Cable Internet vs. Satellite Internet: What You Should Know

When looking for high-speed internet for your home, you have two main choices depending on where you live- cable internet vs. satellite internet. 

These are not the only or best options you have, but like cable and satellite TV, they are still popular for a reason.

Let’s learn more about each to make a more informed decision.

Table of Contents

What is Cable Internet?

Cable internet, a coaxial cable network, uses the same underground infrastructure as cable TV. The service provider sends the signal via copper wires directly to your home, connecting to your modem or wireless router, giving you reliable WIFI.

It is not to be confused with fiber internet, which uses the same infrastructure but through fiber optic cables instead of copper cables.

What is Satellite Internet?

On the other hand, satellite internet refers to a type of internet service that provides connectivity through a satellite.

Data is transmitted between your device and the satellite via a satellite dish mounted on your home or office. Satellite internet is available everywhere, so location or infrastructure is not a limiting factor.

Holding internet cables

The Pros and Cons of Cable Internet vs. Satellite Internet

Cable Internet


  • Easy installation. Installing cable internet is easy and fast, especially if you have cable TV already.
  • Fast and reliable. Cable internet achieves a speed of up to 2500 Mbps, and it’s still faster than satellite, even at minimum speed.
  • The internet is also reliable for any heavy streaming or gaming, and it’s not affected by outside factors like weather.
  • Cheaper price. Cable is one of the most affordable internet options at only $30 per month, especially considering its speed and reliability.
  •  Low latency
  •  Cheap TV and phone bundling option


  • Cable internet may not be available in rural areas because of a lack of infrastructure.
  • Sharing bandwidth with your neighbors can affect the speed during peak hours.
  •  Copper cables are prone to deterioration with time.
Satellite internet receivers

Satellite internet receivers

Satellite Internet


  •  100% availability. Because it does not rely on infrastructure, satellite internet is available everywhere and may be the only fast internet in some areas.
  • Speed is not affected by population. Every user receives their signal, so other users will not affect your internet speed even at peak hours.
  •   It works even when there is no power.


  • It’s slower than cable, DSL, or fiber networks.
  • Satellite internet can be costly in some areas at $150-$200 per month
  • You must invest in a satellite dish and keep it on your property.
  • The network is very vulnerable to weather changes and obstruction.
  •  Data caps and lagging can be irritating.

Key Differences between Cable and Satellite Internet

To understand each of these internet services better, let’s compare some critical features;

Internet speed

Internet speed

Internet Speed

Cable internet is significantly faster than satellite internet. It provides a running speed of 2000 Mbps and a download speed of 20-100 Mbps or faster.

On the other hand, satellite internet can only manage 1-15 Mbps download speed, which is still lower than the slowest cable internet. In many cases, this speed is not sufficient for high-demand usage like gaming.

Sharing bandwidth with others affects cable internet, especially during peak hours.

The download speed can decline and cause data processing delays if you are streaming or playing live games.

However, this is not something you would notice when browsing or watching a service like YouTube.


Looking for an internet service, you can move from one place to another? Cable internet is not the one. Because of the wiring, it can only be available in your home.

However, some service providers like Xfinity allow customers to access hotspots in select locations for an extra fee.

Some satellite internet services, however, are portable; you can take the modem anywhere. It is what RV campers and adventurers use on the go.

Network cables

Network cables


While the cost, speed, and reliability of cable internet are great, it has one major drawback-availability.

Homeowners can only rely on satellite internet in areas without cable infrastructure, thanks to its universal availability.

Satellite internet is also the best option for campers, off-grid homeowners, and people who travel on boats regularly.

As you travel farther and farther away from urban facilities, satellite internet becomes the only option, especially because you are bound to lose cellphone reception.

In such a case, users double-bill their mobile phones as a hotspot to retain connectivity while away.

The cost may be a tad expensive, but at least you can access the outside world.


Generally, cable internet is more reliable because the signal is sent directly to your home via underground cables.

While they are not 100% full-proof, cables are much more reliable than satellite signals, which can be interrupted by anything from wind to an airplane passing.

Satellite internet also requires a clear line of sight to the southern sky to work perfectly.

The signal will likely get lost if there is a blockage from a building, mountain, trees, or bad weather.

Of course, the reliability of your cable internet depends on your service provider. If your cable TV suffers frequent interruptions, your internet will as well.

Do your due diligence to find a reputable and reliable service provider for cable internet.

Satellite internet installation

Satellite internet installation


When it comes to installation, cable internet wins again. You can pay a technician to help you with the connections, but most people can handle this process without help.

Cable internet comes with an installation kit with detailed instructions on what to do and the equipment.

On the other hand, you need a professional to install a satellite network on your premises. They will handle everything from the dish outside to the router in your house because finding the signal is complicated. It is why satellite installation gets costly.

Internet Service Providers

The availability of internet service providers depends on your location.

For instance, most urban users don’t know about satellite internet providers, but they are quite popular in rural areas. However, most urban and semi-urban areas have many cable service providers.

It is primarily because cable infrastructure is already laid out and easy to tap into.

The biggest provider in the U.S. has to be Xfinity which boasts outstanding internet speed, followed by Spectrum, Cox Communication, Optimum, Wow, and Mediacom Cable.

The cost of running a satellite internet network is high, so the providers are fewer. Viasat is the biggest name in this niche, followed by HughesNet and Elon Musk’s Starlink.

Paying for an internet connection

Paying for an internet connection


Lastly, and this is a big one, is cost. Cable internet takes this one again because installing and sustaining is much cheaper. According to Forbes Home, basic cable internet costs around $36 monthly.

Xfinity, for example, will charge you $49/month, while a company like Cox has plans starting from $19.99.

In contrast, satellite internet comes with a monthly bill of $110 for a basic plan. The ongoing cost of using satellite service is very high and is bound to increase.


Do satellite internet providers throttle bandwidth like cable providers?

During peak hours, cable networks tend to curb bandwidths, but satellite internet providers de-prioritize users beyond their cab limit. Those below the limit are served first, while the rest wait a little longer.

How long do satellite and cable internet services take to install and activate?

Both services take 2-3 hours to install from scratch and activate. Cable internet can take longer if you already have cable TV at home. The cable installation period also depends on whether it’s a professional doing it or it’s DIY.


The cable internet vs. satellite internet winner is clear. Cable Internet provides high-speed, reliable, affordable Internet and can often be bundled with your TV and phone.

But if you live far from urban centers, satellite internet is a great option, provided you choose a reputable service provider.

Your location primarily determines which service is best for you, even though cable internet is the better option overall.