Explained: Key differences between cable and satellite internet


Most consumers are familiar with cable internet but satellite internet is not that mainstream yet. However, satellite internet technology can offer internet access regardless of location. This can help reduce the digital divide in areas with low coverage of terrestrial internet technologies. Satellite internet can also provide high internet speed and a high level of service reliability. Earlier, we discussed how satellite internet works and how it can be useful. Here, we will discuss how satellite internet is different from a cable internet.
Difference between cable internet and satellite internet
Cable internet goes through underground coaxial cables that use inner copper wires that are wrapped by insulation to transmit data. Cable TV signals also use similar types of cables to transmit data. Coaxial cables transfer data much faster than the phone lines used by dial-up connections. However, fiber optics are even faster than coaxial cables.
A satellite internet connection doesn’t need to travel through underground cables as this service is beamed from satellites orbiting the Earth. A dish receiver placed near you can pick up the signal and transmit it to your modem, which is eventually translated into a usable internet connection. Satellite internet is available almost everywhere. This signal comes from space, so it can be picked anywhere if there is a clear view of the sky. This makes satellite internet the only option for people in rural areas that lack access to cable or fiber connections.
Cable internet v/s satellite internet: Internet service providers
Most urban or semi-urban areas usually have multiple cable internet providers. The reason for this is the existing cables that cable companies use to build cost-efficient internet networks. However, fiber networks usually require companies to start from scratch.
As we have mentioned in the previous article, Jio Platforms has recently signed a joint venture to explore the satellite internet space. Currently, two leading telecom operators in India have entered satellite internet services. Other tech giants like Bharti Airtel’s OneWeb and Elon Musk’s Starlink are also part of the new satellite internet space.
Cable internet v/s satellite internet: Internet speed
Cable internet is much faster than satellite internet. However, satellite internet speeds are fast enough for most everyday uses, but there’s a catch: latency. Satellite internet isn’t capable of offering lower latency compared to cable or fiber connections, as the signal travels a longer distance. This causes a slight delay between giving a command and getting the output.
However, this delay is not a major issue for everyday use, but it can be a major setback for online gaming. The delay between action and result can be the difference between victory and defeat in fast-paced, competitive games.
On the other hand, cable internet can offer speeds up to 2,000 Mbps. In some cases, the minimum speeds from a cable provider can be higher than the speed of satellite internet connections. Presently, coaxial cables can transmit data much faster than a satellite.
Cable internet v/s satellite internet: Installation
Satellite internet connections include professional installation with the service. Technicians handle the installation of everything — starting from the dish to your modem. But for cable installation, either you can pay a professional or you can do it yourself. Self-installation is usually very simple as the installation kits come with detailed instructions and all the equipment is available online.
Cable internet v/s satellite internet: Affordability
Cable internet is much more affordable than satellite internet, users can also bundle it with their TV packages. But, you can get a satellite signal as long as you’ve got a clear view of the sky. This is the convenience that makes satellite internet expensive. Whereas, in some areas, cable internet offers download speeds similar to fiber internet.
So, satellite internet can be an option for people, who live in areas that don’t have any other high-speed internet options. But the biggest drawback for cable internet is that packages, providers and prices are not standardised and may vary across the country.





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