Is Fixed 4G LTE Internet or Satellite Internet Better for Video?
By: Stephen Kota
In rural areas without access to wired internet options like cable, fixed wireless internet and satellite internet are often the only two choices. When it comes to online video, these two types of internet connection offer very different user experiences. Let’s take a closer look at how fixed wireless internet and satellite internet compare when it comes to video experience.
Fixed wireless internet vs. satellite internet speeds
To watch standard definition (480p) video, you need an internet connection with a download speed of at least 3 Mbps. To watch high definition (720p or 1040p) video, you need a download speed of at least 5 Mbps. And to watch 4K video, you need a download speed of 25 Mbps.
You’ll be able to watch most videos on fixed wireless internet, even if you live in a rural area with less than optimal coverage. In urban areas, 5G has an average download speed of up to 250 Mbps and 4G LTE has an average download speed of more than 30 Mbps. In rural areas, 5G has an average download speed of up to 34 Mbps on 600 MHz 5G and 20 Mbps on 4G LTE.
It’s more complicated with satellite internet. While satellite has a download speed of up to 25 Mbps, the user experience of watching video on a satellite connection is often very poor due to the
connection’s high latency. A connection’s latency or “ping” is the time in milliseconds it takes for your local network to connect to the internet host and start exchanging online data. While mobile data has an average latency of around 35 milliseconds, satellite internet has an average latency of around 600 milliseconds. When your internet connection has a lower latency, it can process incoming online data packets more quickly for a smoother video experience. With a higher latency, you’ll experience more lags and buffers on your videos.
Fixed wireless internet vs. satellite internet data limits
Video uses a lot of bandwidth. If you’re watching standard definition video, you’ll use about 700 MB of internet data per hour. If you’re watching high definition video, you’ll use 3 GB per hour. And if you’re watching 4K video, you’ll use 7 GB per hour. These numbers make most plans with data limits impractical if you’re planning on watching a lot of video on your connection.
While there are unlimited data plans available for both fixed mobile broadband and satellite internet, many satellite internet plans have complicated “fair use” policies that throttle internet speeds after only a few hours of watching video. Most satellite networks have lower capacities than 5G or 4G LTE, so they control data use more tightly to prevent network congestion.
Get fixed wireless internet for your rural home
If you plan on watching a lot of video, fixed wireless internet is a better option than satellite internet for rural areas without access to wired internet connections. Find out more about 5G and 4G LTE options in your area by starting a chat or giving us a call at (866) 439-6630.