Satellite Internet vs. Dial-Up Internet

Chyelle Dvorak
Apr 24, 2023
Icon Time To Read3 min read

There’s a ton of different types of internet out there: dial-up internet, cable internet, satellite internet, DSL internet, high-speed internet, extremely slow speed internet … You get the point.

Out of all the different kinds of internet services, packages, and breeds available, satellite internet is extremely common along with cable internet. But what about dial-up internet? How does it compare to satellite internet? What are the pros and cons?

You’re in luck. Here’s a quick description of both satellite and dial-up internet. Without further ado, let’s jump in.

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Take a peek at dial-up and satellite ISPs available near you.

What is dial-up internet, and how does it work?

Dial-up internet uses the signal from an existing phone line to communicate data (or give you access to the internet). Even if you haven’t heard of dial-up internet before, it’s been around for quite some time. Chances are, as long as you have access to a phone line, you’d be able to access dial-up internet.

So why use dial-up internet? We’re glad you asked. Dial-up internet runs considerably less expensive than other internet services, such as satellite internet. While cable internet can easily cost anywhere between $40 and $60 bucks a month, dial-up internet costs about $5 or $10 dollars a month. It’s by far the cheapest kind of internet available.

While this alone might spike your interest and make you want to use a dial-up internet plan, there are a few things you should know first. There are some trade-offs. Dial-up is one of the slowest kinds of internet you can use. We’re talking roughly 56 Kbps.

Now, if all you’re interested in doing online is browsing a couple websites on the weekend or sending a few emails to the grandkids, you probably won’t even notice the internet is slow. But if you need to use Zoom, watch videos, access lots of websites, you’ll start to notice your internet is lagging.

Dial-up internet is a great money-saver and an excellent way to just access the basics when it comes to the virtual world. If that’s all you want in an internet service, then dial-up might be perfect for you.

What is satellite internet, and how does it work?

Satellite internet is very common in households where multiple people need to access the web. It works by using three main wireless connections: the signal connects from your property, to a satellite in space, and finally to an internet service provider (ISP). Viasat, Hughesnet, and Starlink are just a few popular satellite internet providers.

Whenever you make a request on your computer (let’s say, by clicking on a link to a website), the signal is sent to a satellite until it reaches your ISP, which then sends the response back to you. All of this happens in a fraction of a second, leaving you with a strong internet connection and the ability to play video games, stream Netflix, and use Zoom.

On average, satellite internet costs anywhere between $30 and $200 depending on the provider, the speed, and the data cap. While satellite internet isn’t as fast as something like cable or DSL internet, it is reliable and meets a lot of people’s internet needs.

Which works better: satellite internet or dial-up internet?

There really isn’t much debate when it comes to which is better. Between satellite internet and dial-up internet, satellite is definitely faster. However, in this case, faster does mean pricier. Most satellite internet speeds reach up to 100 Mbps, which is around 10 times faster than dial-up internet.

Dial-up internet isn’t as fast and doesn’t support as many functions (like watching lots of videos, supporting multiple users, or gaming), but it’s way cheaper than satellite internet and still provides an internet connection.

What are the best satellite internet providers?

If you’re interested in satellite internet and want to look at some of the best providers, here’s an excellent resource. Viasat and Hughesnet are your only options currently, but Starlink is just around the corner.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet satellite internet overview
Provider
Monthly price
Download speeds
Data cap
Learn more
Viasat Internet$69.99-$299.99*12-100 MbpsUnlimited
Hughesnet Internet$49.99-$79.9950-100 Mbps50–100 Mbps
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Offer available to new qualifying customers. One-time standard installation fee may be due at checkout. Minimum 24-month service term required. Equipment lease fee is $12.99/mo. Taxes apply. Service is not available in all areas. Offer may be changed or withdrawn at any time.
Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Pricing not available in all areas.

What are the best dial-up internet providers?

If you think dial-up internet is right for you, then there’s still plenty of dial-up internet providers around. NetZero is one of the biggest. PeoplePC, EarthLink, and AOL Dial-Up are also common. (Yep, that’s the same AOL that’s always existed.)

FAQs

Dial-up speeds are definitely slower than modern internet connection types, reported to be around 56 kilobits (or 0.056 Mbps) per second.

Dial-up internet began being sold commercially in the US and UK in 1992.

Yes, you can still get dial-up internet service if you have a phone line and the right equipment. While it's certainly not as popular as a fiber or DSL internet connection today, dial-up could be a reliable (if slow) service for those in rural areas.

Now that you know more about the best ISPs in the US, check these out next.
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Enter your zip code to find satellite and dial-up internet near you.
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Find out more about rural internet choices.

Chyelle Dvorak
Written by
Chyelle Dvorak
Chyelle works as a freelance writer for The Daily Beast and edited articles for Forbes, Inc.com, Fox News and other review sites. Chyelle tests, writes, and researches products and services related to internet consumption. She found her passion for public speaking and writing in her childhood when she won the Voice of Democracy speech and essay competition. Chyelle has a degree in International Relations from Crown College, Minnesota. Outside of work, Chyelle loves to spend time reading, kayaking, and running.

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