Satellite Internet: Is it for You?The capabilities & limitations of satellite high speed internet.


If you can see the southern sky you can get satellite internet, but should you? For some, satellite internet is the only high speed internet option. For others, satellite internet may be one of many options. In this article we review some of the capabilities and limitations of satellite internet service. Will it fit your needs? Is it a viable option? Let's find out.

The Technology

Uses satellite signals to both transmit and receive data. No wires required - except electricity of course.


Generally available anywhere in the USA. Though an obstructed view of the sky may cause problems or limit access.


With the launch of Jupiter 2 (HughesNet) in 2016 and ViaSat-2 (ViaSat) in 2017 satellite internet speeds increased to about 30 Mbps. With the launch of Starlink in 2020, satellite internet speeds of up to 150 Mbps became available through their service on a limited basis. The launches of the ViaSat-3 and Jupiter-3 satellites are expected to increased speeds to 100 Mbps for subscribers of those services. As of writing the first of the three Viasat-3 satellites is already online and 100 Mbps download speeds are available in select areas.


Latency is an issue effecting satellite internet services. Essentially this means that there is a slight delay between requests and responses, primarily due to the distance traveled by the signal. This could be an issue if you want to use your high speed service for activities requiring faster response times such as online games or real-time stock trading. Additionally, VPN connections do not work well over "traditional" satellite internet services and can slow service by as much as 75%. Research and testing is recommended before proceeding to subscribe to satellite internet service for these types of activities. While these issues are not as prominent with Starlink's low-latency internet service, latency is still lower than a wired connection and occasional signal drops are to be expected.


Nowadays service is quite reliable, but bad weather can adversely affect performance and occasionally cause outages.


This is a common question. Mobility is one of the bigger advantages of satellite internet service. However, since satellite internet systems both transmit and receive data, the FCC requires that they be professionally installed. It can, however, be professionally installed in a mobile environment. Additionally the systems can be moved at a relatively low cost - about $50 per installation. If you switch between home and cabin once or twice a year, moving your system is not a big deal.

If you want to take your Satellite Internet on the road, a professionally installed mobile dish system can allow you travel anywhere with your dish. Mobile satellite internet equipment can cost between $3,000 and $8,000. The higher end models feature automatic aiming and retraction as well as integrated GPS. A perfect addition to that $200,000 Motor Home.

Starlink service is more mobile friendly since no special equipment is required and the system is self-installed, but they do charge an additional monthly fee if you want the ability to move outside your primary install location.


Costs range from $50 to $135 dollars per month depending on the plan and provider.

Other Considerations

About $600 in equipment is required for satellite internet service but you may be able to finance or lease it from the provider. You may or may not be required to pay for installation depending on the provider and their various incentive and rebate plans.

Since the satellites themselves can only transmit so much data, capacity issues can effect availability. Satellite internet may not be available in areas that already have too many users. If satellite is not available for you now, it may be in a few months.

So is Satellite Internet for you? Often the decision is predetermined by availability, but every situation is unique. Be sure to evaluate all options before choosing a satellite internet provider and weigh your options carefully.

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