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Fixed Wireless vs. Satellite: The Easier Internet Installation?

Updated: Dec 28, 2023


Fixed Wireless vs. Satellite: The easier install?

Hey there! Welcome to our super cool blog where we're chatting all about getting the internet in the countryside. Think of it like a treasure map, but instead of gold, we're hunting for the best internet connection! We'll compare two awesome options: fixed wireless and satellite internet. We're going to break down all the gadgets you need, how to set them up, and what it might cost you. Whether you're a do-it-yourself kind of person or prefer someone else to do the heavy lifting, we've got you covered. So, buckle up and join us on this fun adventure to stay connected, no matter where you are! 🌟🌐🚀


Table of Contents

Do I Need Special Equipment?

Cabling in Satellite and Fixed Wireless Internet

Can I Install It Myself?

How Quickly Can I Get Online?

What If I Move Houses?


Do I Need Special Equipment?

When setting up internet services in rural areas, understanding the detailed equipment requirements for both fixed wireless and satellite internet is essential. Here's a comprehensive breakdown:


Fixed Wireless Internet Equipment:

outdoor modem
  • Outdoor Device: An omnidirectional device is installed outside, typically on the roof or an exterior wall. This device is designed to communicate with the nearest base station, usually a cell tower, to receive the wireless signal.

  • Indoor Equipment (Router): The outdoor device is connected via a cable to a router located inside the home. The router converts the received wireless signals into a usable internet connection for devices within the home.

  • Additional Technical Considerations: Fixed wireless systems may employ advanced technologies like MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) for better signal strength and stability.

  • Costs and Procurement: Providers usually supply the necessary device and modem/router, often included in the service package. Customers might have options to either rent (average costs around $10-$20 per month) or purchase the equipment outright, which can range from $100 to $300, depending on the sophistication of the technology.

Satellite Internet Equipment:

satellite dish
  • Satellite Dish: A parabolic dish antenna is installed outdoors with a clear line of sight to the sky, typically directed toward the equator where the orbiting satellite is located. The dish size can vary but is generally larger than fixed wireless antennas, often around 30 inches in diameter.

  • Indoor Equipment (Modem and Router): The satellite dish is connected to a modem inside the home via a coaxial cable. This modem translates the satellite signal into an internet connection. The modem often includes a built-in router for wireless connectivity.

  • LNB (Low-Noise Block Down Converter): A critical component of the satellite dish, the LNB amplifies and converts satellite signals to lower frequencies for transmission to the indoor modem.

  • Mounting Bracket: For attaching the dish to a building or pole. Bracket costs can range from $35 to $100

  • Installation Specifics: Precise alignment of the satellite dish is essential for optimal signal reception, which often necessitates professional installation.

  • Costs and Procurement: The equipment, including the dish and modem, is typically provided by the satellite internet provider. Installation fees and equipment rental costs are common. Rental fees are similar to fixed wireless, while purchase costs, if applicable, can range from $300 to $600.


Fixed Wireless Modem Technology:


Functionality:

Fixed wireless modems act as a bridge between the external device receiving the wireless signal and the user's devices. They convert the radio frequency signals received from the base station into digital data that can be used by connected devices.


Dual SIM Modems:

Some fixed wireless modems come equipped with dual SIM capabilities. This feature allows the modem to connect to two different cellular networks. It can be particularly useful for ensuring consistent connectivity, as the modem can switch to a different network if one becomes unreliable or congested.


Dual SIM modems offer redundancy, which is critical in rural areas where network availability can fluctuate.


LTE/5G Technology:

Many modern fixed wireless modems are equipped with LTE (Long-Term Evolution) or even 5G technology, providing higher data rates, lower latency, and improved overall performance compared to older 3G technology.

LTE and 5G modems are capable of delivering speeds sufficient for streaming, gaming, and other high-bandwidth activities.


