Satellite Internet vs Cable
As World War II concluded, many vets returned home to discover the amazing invention called television was becoming more widespread and offered an exciting escape for a war-weary nation. Unfortunately for many in mountain communities and rural areas, weak television signals meant that watching the latest news and tv shows could be a frustrating experience, or worse, wasn’t a possibility at all.
To solve this challenge, American ingenuity went to work and “community antennas” were built on mountain tops or elevated areas and were connected by cable lines to homes to provide stronger television signals. By the early 1950s, these “cable” systems had over 14,000 subscribers across the nation.1
By the 1960s, nearly 800 cable systems served over 850,000 subscribers and, after a brief shutdown by the FCC, cable subscribers enjoyed access to Home Box Office (HBO), the first pay network that revolutionized cable programming. Today, over 93 percent of all Americans have a cable TV subscription to over 800 programming networks.
Cable internet enters the picture.
Following the trend of cable television, cable internet providers offered internet subscribers the same strong connection as cable television viewers. In 1995, the first cable providers offered cable modems to customers and by 1996, hundreds of thousands of internet subscribers were using dial up internet through a phone line to connect with AOL and hoping to hear “you’ve got mail” on their home screens.
Fast forward to 2012 when Google Fiber is introduced spurring internet service providers to boost their internet plans and internet connections. Upload speeds reach 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) for downloading data and 1 Gbps for uploading files. Internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T U-verse and Verizon “fight fiber with fiber” and enter the mix with similar offerings.2 Today ISPs like Suddenlink offer affordable fiber internet with high speed internet with broadband capabilities – and internet technology only continues to grow.
Satellite internet: The future or a fad?
Just as satellite TV came onto the scene to compete with cable television, satellite internet (wireless internet) has also entered the picture. How does it work?
We think “Plug Things In” defines it well:
“Satellite internet is a wireless connection that involves three satellite dishes from a satellite provider; one at the internet service providers hub, one in space and one attached to your property. The satellite dish needs to be angled toward the clear, Southern sky. In addition to a satellite dish you also need a modem and cables running to and from the dish to your modem.
Once you have everything connected, the ISP will send the internet signal to the dish in space which then relays it to you. Every time you make a request (new page, download, send an email, etc.) it goes to the dish in space and then to the (ISP’s) hub. The completed request is then sent back through space, to your dish and then to your computer.”3
Satellite internet plans gained popularity with people living in remote areas and with few internet connection options. One of those options is typically dial up internet and the other is usually satellite internet. Satellite TV providers like DISH, FRONTIER, Hughesnet and DirecTV are internet service providers for satellite internet.
Cable internet versus satellite internet: Which is better?
Let’s take a closer look at how these two modes of internet access compare.
With the advent of fiber optic networks, cable internet connections have raised the level of internet performance to new heights with lightning fast connection speeds. Cable internet packages offer internet speeds up to 1 gigabits per second (Gbps). At this speed you can download a 500 megabit (Mb) file in approximately four seconds. Add fiber optic cable internet to the equation and you’ll see internet speeds increase up to 840 megabits per second (Mbps) and Mbps download speeds with bandwidth to spare.
With satellite internet, you can expect satellite internet speeds from 12 to 100 Mbps, depending on your ISP.
Most television network providers also offer internet services, making it possible to save money by bundling your TV, internet and sometimes even phone services. This is true for both cable television providers and satellite television providers.
Generally speaking, cable internet provides a much more reliable internet connection and internet signal than satellite internet providers. This is because the internet signal is transmitted through the cable and is a physical property.
Satellite internet signals, like satellite television signals, can be frequently interrupted by obstructions such as bad weather, including thunderstorms, sunspots, cloud cover, and snow, plus obstacles like trees, mountains and buildings.
Cable internet networks are typically low maintenance because the cables required are usually in place for each home. A home internet router is often all that is required.
Satellite internet requires more setup, including the installation of a satellite receiver on the outside of your home, accompanying connections, plus a home internet router. But you’ll also need to add a satellite modem, adding to your maintenance – and expenses.
Cable internet offers higher speeds, including upload speeds and download speeds, making it easy to stream videos (like Netflix movies and programs) and audio, access high speed internet, upload and download videos and photos, explore online gaming, and more. Speaking of gaming, latency is also key to your enjoyment. What is latency?
According to Bandwidth Place, “Latency, measured as ‘ping’, refers to the average total time that it takes your gaming device to send data and data caps to the game server, and back to your device for fast speeds. Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms) so if your ping is 100 ms then it takes 100 milliseconds for your computer to respond to a request from the game server.”4
Because of its satellite signal, satellite internet typically suffers from a lag in latency. Also, as compared to cable internet networks, satellite service has slower download speeds and upload speeds, streaming speeds, and internet access speeds.
While satellite internet service may be the only type of internet in rural areas and remote locations with little or no cable internet access, cable internet networks offer more internet speed and broadband capacity. This translates into faster speeds (think faster upload speeds and download speeds) than satellite internet.5
Add to the mix the prospects of fiber optic internet cable – which is now becoming more widely available across the nation and around the world – and the possibilities are virtually unlimited for future internet capabilities.
If you take a look at Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) internet, you’ll find that cable internet and fiber internet offer better capabilities and a better value. Of course, you should choose an internet service provider and internet services that best fit your specific needs, but it’s important to understand the performance capabilities of each internet option.
Connect with the things you enjoy most.
If you make the decision to use cable internet or fiber optic internet to your advantage, Suddenlink has the affordable resources you need to enjoy your Wi-Fi and internet connection to the fullest.
And, as mentioned earlier in this article, you can also save by bundling your internet service with our television and voice subscriptions. It’s a great way to get the best value while also getting the best television and internet options.
As the internet continues to evolve, you can trust Suddenlink to continue to provide leading-edge options. It’s the best way to stay connected to the things you enjoy most.