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What’s the Difference Between Fixed Wireless and Satellite Internet?

March 1, 2024

Twin Valley Fixed Wireless March 2024

According to a 2021 study published by the Pew Research Center, only 72 percent of rural Americans have access to a broadband internet connection at home, making access to high-speed internet a looming problem for many rural communities. Thankfully, local service providers like our team at Twin Valley remain committed to expanding high-speed internet access across the state and are offering next-gen fixed wireless internet as an alternative to traditional DSL subscriptions. If you’re in need of a reliable internet connection but not quite sure which route to take, worry not; our team is breaking down the key differences between fixed wireless and satellite internet below!

What Is Satellite Internet?

If you live in a rural community, you’ve undoubtedly heard of satellite internet. It’s one of the oldest types of rural internet service and operates by utilizing satellites orbiting the Earth to transmit and receive data signals. Because these data signals are transmitted to and from users’ dish antennas, a representative from your service provider must install a satellite receiver and broadcaster at your home, ensuring it’s located in the most central area. While satellite enables internet access in remote or rural areas where traditional wired connections may not be feasible, it’s no longer the most up-to-date technology in the game.

What Is Fixed Wireless?

Enter fixed wireless—a high-speed internet option without the limitations of traditional wired connections. Fixed wireless employs radio signals transmitted between a base station and an antenna installed at the user’s home, bypassing the need for physical cables. While you will still require a representative to install your receiver, they will be targeting a nearby structure instead of a satellite, creating a faster and more reliable connection.

Bandwidth

When evaluating your internet options, it’s important to account for bandwidth (how your internet speeds are measured). Because of its near line-of-sight transmission, fixed wireless can deliver impressive speeds, making it ideal for bandwidth-intensive activities like streaming 4K videos or downloading large files. While offering decent bandwidth, satellite internet is more likely to experience fluctuations in speed due to the distance data must travel between Earth and orbiting satellites. Most commonly, average satellite speeds fall between 10 megabits per second (Mbps) and 35 Mbps (some providers may reach up to 200 Mbps), whereas our next-gen fixed wireless speeds at Twin Valley can reach speeds up to 500/125 Mbps!

Latency

Let’s talk latency. Latency refers to the time it takes for data to travel from the source to its destination and is measured in milliseconds (ms). When using a satellite dish, your data will suffer from a higher latency, as your data must travel longer distances through the atmosphere to the satellite. Even under the best conditions, you can expect a latency of around 500 ms, whereas fixed wireless routinely offers a latency of 50 ms or less. Due to close proximity to towers, latency is generally lower with fixed wireless, resulting in smoother online experiences for activities requiring real-time interaction, like online gaming or video conferencing!

Weather

What’s weather got to do with your internet connection? Well, the truth is the weather may significantly alter your online experience, depending on whether you have satellite service or fixed wireless. Heavy rain, snow, or dense cloud cover can hinder or block satellite signals, leading to temporary service disruptions or poor performance. Even worse? It doesn’t have to be storming where you live—if the station sending your satellite a signal is experiencing rain and harsh weather, you may still experience interruptions. In contrast, fixed wireless doesn’t have to travel through the upper atmosphere to transmit a signal, making it less susceptible to weather-related interference.

The Case for Fixed Wireless

Now that you’re in the know, it’s time to make your final decision. Fixed wireless or satellite internet? While both options offer unique advantages, the choice ultimately depends on your individual circumstances, including location, usage requirements, and budget considerations. Most often, fixed wireless will be the choice of internet, as it offers a more local option, resulting in lower latency, increased reliability, quick customer service, and more affordable pricing. The only drawback? It’s not yet as widely available and may not be available in your area.

Try Twin Valley

At Twin Valley, we understand the need for reliable high-speed internet and are working hard to bring our next-gen fixed wireless to our rural neighbors. Check availability near you and view the best Twin Valley service plans and pricing, or explore our current expansion projects to find out where we’re expanding our services next!

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