Satellite Internet Modem Technology:


Functionality:

A satellite modem serves as the intermediary between the satellite dish (antenna) and the user's devices. It converts signals received from the orbiting satellite into digital data that can be used for internet access.


Modem Types:

The technology in satellite modems varies depending on the service provider and the specific satellite network. Some newer systems use advanced modems compatible with higher frequencies (such as Ka-band) for improved bandwidth and speed.


Latency Considerations:

Due to the long distance, the signals must travel to and from the satellite, there is an inherent latency in satellite internet connections. Modern satellite modems and networks are designed to minimize this as much as possible.


Cabling in Satellite and Fixed Wireless Internet: A Detailed Comparison

The type and quality of cabling used in internet setups play a crucial role in the overall performance and reliability of the connection. Let's delve into the specifics of cabling used in satellite and fixed wireless internet services and compare their effectiveness.


coaxial cable

Cabling in Satellite Internet: Coaxial Cables

  • Usage: Connects the satellite dish (antenna) to the indoor modem.

  • Pros:

  • Robust and Well-Shielded: Less susceptible to signal interference and loss, essential for outdoor routing.

  • High-Frequency Handling: Capable of transmitting satellite signals efficiently.

  • Cons:

  • Signal Loss Over Distance: Potential degradation of signal quality over long distances.

  • Limited Bandwidth: Generally offers lower bandwidth compared to Ethernet cables.

  • Less Flexible for Upgrades: Upgrading network infrastructure can be more complex and costly.

cat 6 cable

Cabling in Fixed Wireless Internet: Ethernet Cables (Cat 5e or Cat 6)

  • Usage: Connects the outdoor device to the indoor modem or router.

  • Pros:

  • Higher Bandwidth Capacity: Especially Cat 6, suitable for high-speed data transfer.

  • Reduced Crosstalk: Reduced crosstalk in Ethernet cables, like Cat 6, refers to the minimized interference between different transmission channels. This is crucial for maintaining the clarity and quality of data signals, ensuring a stable and reliable internet connection.

  • Network Flexibility: Easier to upgrade and adapt network infrastructure.

  • Cons:

  • Limited Length Without Boosters: Signal quality can degrade over long cable runs without signal boosters.

  • Potential EMI Interference: Can be more susceptible to electromagnetic interference in certain environments.


Which Is Better for Your Connection: Ethernet or Coaxial Cable?

When determining the superior cable type for internet connectivity between coaxial cables used in satellite internet and Ethernet cables used in fixed wireless systems, Ethernet cables, particularly Cat 6, stand out as the better choice for most modern internet applications.


Here's why Ethernet cables have the edge:

Higher Bandwidth and Speed: Cat 6 Ethernet cables support higher bandwidths and faster data transmission speeds, crucial for today's high-speed internet requirements.

Reduced Crosstalk: The advanced design of Cat 6 cables minimizes crosstalk, ensuring a more stable and reliable connection, which is vital for activities like streaming, gaming, and video conferencing.

Network Flexibility: Ethernet cabling allows for more flexibility in network setup and is easier to upgrade, making it a more future-proof choice as internet technologies evolve.

Suitability for High-Speed Data Networks: Ethernet cables are designed to cater to the demands of high-speed data networks, making them more compatible with current and future internet technologies.


Can I Install It Myself? - DIY vs. Professional Installation

When it comes to installing internet services, particularly fixed wireless and satellite systems, the decision between DIY and professional installation depends on various technical, practical, and safety considerations.


DIY Installation: Fixed Wireless Internet

  • Feasibility: DIY installation of fixed wireless internet is generally more feasible than satellite. It involves mounting an outdoor antenna, running Ethernet cables, and setting up a modem/router.

  • Technical Requirements: Basic technical knowledge is needed like finding an optimal installation spot with minimal obstructions, ensuring proper cable routing, and setting up the indoor equipment correctly.

  • Equipment Needed: Besides the standard equipment provided (modem), you'll need basic tools like a drill, screws, and perhaps a ladder.

