Fixed wireless internet is different from more common connections like DSL and fiber. Instead of using a cable, it brings the internet signal to your home via radio waves transmitted by a base station.

When you opt for fixed wireless internet, your provider will install a receiver on your house. It will communicate with the nearest wireless base station and offer you access to the web via a cable carrying the broadband signal from the receiver to the router in your house.

Fixed wireless internet is mainly used in rural areas where setting up the infrastructure for broadband services like DSL is prohibitively expensive. Transporting and burying cables in the ground and getting the necessary permits can be expensive. So it doesn’t make financial sense for service providers to go down this road in less populated areas, where they can’t get enough subscribers on board to justify the total costs.

Pros and cons of fixed wireless internet

Picture of one of Gogo's internet towers

As with everything in life, fixed wireless internet has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s talk about the advantages first.

  • It’s easier to set up the equipment needed for fixed wireless internet than it is for other broadband services, because it doesn’t require physical cables or the hassle they entail.
  • Unlike traditional cellular services, fixed wireless internet usually has either very high caps (100GB or more) or no caps at all. Additionally, the technology offers high download speeds that are just as fast if not faster than those you get from other broadband services.

Of course, there are also some downsides:

  • The problem with fixed wireless internet is that the connection isn’t always stable. Rain, fog, and other weather conditions can affect its strength.
  • There also has to be a line of sight between the receiver on your house and the wireless base station. Obstructions such as trees and hills can affect the quality of the service and can even prevent it from being set up.
  • Then there’s also the price: fixed wireless internet is usually more expensive than other forms of broadband.

Fixed wireless vs satellite internet

Satellite internet is another option for those living in areas where fixed broadband services are not available. Although it also requires a dish and provides you with high-speed internet access without using a phone or cable line, satellite is different from fixed wireless in many ways.

Read Next: Best Internet providers in the US

Weather conditions affect satellite internet more than they do fixed wireless. The signal has to travel through the entire atmosphere and back. That means a storm in the next state can cause problems. A base station used for fixed wireless internet is about as tall as an average cell phone tower. It’s usually located within 10 miles of your house, so the clouds above it and the storm that’s miles away won’t interfere with the signal it’s transmitting.

And let’s not forget about lag. Because the satellite is positioned much farther from the receiver on your house than the wireless base station, satellite internet suffers from high latency. This can make even a high-speed connection sluggish and has a big impact on things like online gaming and streaming video.

Satellite internet providers also enforce data caps.

Satellite internet providers also set data caps, limiting the amount of data you can use on a monthly basis. If you’re online frequently and watch a lot of videos, this is a big problem. While it’s true that most options now offer unlimited data, there’s usually only a small cap on high-speed data before it is reduced down to speeds of around 1-3 Mbps.

One of the most important differences between the two services is the price. Despite its disadvantages, satellite internet is still more expensive than fixed wireless. So when you take all these things into account, it’s clear that the latter is the better choice. Essentially satellite is the last ditch option for when you can’t get wired broadband or fixed wireless in your area.

Thinking of opting for fixed wireless internet? If so, you’ll be happy to hear that there are many providers to choose from in the U.S. We suggest you visit a website like BroadbandNow, where you can search for those offering the service in your area.