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Whether you are choosing a new internet service for your home or business, you are bound to find yourself perplexed given the variety of internet service providers, their speed and data offerings, and pricing.

To ensure you make the right decision, it is crucial to have a clear idea of your internet needs beforehand. Plus, you must be well-aware of what each connection type brings to the table by default—because each has unique characteristics that determine its performance. In fact, it’d not be an exaggeration to say, when it comes to opting for an ISP, the primary factor with the most impact on your service experience, is the internet type you choose. When you’re familiar with the pros and cons of each internet service type, it becomes a whole lot easier for you to switch to a service that works the best to meet your needs.

Today, we’ll be talking about cable and satellite internet—because while big urban centers across the U.S. maybe equipped with multiple wired providers, others may not be as fortunate. So, if you must choose between wired cable internet or wireless satellite internet, this learning is going to come in handy in your decision making process.

About Internet Connection Types

ISPs in the U.S. are engaged in providing quite a variety of internet service types—depending on where you live, you are likely to have wired and wireless options both at your disposal. DSL, Cable and Fiber make the wired variety, while Satellite and Fixed Wireless are the wireless residential options.  

As for wired networks, DSL is the most widespread because it utilizes copper phone lines to deliver the service—and Copper infrastructure has been in place in the U.S. for many decades. Coaxial cable networks have also been around for a good while—albeit early systems were only used to amplify broadcast TV signal and relay it to users via coaxial cable lines. It was by the 1990s the cable modem was introduced, making residential cable internet a reality. As for fiber optic internet, although it took a while for the blazing-fast internet to hit the residential market, the tech is not as new. 

Satellite internet has also been around for almost 2 decades now, and undoubtedly the most widely available type across the U.S. by default. Fixed Wireless which uses a series of transmission towers to carry the signal from the backhaul connection is a rather recent introduction in the residential internet market, but presents a great option for rural America where available.  

Based on ready availability of high-speed internet, among the wired types cable internet is still the most popular choice. And, while in urban regions satellite internet may not make sense to users, for rural America, it presents a viable option.  

Cable Internet

As we said earlier, like your cable TV service, cable internet is also transmitted through the underground coaxial cable network. Over the years, the extended fiber optic backbone of the system paired with DOCSIS 3.0 & 3.1 networking standards, has made it possible for most cable internet providers to deliver  a more reliable and faster service which rivals fiber optic download speeds. Upload speeds have also considerably increased, but not as fast as the downstream.

A great advantage that comes with subscribing to cable broadband is that since you receive both internet and TV via the same network, service providers are often able to offer the two services at discounted rates.

As for the downside to cable internet, users are likely to experience noticeably slow internet speed during peak times—because when your neighbor is also connected to the same network, you share the available bandwidth with them.  

Cable Internet Speeds & Data

With hybrid Fiber-Coaxial networks such as utilized by nationwide cable internet providers like Spectrum, Optimum, Suddenlink, Mediacom, and Cox, you can expect up to 940 Mbps fast internet. While upload speeds may go as high as 50 Mbps.  

As for data allowance, some providers are generous enough to offer unlimited data, while others limit usage to about 1TB per month—which is virtually unlimited for standard household usage.

Cable Internet Prices

Cable internet subscription cost varies depending on the speed tier and perks you get alongside. Variation also occurs from one provider to another though not as much. Another factor that plays a role in pricing is the region you are located in—mainly due to the difference in network capacity and state regulated taxes and fees. Largely speaking when you bundle cable internet with other services offered by a provider, you can end up saving a few bucks—as we explained earlier.

Most cable internet service providers offer packages in the range of $20 and $110 per month—depending on the speed tier and other factors mentioned above. The only caveat is in almost all cases the introductory price expires when the promo period, which is usually one year, comes to an end.

Cable Internet Providers

The U.S. ISP industry boasts over 450 cable internet providers—some with a nationwide footprint and others limited to a particular region. For instance, Xfinity from Comcast and Charter Spectrum™ which provide coverage in 40 or more states—and others like WOW! and Grande which are limited to a certain number of states.

Here is a quick comparison of some big names among cable internet service providers:  

 

 

Provider

Per Month Promo Price Range

 

Download Speed Range

Data Cap

Spectrum

$49.99 - $109.99

200 Mbps - 940 Mbps  

No

Mediacom

$49.99 - $79.99

100 Mbps - 940 Mbps

Yes

Optimum by Altice

$45 - $80

300 Mbps - 940 Mbps

No

Suddenlink by Altice

$35 - $75

200 Mbps - 940 Mbps

Depends on the Plan

Windstream Kinetic

$37 - $67

200 Mbps - 1 Gbps

No

Cox

$29.99 - $99.99

10 Mbps - 940 Mbps

Yes

WOW!

$29.99 - $64.99

100 Mbps - 1 Gbps

No

Grande

$35.99 - $69.99

300 Mbps - 1 Gbps

No

Wave

$39.95 - $79.95

100 Mbps - 1 Gbps

Depends on the Plan

RCN

$29.99 - $59.99

50 Mbps - 940 Mbps

No

Xfinity from Comcast

$19.99 - $299.95

15 Mbps - 2,000 Mbps

Yes

*Speed and offer availability may vary with location.

