So you’ve packed up your things and moved your family away from the hustle and bustle of the BIG City out to the crisp, clean, country air of Rural Town, U.S.A… but then it hits you, “What do these country folks do out here for high-speed internet!?”
Phone call after phone call you to make to every internet/cable company you’ve ever seen an advertisement for, but no one services your address.
Frustration sets in.
To many, this realization that fiber optic cables and high-speed broadband connections are things that you left behind along with the traffic lights and fire hydrants of the big city, can be a HUGE culture shock.
But take a deep breath… There’s no need to stress, satellite internet has got you covered on all your Wi-Fi needs! It might not be the option you’re hoping for but it’s the best option you have.
Satellite, It’s Better Than You Thought
With advances in technology, the two titans of satellite internet service, HughesNet and Viasat/Exede, both released their premier latest and greatest satellite dishes in 2017.
HughesNet launched their Gen5 series powered by EchoStar XIX that boasts a 25mbps speed across the board on all tiered data plan. That means just like a data plan on a smartphone, you’ll be choosing a plan for your Wi-Fi in the household. But no worries if you exceed your data allowance for the month, there are no overages, just throttled speeds 3-5mbps typically. You can still snoop on your ex-boyfriend from high school on Facebook with that.
Additionally, the FCC ranked HughesNet #1 in the nation “among all internet providers for providing the speeds that they advertise.”
Viasat/Exede with their Boeing built Viasat-2 dish offers speeds up to 200mbps in select areas complimented with unlimited data plans. That’s a never-before advertised speed for satellite internet but can end up burning a hole in your wallet. But some people won’t let dollar bills stand in their way of super high-speed internet.
Basically, every satellite internet company is going to require a two-year commitment but in a way that’s a benefit rather than a downside. This keeps your rates the same. Viasat will guarantee you the rate for three years even though you are only in a contract for two. HughesNet typically only increases by $15 after two years. Both offer “vacation modes” perfect for second homes where you can suspend the service up to 6 months out of the year at minimal costs.
Satellite is a more expensive technology than your familiar “cable lines run to the home” technology, so it will generally cost you about $60-$110 depending on plans available in your area. But with the cost of living being cheaper in the country, it evens out in a way. And can you really put a price on the peace and quiet that country life offers?
But what about the weather? Will I lose my signal if it rains or snows? The new technology that arose in 2017 has alleviated some of the stress on weather affecting service. It’s not perfect but it’s also not horrible.
Can my kids play their video games?
They can, and most games will work. Certain games that require an instant response in online multiplayer arenas will suffer due to lag or latency. Essentially, they’ll hit a button and it will take 1-3 seconds for the desired action to happen. Because the signal needs to travel from your home to outer space to hit the satellite dish in orbit and then back down to earth to the gaming servers and then back to your home – that’s added distance wired internet services do not have to travel to outer space — causes the lag. It’s enough to make the most hardcore gamer rage and throw their controller through a television screen. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) suffer from the same issue. First person shooters and sports games will suffer the most from this.
All other types of games will work like RPGs, Minecraft, casino games, and apps on tablets and phones. The kids should really be outside playing anyways like we all did growing up.
Can I Stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and all the others?
You most certainly can!
There’s not one plan offered by both HughesNet or Viasat that isn’t capable of streaming video in HD. The only drawback is that if you’re on a tiered data plan, you can eat away your entire data allowance for the month in a single weekend by binge-watching “Breaking Bad.” A good rule of thumb is for every hour of streaming in the highest HD, 1 GB (gigabyte) is used. There are added tools with both companies that will pre-set the picture quality to lowered HD settings to alleviate the amount of data used to stream. Test it out on YouTube.
Go ahead. I’ll wait…
Open it up now and play a video. Click on the settings and lower the picture quality to 480p. It’s not that bad. Who needs to have the picture quality at its highest setting just to make out every pore on Walter White’s face?
Many country living folks have accepted data tiered plans as a reality and use television services like DirecTV and Dish Network to remedy the need for video entertainment. HughesNet and DirecTV even offer a bundle discount with over 150 channels, a DVR, and 25mbps for under $100 for the first year. Second-year pricing currently goes up by $43.
What are the startup costs for satellite internet?
Startup costs are next to none. HughesNet will require you pay for the first month’s bill upfront. With a $50 discount often applied to the first month, the first bill is less than $20 in most instances. Viasat has no startup costs and usually offers its own discount for the first three months. Both will require a valid form of payment on file and promote automatic bill pay and paperless billing. You can request a paper bill if you’re old-fashioned like that for a small monthly fee.
Equipment is leased at about $10 a month. They do offer lifetime lease options where you pay a one-time amount to erase all equipment fees off future bills. Should you ever cancel the service, you will need to return the modem/router even if you paid the one-time fee or else expect a hefty charge.
As far as installation goes, it’s free and easy for those able to pass a credit check. Installation ranges from anywhere from two to three hours. The customer gets the final say on where the dish is installed. Most will put it on their roof to not only achieve the best line of sight to the southern sky but also to keep it out of the way in the yard when mowing the grass.
So, all-in-all there is still light at the end of the internet tunnel for all your social media and streaming needs on all your fancy wireless devices. Giving you no reason to regret replacing the big city lights with the cool country nights.
Guest Post by James Begley
Edited by Kyle Weckerly