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How to compare and buy satellite broadband

How do I compare different packages?

Satellite broadband uses different technology to regular broadband, but the process of comparing deals is pretty similar. The table above shows you some of the best value services on the market and allows you to compare them by speed and usage allowance plus upfront and monthly cost.

Availability

Widespread availability is the main draw of satellite broadband. If you can have a receiver installed on your property, you can get satellite broadband, no matter how remote your location. This means that all customers have the pick of all providers and you don’t need to worry about checking availability in your area.

Check the detail

Satellite broadband requires specialist equipment, which presents an upfront cost and higher monthly fee than standard broadband. You have the choice to rent, buy or rent-to-own the equipment. Providers offer different payment options to help with the cost so you’ll need to work out if you’d rather pay more outright in return for a lower monthly charge, or vice versa. Also note the cancellation policy and related charges of any plans you like, should you want to leave before the end of the deal.

Why choose satellite broadband?

Satellite broadband is a welcome solution for rural residents who battle sluggish and unreliable broadband due to living so far from the closest exchange. Many countryside locations are not included in providers’ fibre broadband rollout plans, so satellite is the only solution to get your home internet up to speed.

There’s a choice of speeds and data limits

Just like fixed-line broadband, there’s a choice of download speeds and monthly usage allowances to suit your household’s internet habits. The top speed is 22Mbps, which will feel amazingly fast to those who normally struggle to nudge over 1Mbps for online activities, which many people take for granted.

It doesn’t require a phone line

Since this type of broadband is delivered via satellite instead of through fibre optic cables or telephone lines, you can benefit from broadband without line rental. This is increasingly appealing as more people rely on mobiles and home phones get less and less use.

And can be taken on a one-month contract

Satellite broadband is available on a choice of contract lengths, depending on how much you want to pay upfront and month-to-month. There’s also the option to pay as you go, ideal for very light users or second properties like holiday homes.

And you can rent or buy the equipment

Satellite broadband has a reputation for being expensive and it certainly can be if you decide to buy the equipment upfront. However, it is possible to rent the equipment, or even rent-to-own it, to help cut and spread the cost over several months.

Pros & cons

Pros

  • Widely available
  • Fast speeds for those unable to get fibre
  • Choice of contracts, payments, speeds, data

Cons

  • It can be expensive with high set-up fees
  • High latency is unsuitable for real-time activities
  • Installation required at your property

Who provides satellite broadband?

A handful of satellite broadband providers cover the UK and Europe and the market is steadily growing. Europasat is one of the main satellite internet service providers and it works with reseller networks to deliver broadband to homes and businesses.

Tooway

Tooway broadband offers two download speeds, 5Mbps and 22Mbps, with a choice of monthly usage allowances ranging from 2GB to unlimited. If you opt to buy the equipment outright, expect a hefty upfront fee but a reasonable monthly rate on a one-month rolling contract. Opting to rent the equipment makes it more affordable upfront and you can choose between free set-up and higher monthly fee or pay a set-up fee in return for a reduced monthly rate.

Which package is right for me?

There’s a satellite broadband service for every type of user and here’s what you need to consider before you can choose your ideal package.

Consider what speed you need

Satellite broadband is available with a choice of broadband speeds and you’ll need to pick the right one for your family to avoid committing to a service that is too slow, or paying for more speed that you need. Do a speed test to see what you get from your current broadband service, and then you can figure out what speed upgrade you’ll need to see a difference.

And what you use the internet for

How often your household uses the internet and for what type of activity will determine which level of usage you should go for. A small household of fairly light users will find around 10GB to 20GB ample, whereas an internet-savvy family with teenagers who love games and movies will benefit from 100GB or unlimited.

And how much you can afford to pay upfront

The former considerations will help to narrow down the options for the perfect package, but budget has a big part to play too, since satellite broadband doesn’t come cheap and costs more than comparable fixed-line broadband deals. Consider how much you can afford to pay upfront as you’re looking at over £300 to buy the satellite equipment outright, plus potential set-up fees and the monthly broadband charge.

What will I need?

Check if you need planning permission

The installation of satellite equipment at your property may require planning permission if you live in a protected historical building, but it’s not generally required for everyone else. If you live in a rented property, get permission from your landlord or management company before signing up.

Choose an installation method

Self-installation can help you save on set-up costs and each provider has a step-by-step video, but they issue the caveat that you must be good at DIY to attempt it. If you’re in any doubt of your ability with a toolkit, opt for professional installation from a certified professional.

Decide if you need a substitute home phone service

Satellite broadband doesn’t require an active phone line, which is great if you don’t need one either, but if you don’t want to rely on your mobile all the time, consider alternative options. You could sign up to a phone service from the likes of BT, or use a Voice-over-Internet-Protocol service like Skype or Vonage where you can either subscribe to a call package or pay as you go.

Six essential questions before you buy

  1. Is satellite broadband the only option to improve my speed?
  2. What level of speed does my household need?
  3. How much data do we need each month?
  4. What is our upfront and monthly budget?
  5. Do we need planning permission for the equipment?
  6. Do we need professional installation?

Cable.co.uk recommends

The expensive set-up fees and high monthly cost compared to fixed-line broadband make satellite broadband a last resort and only worthwhile if you’re struggling with slow ADSL broadband and can’t get fibre. But if you are looking for a rural broadband solution, satellite broadband is worth considering, and there are lots of options to choose from. Think about your internet habits and budget, and pick a deal to match.