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How Do I Choose the Best Satellite ISP?

Choosing the best satellite ISP often depends on price and services provided.
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  • Written By: Robert Grimmick
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2014
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When choosing a satellite internet service provider (ISP), it is important to make sure the provider meets your needs and expectations. It’s a good idea to check reviews from other users in your area before deciding to commit to a service. Compare the cost of plans and equipment from multiple providers to find the best value. Finally, make sure that you understand both the limits of satellite technology and any additional limitations imposed by your chosen provider.

A satellite ISP uses satellite technology to deliver Internet access to areas with few or no high-speed Internet options. The advantage of satellite technology is its ability to provide service to areas where other services simply don’t exist. Satellite ISPs serve many parts of the world, but trees, buildings or mountains might block the satellite signal in some locations.

There are a number of ISP review websites that can help you choose a satellite ISP. Some sites will pair an ISP speed test with user reviews. Many will let you search by location, allowing you to see reviews from satellite users in your area. You also can ask your neighbors what they use for Internet access.

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It is common for a satellite ISP to offer different plans or levels of service. The principal difference between plans are the connection speeds. In addition to a monthly charge, some satellite ISPs charge installation or equipment fees. A single satellite ISP also might have several resellers — independent companies that market services for one or more providers. Resellers sometimes offer cheaper rates or better promotions than an ISP, and they can be useful when comparison shopping.

Satellite ISPs frequently encourage or require customers to commit to long-term contracts. If a customer cancels his or her service before the contract expires, he or she is charged an early termination fee. Some providers will offer cheaper monthly rates or waive fees in exchange for a longer commitment.

It also is common for a satellite ISP to impose usage limits on its customers, usually known as either a fair access policy or an acceptable use policy. After passing a certain download or upload threshold, connection speeds are reduced. Specific providers impose these limits in different ways. One satellite ISP might have daily usage limits, and another might impose monthly restrictions. More expensive service plans frequently have more lenient restrictions.

There are limits to satellite technology that affect all providers. In a satellite connection, data must travel to and from an orbiting satellite, which takes longer than in other types of connections. Applications that rely on fast-moving data, such as multiplayer games and Internet telephony software, generally will work poorly on any satellite ISP.

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