lightning storm in Alabama could impact the quality of service experienced in neighboring Georgia. 

On the other hand, fixed wireless is unaffected by weather. Towers and PoPs don’t come anywhere near to interacting with atmosphere so cloud and rain cannot impact the connection. Similarly, the signal covers a shorter distance so a storm in surrounding areas will not have an effect on service.

Data Caps

A major issue when employing satellite technology is that many service providers enforce data caps. Using too much data will result in penalties in the form of restricted speeds or over-usage charges. For a business requiring a stable connection, the risk of throttled bandwidth or additional costs is not an option.

Fixed wireless providers are able to be transparent with their service. No data caps are employed and the bandwidth delivered is that which is expected and agreed upon between provider and customer. The lack of a data cap means companies can make the most of reliable bandwidth to use a VoIP phone system, upload and download data at rapid speeds, stream music and videos, and use any Internet-based applications safely with the knowledge there will be no extra charge to follow.

Price and Contracts

The final comparison is the one that can make all the difference – price. Despite all of its advantages, fixed wireless remains cheaper to set up and to operate. Satellite service providers often demand a longer-term agreement with higher monthly charges. With better quality of service at a lower price point, fixed wireless certainly has the edge over satellite.

How Can You Be So Certain?

Fixed wireless is growing. It’s more reliable and affordable than satellite and as more businesses and individuals recognize the value fixed wireless holds, the number of users in the US is expected to double to 8 million by 2021 – according to a recent report published by The Carmel Group.

To find out more about fixed wireless solutions provided by One Ring Networks and to learn how we can help meet your company’s objectives, please contact us at 404-303-9900 or sales@oneringnetworks.com

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Sam Mountstephens

Tags: Fixed Wireless

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