Why fibre is still better than satellite internet

Fibre has long reigned supreme in the world of connectivity, providing high-speed internet at a low cost. Many consumers are wondering if the likes of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet will be a better alternative than fibre optics. There is no apparent winner in this battle because both have their own strengths and unique advantages in the communications arena.

Glass-like strands are used to deliver fibre internet. Light pulses move through these optic cables, transferring data around the world in an instant. Massive quantities of data can be transmitted at the speed of light, giving users more bandwidth and flexibility. Fibre is described as a “future-proof” solution that will be the primary connectivity solution for many years to come.

Satellite internet, on the other hand, transmits data via radio waves from orbiting satellites to base stations on the ground. Starlink claims to match fibre internet speeds (up to one gigabit per second), however this has yet to be proven. Here’s how the two types of internet access stack up against each other.

Signal reliability

Fibre is extremely reliable as it is not affected by magnetic interference or inclement weather. Since the fibre cables are buried underground, they are relatively immune to disruptions and damage.

Satellite internet is less reliable as radio signals can be disrupted by bad weather and obstructions, such as trees, buildings and clouds. There is a slight delay in transmission because the radio signals travel vast distances from ground stations, out into orbit and back to the ground.

Service availability

Fibre optic cables are quite expensive to install, which is why many rural areas and small towns may lack the necessary infrastructure. The overall rollout of fibre, on the other hand, is advancing rapidly. Every year, a growing number of cities around the world are connected to the network of cables and data centres.

In remote areas, satellite internet is more readily available and often the sole choice for connectivity. To receive radio signals, all that is required in these areas is a clear view of the sky, a terminal and a power source.

Cost of connectivity

Given the lightning-fast connectivity speeds and massive bandwidth available to users, fibre internet is a cost-effective solution. The fees vary based on the internet service provider (ISP) and fibre network operator (FNO) that control the cables.

Satellite internet can be more expensive because of the initial set-up fee. The monthly subscription fees per megabit of data are also often higher. When compared to other connectivity choices, satellite internet tends to be more expensive for the speeds and bandwidth provided to the customer.

Access speeds

As infrastructure is upgraded, fibre internet speeds are continuously improving. The speed of satellite internet is also getting better too. Currently, the average satellite connection offers roughly 100Mbps, which isn’t quite as fast as fibre but sufficient for most home requirements.

Choosing between fibre and satellite internet

Both fibre and satellite have their advantages. People who live and work in urban areas and city centres should opt for a fibre bundle. Those who live in remote rural areas, on the other hand, may be better suited using satellite internet.

The preceding comparisons will assist you in making an informed decision about which option will best meet your requirements. Fibre is ultimately the more well-rounded solution for connectivity due to its present speed, cost, reliability and availability. Satellite internet will, of course, improve over time, but so too will fibre optics.


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Written by Taryn Hill

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