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The Technology Behind Satellite Internet

You must admit, the world would be entirely different without the Internet. No smartphones, Google searches that will solve our problems, no social media platforms for chatting with friends – nothing. However, you can rest assured that the Internet is not going anywhere. The basic way that most Internet connections work is quite simple to understand. The ISP which is usually known as the Internet service provider receives a signal by cable/fiber from the data server, it then transfers that signal to the main station/hub, and it then distributes it to routers of its users.

The steps which are not complicated to achieve are the ones where you get the signal and the one that moves it to the main station or hub, however, the third one which is distributing the wave to the modems can be a little bit complicated. That last step is commonly referred to as “the last mile”. And a lot of houses which do not have a proper Internet connection, it is that last mile or a lot of them from the central servers that make all the difference in how well their connection functions.

When setting up a fiber or cable Internet, a technician will be required to visit the location, set up cables in each of them, and then connect them to the main IS provider. Most houses are already entirely wired, so it is easy to connect an entire neighborhood to the servers. However, things get a little bit tricky if your house is in a remote location where it is cheaper for the ISP to provide you with shorter runs from your house to the station – this is mostly due to the fact that it is a simpler process for the company.

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If your household wants to opt for a fiber/cable connection, the ISP might not be able to establish a connection for or to your house. And, if users opt for a DSL connection from their telephone company, they could be able to establish the connection, however, the more distance there is between you and the closest provider’s station, the more will your connection will be worse.

That is one of the most common reasons why people choose to implement satellite Internet to their homes since it is the best way for getting a connection for people that are living in remote areas. Satellite service providers, such as HughesNet Internet, act similarly to the ways mentioned earlier in the article, but your home will not be connected to the nearest or local station/hub. Instead, you will receive the signal by a cable coming from a big antenna (referred to as an “earth station”) located on Earth, which then disperses it by using waves to the said satellite.

As you might have guessed, in this case, it works as the local office/hub/station, and the “last mile” mentioned earlier is closer to 22.000 miles, which is the height at which the satellite orbits. The wave that is returned to the house or workplace is seized by the dish located on the outside of your house. From that point, the signal will move through a fiber that is attached to your house’s router, just like any Internet connection would.

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The one thing people think is that they can use the same antenna that they bought for their satellite TV. And, although it is a pretty legit statement, there is no way of achieving this. You cannot use that one because the signal only goes in a single direction for your television – this is done by the satellite sending video signals to your house, but, the signal does not return. In order for your satellite Internet to work, the waves need to go in both direction and since they do not work like video signals, it needs more bandwidth to move all the data, hence, you will need a separate antenna.

This situation also opens up a fun fact about how Internet signals are delivered with a satellite. Did you know that most satellites can send video broadcasts in a single direction which can cover a whole continent if needed? Although that is true for your satellite television, doing this for distributing an Internet connection would be an enormous waste of the said bandwidth.

For example, think about the radio station in your car, let’s say you are listening to 91.7. If you are 40 to 50 kilometers from the radio tower, you can listen to a local rock station. However, once you cross state lines, that station that played rock songs at 91.7 might become a pop one since the distance permits you to use that part of the radio spectrum again.

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The space station will get a Ka-band of the radio range close to 30 GHz and they will broadcast close to 20 GHz, this is when a signal named spot beams is released. These target certain areas on the ground and they all extended over one another. Hence, if we are using the same range for this, how does it actually function?

To put it simply, this is achieved by breaking down the bands by using several polarizations. If this confuses you, just think about it as being differently colored. With one spot beam, the space station can use several colors to broadcast the wave, meaning that it reuses the same part of the spectrum. And as the satellite power was increased in recent years, ISPs also had to change up the situation on the Earth.

Just as companies add more telephone towers to provide better cover for all our smartphones, more earth stations are developed for creating an improved network for Internet service. Also, moving the processes to various cloud platforms has allowed companies to make smaller, cheaper stations that can work just as well.


As you can see, it is not that difficult to understand the tech behind the satellite Internet. It works in the same principle as any other Internet connection, but it allows people living in remote areas to have a stable connection at all time. Hence, if you are in need of a good, stable Internet connection, do not waste any more time and start searching for a provider right away.

Peter is a freelance writer with more than eight years of experience covering topics in politics. He was one of the guys that were here when the started.