Long gone are the days of dial-up Internet. Today, there’s an overabundance of high-speed Internet options to choose from, such as DSL, or digital subscriber line, fiber optic Internet and two of the most popular options to home and business owners, cable and satellite Internet.
Before we get too much into cable vs. satellite and which is the better Internet option, it’s first important to take a closer look at the specifics of each. Cable Internet is a high-speed option that is provided by the cable company and thereby uses the cable television infrastructure. Satellite Internet, on the other hand, is typically provided by satellite TV companies and uses three satellite dishes – one in space, one at the provider’s hub and one at the home or business location – to provide Internet.
Both cable and satellite Internet options are widely available to U.S. consumers and are both high-speed, always-on options. But at the same time, both cable and satellite have a variety of differences which helps give them a competitive advantage over the other. Here’s a look at some of these notable differences and what sets cable largely apart from its satellite counterpart:
- Speeds: While both options are capable of providing high-speed connectivity much faster than DSL or dial-up, there are a few notable factors that separate the two in terms of promptness. For one, cable has a higher ping rate. Specifically, ping rate is the time a connection takes to communicate between devices. Since satellite is essentially working with three separate satellites, the ping time is higher, thereby making Internet operations slightly slower. While this isn’t a big deal in many cases, it’s quite noticeable if you’re a gamer. One small knock against cable Internet, however, is that cable users share the same network in an area. This may equate to slower speeds if many users in your area are using the Internet at the same time as you.
- Download caps: Satellite Internet typically comes with a download cap, thereby restricting users to a certain amount of data over a given period of time. Think of download caps like a smartphone data plan – you’re only permitted so much each month before your speeds are throttled back. Some satellite providers have the option to pay for more data. Cable, on the other hand doesn’t have any download caps.
- Always on: Both satellite and cable are always on, meaning that all you need to do is click on whatever Internet browser you use to begin your session – there’s no signing in, dialing up, etc. However, while they are both “always on,” there are some examples of when service may be lost. In cable, lost connectivity is most common in the event of a power outage or network maintenance. In satellite, connectivity is commonly interrupted by signal loss, which is likely due to weather. While satellite has advanced to the point where this isn’t as big of an issue as it was in the early days of satellite Internet, it’s still a problem in very heavy storms.
- Cost: Cable Internet is cheaper than satellite Internet. This is due to the costs associated with delivering internet from space. Also, the old supply and demand rule of economics. You see, cable Internet is widely available and a preferred Internet option. On the other hand, satellite is usually sought by consumers who aren’t suitable for cable Internet infrastructure. In other words, satellite is more sought by rural consumers who aren’t able to receive cable Internet – or any other type of high-speed Internet option for that matter. Since satellite is typically the only option for this group of customers, it usually costs more.
However, that final point of availability is perhaps satellite Internet’s greatest strength. While cable is widely available in the U.S., the fact of the matter is that it’s not available everywhere. Satellite, on the other hand, is. Satellite Internet services are available in the most remote areas where telephone poles and cable infrastructure isn’t present. In fact, satellite service is available not just about anywhere in the United States, but just about anywhere on planet Earth.
So while cable holds many advantages over satellite Internet, the greatest competitive advantage of satellite over cable is its anywhere availability. For more information on high-speed Internet and satellite Internet, contact us today.