How Does Satellite Internet Operate?


Quick Answer

Satellite Internet services use a dish similar to satellite television services, but a satellite Internet dish contains a broadcast element as well as a receiving element. The dish broadcasts requests from the user's PC, which the satellite bounces to a terrestrial station and into the global Internet. When the response comes back, the data is uploaded to the satellite and downloaded to the user's system via the dish.

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Full Answer

Satellite systems are often the only way to get high-speed Internet access in rural areas, which are far away from telephone company central hubs or cable providers. These connections often have a much slower uplink speed due to the relatively limited broadcast strength, and they tend to have a high latency due to the time required to relay the signal to orbit and back for every packet. The high orbit required for geostationary satellites adds to this latency, and while some services may use satellites in lower orbits to improve speeds, this can negatively affect coverage.

Before the widespread adoption of two-way satellite service, these connections frequently used a satellite dish for downstream data and a conventional modem to transmit requests into the Internet. Commands would flow through a normal phone line, but the response would be routed through the satellite for higher speeds.

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