  • Safety Considerations: Ensure safe practices, especially when working at heights or on the roof.

  • Pros: Can be quicker and more cost-effective.

  • Cons: Improper setup can lead to suboptimal performance.


Professional Installation: Fixed Wireless Internet

  • Recommended for Complex Setups: If your home requires complex cabling or if the antenna placement is challenging, professional installation is advisable.

  • Safety: Eliminates the risks associated with working at heights.


DIY Installation: Satellite Internet

  • Complexity: Generally more complex due to the need for precise alignment of the satellite dish to communicate with a specific satellite.

  • Equipment and Tools: Requires the satellite dish, modem, cabling, and specialized tools for dish alignment.

  • Challenges: The critical aspect is the dish's alignment; even a slight misalignment can result in poor signal quality.

  • Not Recommended: Due to the precision required, DIY is often not recommended for satellite internet installation.


Professional Installation: Satellite Internet

  • Precision Alignment: Professionals use specialized equipment to precisely align the dish with the satellite, crucial for optimal service.

  • Handling Technical Challenges: Professionals can navigate obstacles like tall trees or buildings that might obstruct the signal.

    • Safety: They are trained to safely install the dish, often in high or hard-to-reach locations.

Conclusion:

While DIY installation of fixed wireless internet is relatively straightforward and may be suitable for those with some technical aptitude and proper tools, satellite internet installation typically demands professional expertise due to its complexity and precision requirements.


Fixed Wireless Internet Installation Costs:


  1. Equipment Costs:

  • The cost of the antenna and modem/router for fixed wireless systems. These are often included in your service package, but if not, prices can vary based on quality and specifications.

  1. DIY Installation:

  • If you opt for a DIY installation, the primary costs are the tools and equipment needed for the setup, which are generally minimal.

  • No professional installation fee is required, making this a more budget-friendly option.

  1. Professional Installation:

  • If you choose professional installation, costs will include labor and any additional equipment needed for installation.

  • Professional installation fees can vary but typically range from $100 to $200.

Satellite Internet Installation Costs:


  1. Equipment Costs:

  • The satellite dish, modem, and associated cabling. These are often included in the service package, but purchasing them separately can be more expensive due to the specialized nature of the equipment.

  1. Professional Installation:

  • Professional installation is almost always recommended due to the complexity of aligning the satellite dish correctly.

  • Installation fees can be higher for satellite systems, often ranging from $150 to $300, depending on the service provider and the complexity of the installation.

  1. Additional Considerations:

  • Sometimes, satellite installations may require special mounting equipment or structural adjustments, especially in areas with obstructions or specific housing structures.

Which is More Costly?

  • In general, satellite internet installations tend to be more expensive than fixed wireless installations. This is primarily due to the complexity of the satellite dish installation and alignment, which typically requires professional assistance.

  • Fixed wireless installations, especially when opting for a DIY approach, can be significantly less costly, with simpler equipment and less need for professional intervention.


How Quickly Can I Get Online? - Activation Time Comparison for Fixed Wireless and Satellite Services

Understanding the time it takes from installation to activation is a key factor in choosing between fixed wireless and satellite internet services. Here's a detailed comparison of the activation timelines for both.

Fixed Wireless Internet Activation Time:


DIY Installation: For those with basic technical skills, installing a fixed wireless system can take a few hours. This involves mounting the antenna, routing the cables, and setting up the modem/router.

Professional Installation: If opting for professional help, the installation process can be completed in about 1-3 hours, depending on the complexity of the setup and property layout.

Activation Process: After installation, the activation process is typically straightforward. Once the equipment is set up and connected, activation usually involves a simple system check and possibly a call or online activation through the service provider.

Activation can be almost immediate or take up to a few hours after the physical setup is complete.


Satellite Internet Activation Time:


Professional Installation: Given the precision required for dish alignment, satellite internet almost always requires professional installation. This process can take between 2-4 hours, depending on factors like accessibility, dish placement, and weather conditions.

