Is Internet Provided Via Satellite Faster Than DSL?

The vast majority of American households now use the Internet in one form or another, but they don’t all access it the same way. Two of the most popular types of home Internet today are DSL and satellite. They are often confused for each other and, with improving satellite technology, their practical performance can be nearly the same. However, understanding their key differences is essential when picking a Web service provider. Speed, cost and availability can all vary wildly from house to house, but there are a few general trends to keep in mind.

What is Satellite Internet?

Satellite Internet is a form of wireless Internet most often seen in rural areas that do not have access to cable or DSL. It uses a satellite receiver on the property, which beams and receives signals to and from a stationary satellite in orbit.




Satellite is one of the most expensive options available today, because it requires professional installation of the receiver and comes with high monthly fees. Service is also sometimes spotty during inclement weather or if the Southern portion of the sky is blocked. Satellite provides coverage for those who would otherwise have to go without, but its existing technology is still far from ideal. Its major selling point, besides being ubiquitous, is its reliability compared to DSL.

What is DSL?

DSL, or digital-subscriber lines, operates along telephone lines and requires little or no set-up. Where satellite internet needs specialized equipment and a trained technician to install, anyone with a working phone line can have a DSL connection set up in an hour or less. Information is carried through the wires, usually to a modem, which then transmits to a router to provide wireless Internet.

DSL is more widely available than cable but not so prevalent as satellite. Because it uses basic, existing infrastructure, it is cheaper than satellite and also more reliable. DSL is perhaps the most consistent type of Internet, making it a favored choice for online gamers and other heavy bandwidth consumers. On the other hand, any time the phone lines go down, the Internet is knocked out as well.

Comparing Speeds

Currently, DSL outperforms satellite in most aspects. Having a physical means of transporting information is simpler and faster than sending it to and from outer space. Speed is measured by three factors: latency, download and upload.

Latency is the amount of time it takes for a request to receive a response from a broadband provider. Hiccups in performance, especially when streaming lots of information, is caused by latency issues. Satellite is significantly worse than DSL in this area. Even the worst DSL connection is about twice as fast.

Download speed measures how much information is sent to a computer over a certain period of time. It is usually measured in megabits per second. A fast satellite connection is almost equal to a slow DSL connection in this area. Upload speeds are determined by how much information a computer can send out to the Web and uses the same units. DSL and satellite are evenly matched in upload speeds. This may not be true in all cases; DSL speeds are impacted by distance from the service provider, meaning many rural households will see similar speeds on either.

Which is Better for the Future?

Despite recent refinements in the satellite system that improve speeds and reduce prices, it seems clear that DSL is the best option. With better performance in almost all categories and more affordable costs, the only real reason to pick satellite over DSL is if DSL is unavailable or if a home or business needs a constant supply of slow but steady Internet. It is this reliability that keeps satellite Internet going strong and may someday cause it to once again become the dominant broadband provider.

Getting the best wireless internet experience is crucial. In public or at home, wireless access is both convenient and practical. There are DSL and satellite options available to many people. Both can be compared for nearly any address. Simply look up your area on to find deals on wireless internet.

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