Satellite Internet: Fast Enough for All Your Streaming Needs

Kids streaming with Hughesnet satellite internet

What is the best satellite internet for streaming videos? The answer is Hughesnet—in part because our download speeds make streaming possible. Here, we will explore the pros and cons of satellite internet for streaming, factors determining how smoothly your video streams and some tips and tricks to improve your streaming experience.    

Understanding Satellite Internet

First off, let us take a look at what satellite internet providers will provide and how satellite internet differs from cable internet and fiber optic internet. You may have heard of the “digital divide,” referring to how urban centers have better access to internet providers than the rural community. 

The digital divide exists because of two factors. First, urban areas are the most densely populated parts of the US; therefore, internet service providers have access to many potential customers in a relatively small area. Second, the area comes with much of the infrastructure for internet access already in place—cable, phone lines, and, most recently, 5G towers. From a business perspective, cities are simply more profitable than rural areas if you are a typical internet service provider. 

Hughesnet is designed for rural America where cable and fiber internet are not available. We believe everyone should have access to reliable high-speed internet. 

Satellite Internet Basics

Hughesnet provides internet services by bouncing signals off our fleet of satellites. We connect a user’s modem to a satellite dish, which sends signals to our communication satellites. The satellite redirects the signal to a ground station, which connects to the internet to deliver and return data. Despite the distances involved, the entire process typically takes milliseconds.  

Want more information on satellite internet? Check out our Beginner's Guide to Satellite Internet Terminology


The Importance of Internet Speed for Streaming

You may have heard that satellite internet is susceptible to latency, which describes delays in the transmission and reception of internet data. Satellite internet is not as fast as fiber optic internet, and some latency is expected given the fact our satellites orbit about 22,000 miles above the earth. So, is satellite internet good for streaming? The answer is yes, absolutely!


Streaming Requirements

How much data does streaming TV use? Streaming requires 3 to 4 Mbps (megabits per second) if you want to stream standard-definition (SD) video. For high definition (HD) streaming, you need between 3 to 5 Mbps; 4K Ultra HD video requires 15 Mbps.  

Factors Affecting Streaming Quality

Depending on your location and time of day, several factors can impact your streaming quality. The most common are latency and data caps.

Latency refers to the amount of time it takes for a packet of data to make it from point A to point B—in other words, from your device to the streaming service. Even a 44,000-mile round trip, satellite internet latency is measured in milliseconds, which typically will not interfere with your streaming enjoyment. 

Data caps may also impact your streaming. A data cap refers to the amount of data your plan allows you to send and receive monthly. If you exceed this amount, the Internet Service Provider either charges you for additional data or “throttles'' your service, slowing down your internet speed. Hughesnet offers unlimited data; therefore, you never need to worry about additional charges. 


Satellite Internet Speeds

How fast is the satellite internet?  Hughesnet Internet plans offer download speeds up to 100 Mbps.

Realistic Speed Expectations

Multiple factors, including time of day, cloud coverage, and weather can impact satellite internet speed. Realistically, expect your internet speed to be slightly lower than the advertised top speed. 

Streaming with Satellite Internet

As previously mentioned, streaming videos requires 3 to 15 Mbps, depending on whether you are viewing SD, HD, or 4K/Ultra—which suggests that satellite internet is well-suited for streaming. That said, the higher your speed, the more consistent your streaming experience. Speeds of 3 to 15 Mbps allow for uninterrupted streaming, but you may experience short delays if you choose to jump further ahead in the video. 

Tips for Smooth Streaming

  • Choose an internet plan with unlimited data 
  • Be aware internet speeds may drop during peak usage hours
  • Ensure your satellite dish has a clear view of the southern sky
  • Move physical obstructions, such as fallen branches and snow from the satellite dish’s view of the sky
  • Check your satellite dish for signs of damage or misalignment after storms or high winds
  • Limit the number of devices connected to the internet while streaming
  • Keep your modem and router hardware and software updated

Case Studies and User Experiences

At Hughesnet, we believe our satellite internet is the best in the business but do not take our word for it. Go to our Reviews page to see how our user experiences match up to our claims. 

Looking for the best satellite internet plans in your area? Check out Hughesnet. We take pride in connecting rural areas in the US. so everyone can enjoy and benefit from the internet. 

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