What is Satellite Internet?

Instead of moving data through underground cables or making use of utility poles to extend them into a neighborhood, satellite internet is delivered via a satellite dish installed at your premises. This piece of equipment is responsible for sending and receiving the signal to and from the orbiting satellite in the space.  

Since satellite internet signal is beamed back from space, the service can be accessed coast to coast—essentially anywhere you can catch a clear view of the southern sky. And, this is why satellite internet makes for a viable option for residents of remote and rural regions where wired options are in most cases limited to traditional slow DSL.  

Satellite Internet Speeds & Data

Satellite internet speeds usually average out at 25 Mbps, which hits the Federal Communications Commission’s current broadband benchmark. For all standard usage this speed is quite enough, but latency is the one factor which undermines the output to an extent. With that said, higher latency is part and parcel of satellite internet because the signal has to travel about 45,000 miles round trip before you establish a connection.

As for data allowance, satellite internet has remained capped for long, although in recent times Viasat has not only been able to push max available speed to 100 Mbps, but offer some plans with unlimited data. On the other hand, HughesNet Internet download speed goes as high as 25 Mbps for all plans, while each comes with a different data cap.

Satellite Internet Prices

Satellite internet pricing is mainly driven by speed and data. But, generally speaking, it is the pricey choice out there, given the high cost of establishing and maintaining a network infrastructure that stretches from earth to space.

Largely speaking, satellite internet prices range from $50.00 to $150.00 per month—with plans that offer higher speeds and/or more data sold at higher price points. So, if you are heavy user of the internet, you may have to shell out a good buck to stay online. Nonetheless, if other available options are too slow to do the job, investing wisely in a satellite internet plan can rid you of everyday frustration.

Satellite Internet Providers

There is no denying access to reliable and fast internet is necessary to run your everyday life—whether you have to earn a living or study online, carry out mundane tasks like shopping and banking or enjoy leisure time activities such as streaming and gaming—or you need the internet because you must stay in touch with family and friends. But when you are a victim of the digital divide, or live in an area so remote that no wired network reaches you, satellite internet comes to the rescue.

HughesNet and Viasat are the top two satellite internet service providers with coverage right across the US. Albeit pricey, depending on your speed and data needs, as well as budget, plans offered by these providers can get you online at decent speeds with capped or unlimited data.   

Providers

Per Month Promo Price Range

 

Download Speed Range

Data Cap

HughesNet

$ 49.99 – $139.99

25 Mbps

10GB – 50GB

Viasat

$50.00 – $150.00

12 Mbps – 100 Mbps

80GB – 300GB

$89.99 - $149.99

12 Mbps – 30 Mbps

Unlimited

 

Installation of the Internet Service

Satellite internet installation is complex, so professional installation is the way to go. Let the technicians take charge of the entire installation process. The upfront cost involved may be a consideration, but then its not any more expensive than that of a wired internet connection. Just that with cable internet you are at liberty to opt for a self-install kit and a DIY job. With that said, where self installation saves you on upfront cost of service installation, you do not remain eligible to benefit from provider’s tech support—and that can be a significant downside.  

Comparison Between Cable and Satellite Internet

With all said and done, whichever type fits your needs and wants, and is within budget, is right for you.  Here is a quick comparison of the two internet types to help you shape a clearer picture.

Cable Internet

 

Satellite Internet

  • More reliable, more consistent speeds, low latency
  • High download and upload speeds
  • Unlimited data or big data allowance
  • Affordable as standalone service and still cheaper when you bundle with TV and Voice
  • Widely available but not everywhere in the U.S.
  • Self installation is possible

 

  • Less reliable, less consistent, high latency
  • Lower download and upload speeds
  • Unlimited data plans are available but more expensive. Data allowance is not nearly as generous as cable internet
  • Pricey and becomes more expensive with higher speeds and more data, bundle options save, but are limited 
  • Available everywhere in the U.S.
  • Pro-installation is the right way to go

 

End Note

Cable internet is an excellent choice for families especially large ones with varied interests, diverse activities, and heavy consumption. On the other hand, if no wired option is available or slow DSL is all you have, satellite internet makes for a solid connection—the price maybe on the higher side, but it is about the value you get out of it.

Speak to professionals at 1-855-349-9309, find about which internet service options are available in your ZIP code, get their advice on which one maybe the best fit for your unique set of needs—and subscribe. Whether it’s a HughesNet internet plan or package, or a Spectrum internet plan, we hope this discussion helps you make the choice that is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I already have cable internet, can I just add TV service?

Yes, with cable internet providers like Spectrum, Mediacom and Cox, you can bundle your internet service with TV. Bundling is great for maximizing the value of your subscription and saving.

Does satellite internet work in urban areas?

As long as you have a clear view of the southern sky, satellite internet will work perfectly fine in every part of the US.

Is satellite internet reliable?

Yes, satellite internet is reliable albeit due to the way the service is delivered, latency is high, and it may also fall victim to severe weather conditions.