Activation Process: Post-installation, the technician will generally handle the activation process. This includes aligning the dish, connecting the modem, and ensuring the system is receiving a strong satellite signal.


The activation itself, once the dish is aligned, is usually quick. However, aligning the dish to achieve optimal signal strength can be time-consuming and is the most critical part of the installation.


Comparison and Conclusion:


Fixed Wireless: Offers a quicker path to getting online, especially with DIY installation. Even with professional installation, the overall process from start to finish is typically faster than satellite.

Satellite: Requires more time primarily due to the dish alignment process. While the activation post-installation is quick, the total time from start to activation is generally longer.


In summary, if getting online quickly is a priority, fixed wireless internet generally provides a faster installation and activation process compared to satellite internet. The simpler equipment setup and less complex activation procedures contribute to this quicker turnaround time.


What If I Move Houses?- Service Portability and Relocation for Fixed Wireless and Satellite Internet

Moving houses can be challenging, especially when it comes to relocating your internet service. Let's explore how fixed wireless and satellite internet services fare in terms of portability and ease of relocation.

Fixed Wireless Internet Relocation:


Service Area Limitation:

Before planning a move, check if your fixed wireless provider offers service in the new location. Fixed wireless depends on proximity to a specific service tower, so you need to check with the provider.

Equipment Relocation:

The equipment (antenna and modem/router) is generally portable. If your new home is within the same provider’s coverage area, you can physically relocate the equipment.

Re-Installation:

Upon moving, the outdoor device will need to be reinstalled. This can often be done DIY or with professional help, depending on your comfort and expertise level.

Service Transfer:

Contact your provider to transfer your service to the new address. This may involve administrative changes and possibly a service call to ensure optimal setup.


Satellite Internet Relocation:


Wider Service Availability:

Satellite internet has the advantage of widespread coverage. Moving to a new location often doesn't require changing providers, as satellite coverage is generally nationwide.

Equipment Transport:

The satellite dish and modem can be moved to your new home. You might require a professional for satellite dish removal if the dish is in a hard-to-reach location. They have the expertise and equipment to remove the dish without causing damage to your property.

Professional Reinstallation:

Due to the precision needed in satellite dish installation, it’s recommended to have a professional reinstall it. A technician will need to properly mount and align the satellite dish at your new residence. This is essential for optimal service performance.

Service Continuity:

Inform your satellite provider of your move in advance. They can assist in transitioning your service and scheduling the reinstallation at your new address.


FAQs

Q1. How much does it cost to remove a satellite dish?

 The cost of removing a satellite dish varies depending on factors like the size of the dish, its location, and the complexity of the job. Typically, homeowners can expect to pay between $100 to $300 for professional removal services. However, prices may be higher if the dish is large, located in a hard-to-reach area, or requires extensive work to remove.


Q2. Can I install fixed wireless internet by myself?

A: Yes, DIY installation of fixed wireless internet is feasible if you have basic technical skills. It involves mounting the outdoor device, running cables, and setting up the router


Q3. How is fixed wireless internet installed?

Fixed wireless internet installation involves mounting a device, typically on a roof or exterior wall, to receive signals from a nearby base station. This device is then connected via Ethernet cables to a router, which provides Wi-Fi connectivity and converts the wireless signals into an Internet connection. Depending on the provider, this setup can often be done by the user (DIY) or through professional installation.


Q4. Are special tools required for satellite internet installation?

Special tools, such as alignment meters, are usually needed for satellite dish installation and alignment, which is why professional installation is often necessary.


Q5. What are the typical costs associated with installing fixed wireless and satellite internet?

Fixed wireless installation can be more cost-effective, especially if DIY. Satellite installation generally incurs higher costs due to the need for professional installation and specialized equipment.


Q6. How does weather affect the installation of fixed wireless and satellite internet?

Fixed wireless is generally more resilient to weather, while satellite dish installation can be affected by weather conditions, impacting signal strength and requiring precise alignment.





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