If you’re a city dweller, you might be wondering why someone who lives in the United States of America in the 21st century is writing about how to find high speed internet service. But if you live in a rural area, you might be down on your knees right now, hoping that this time, you’ve found the answer!
In a blog I wrote back in March of 2020 about internet speed and options for working from home, I mentioned the options of fiber, cable and DSL service as the front runners. But if you live in a rural area, satellite internet service had been the only option.
In order to use video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, WebEx, Adobe Connect, Microsoft Teams, Skype and so on, your internet needs the following minimum speeds:
Upload: 2.0 Mbps
Download: 2.0 Mbps
Ping: 100 or less
The keyword is “minimum.” If you want a high-quality video call without constant buffering, stuttering, and freezing, you really need faster speeds than this – closer to 5 Mbps for upload and download speeds. If you don’t want a delay – as in waiting 5-10 seconds for someone’s voice to catch up with their moving lips – your latency (the PING number) really should be less than 75 and ideally below 50.
When satellite is your only option, the latency will be your issue. My HughesNet latency averaged 700. That is not a typo. Seven hundred. I dialed in through a landline for the audio portion of my Zoom calls, and my voice still ran several seconds behind my moving lips. I came very close to losing a client contract because of the satellite latency issues until I was introduced to fixed wireless internet.
Fixed Wireless Internet
I don’t know how correct the following background story is, but I was told that fixed wireless internet was originally developed for the military and the RV (recreational vehicle) community because they needed communications out in the middle of nowhere. This technology (supposedly) eventually evolved into fixed wireless internet.
An antenna is mounted on the outside of your house or office building and pointed toward the nearest tower. There are two types of antennas: omni-directional and mono-directional. In theory, the omni-directional should be better because it picks up signals from any direction, but that theory didn’t work for us. After a few months of increasingly annoying slowdowns, we switched to a mono-directional antenna. So far, so good. Our upload and download speeds are consistently around the 7-10 range, sometimes reaching as high as 25. More importantly, our Ping is almost always below 50.
Currently, fixed wireless internet service is not cheap. It runs around $200 per month. That’s just for internet and is not bundled with any other service.
A Better Satellite Option?
If you can’t get fixed wireless internet in your area, or if you’re searching for an even better option, you might not have to wait that much longer. Elon Musk (yes, that Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX) developed a satellite internet company called Starlink. He’s been using SpaceX to launch his satellites into the sky. What will set his satellites apart from all of the other satellite internet companies is that 1) he’ll have 10,000 of them floating around up there versus a handful that the other companies operate, and 2) Starlink satellites will orbit at only 340 miles above the earth instead of 20,000 miles like the others.
And therein lies the problem. Environmentalists and astronomers have been up in arms about having 10,000 satellites clog up the sky and change our night sky forever. Starlink says it’s worked with engineers to address all environmental concerns. If you cringe at the idea of additional “space junk” up there and worry about what will happen to our sky, jumping on board with SpaceX will be a tough decision for you. Especially when you find out that their speeds will be smokin’ fast, latency won’t be an issue, and they plan to charge only $99 per month. Stay tuned. They’re in beta testing now, with plans to roll out on a wider scale at the end of 2021.
Until then, if you don’t have cable, fiber, or DSL internet service providers in your area, fixed wireless internet is your best option over satellite internet.
For a complete and easy-to-follow guide to improving your time management, be sure to check out The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer.