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How to Make Satellite Internet Faster
Speeding up your satellite internet connection can be broken into two sets of troubleshooting tips: adjusting your satellite dish and optimizing your modem and router.
Of course, there’s more to it than that—you may even want to check for alternative internet options if your satellite internet service makes you want to flip your desk.
But hey, before you turn that desk’s world upside down, check out our tips on how to make sure your satellite receiver is in good shape, how to get your modem and router in working order, and how to get the most out of a satellite internet Wi-Fi connection. Let’s get to it!
Check for alternatives
If you’re on satellite internet, you’ve probably lived through all the woes that come with it. Sure, satellite internet might be your only rural internet option, but that doesn’t mean it’s amazing.
So, if you want to speed up your satellite internet connection, we recommend checking for alternative providers.
Now, hold on a second before you get upset. We know you’re probably using satellite because it’s the only choice you have. But it never hurts to check and see if another company has added a line out to your home since you last looked.
Our ZIP Finder can give you a head start here. Just enter your ZIP code to see what internet service providers (ISPs) are in your area.
And if satellite internet is still your only option, you might take a look at the other provider. We usually recommend Viasat over HughesNet because it typically comes in at a lower price per Mbps than HughesNet does. But hey, if you already have Viasat and it’s not cutting it, you can always check out what HughesNet has to offer.
Lastly, we want to leave you on a hopeful note. While you’re stuck with only two satellite internet options right now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet is supposed to launch in mid-2020, and OneWeb and Amazon’s Project Kuiper will follow with launches of their own shortly after.
More choices are always a good thing.
Check your satellite dish
If swapping ISPs is out of the question, there are still a few troubleshooting steps you can take to speed up your satellite internet connection.
First off, let’s take a look at your satellite receiver, or dish.
1. Look for damage to the dish and cables
Step outside and get up close and personal with your satellite dish and cables. (If your dish is on the roof, please be careful!)
You want to look for any cracks, chips, or other damage to your dish and cables. You’ll also want to make sure your cables aren’t loose where they connect to your dish. And make sure no squirrels or other hungry animals have nibbled on them.
2. Make sure there are no obstructions
While you’re at it, clear away any debris, grime, or snow that’s on your satellite dish. This includes broken branches, leaf piles, and anything else your dish has caught.
3. Check the position of your dish
Most of the time in the US, your satellite receiver should point toward the southern sky.
If you think your dish isn’t properly positioned, we recommend calling your satellite internet provider and asking them to reposition it.
The reason you should have a tech come out to do this is because your ISP will know exactly how to configure your dish’s orientation so it matches the coordinates that will get you the best signal. (Those coordinates are specific to your house and location.)
Check your modem and router
All right, now that you’ve checked out your satellite dish and cables, it’s time to head back inside.
It’s time to take a look at your modem and router to see if you can optimize your internet equipment to get better internet speeds. P.S. We cover some of these tips in our guide on how to get faster internet too.
1. Use your own router
Let’s be frank, the router that your ISP gave you is probably not the best. It might even be several years old by now, which means it may not keep up with today’s internet speeds.
If you can, we always recommend using your own router so you can make sure it’s not only up to date, but that it also includes the features that you want, like multiple Ethernet ports, dual-band technology, and maybe even beamforming, if you’re feeling fancy.
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2. Restart your modem and router
Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard the old recommendation to “power cycle” your modem whenever any kind of internet issue pops up.
Not to keep beating that poor, dead horse, but there might be something to this advice. Power cycling, or restarting your modem and router, can reset a troublesome connection.
Here’s how to restart your modem and router:
- Unplug your router and your modem
- Leave everything unplugged for at least 30 seconds (Go make some coffee or let your dog out.)
- Plug your modem back in, then let it boot up (this takes one to two minutes)
- Now plug your router back in and let it boot up (another one to two minutes)
- Give your internet connection a speed test
3. Update your modem’s firmware
Another quick fix for a faulty internet connection is to update your router’s firmware. Keeping your firmware up to date makes sure your router has the proper support for operating at its maximum capacity.
Think of your router’s firmware like a pro athlete eating a highly nutritious meal before a big game. They need that energy to perform well and make the winning pass.
You can find the latest firmware for your router on the manufacturer’s site. Here are some of the more popular brands that let you search for your router’s firmware using its model number or name:
4. Use an Ethernet cable whenever possible
Wi-Fi is great, but it won’t be as fast as a connection that uses an Ethernet cable. (We call this a “wired” connection.)
Why is that? Well, because Wi-Fi travels through the air instead of through a cable, your internet connection loses speed and signal strength as it travels over distance and has to go through walls, floors, and other objects. A wired connection, on the other hand, just has to travel through the Ethernet cable to get to your device.
If you must use Wi-Fi, you can try swapping to a different frequency if you have a dual-band router. If you’re currently on your router’s 2.4 GHz frequency network, try swapping to the 5 GHz frequency network. This is one of the best Wi-Fi boosters for satellite internet.
Your internet might kick into a higher gear if the frequency you swap to is being used by fewer devices that are all demanding that sweet high-speed connection.
5. Optimize placement of your router
You want your router to be like that best friend who’s always glued to your hip. (Hey, if it’s your dog, we’re not judging!)
Keeping your router close means your internet connection has less distance to travel to reach your devices. And less distance means a stronger signal—which is great for your Umbrella Academy binge-watching session on Netflix.
Use a Wi-Fi extender
My parents’ router is located in their office, which is all the way across the house from the guest bedroom. So last time I visited, I bought them this TP-Link N300 Wi-Fi Extender from Amazon.
The difference was shocking. Before the Wi-Fi extender, my signal would drop out in the bedroom constantly. I couldn’t fall asleep to episodes of The Office. Yup, I had to stand on the bed and yell, “I declare internet bankruptcy!” (Office fans will get that one.)
After plugging in the Wi-Fi extender and getting it set up on the network, which took about five minutes, I got a strong, reliable signal in the guest bedroom. Yasss!
Get a mesh Wi-Fi system
If you have multiple family members, friends, or roommates scattered about a large house, a mesh Wi-Fi system might be the best Wi-Fi booster for satellite internet to ensure every person has an internet connection no matter where they go.
A mesh system sort of blankets your house with a Wi-Fi signal by using points in different rooms. The points act kind of like Wi-Fi extenders, but (depending on the mesh system you get) they may also have an Ethernet port that allows your son to play Call of Duty on the computer in his room while your daughter plays Fortnite on the Xbox downstairs.
P.S. If you’re looking at mesh Wi-Fi systems, check out our Google Nest Wi-Fi review to see if it’s a match for your internet needs.
Recap: How to speed up your satellite internet
Sadly, there’s no way around the fact that satellite internet just can’t keep up with DSL, cable, and fiber internet speeds. But if you’re fresh out of other rural internet options, here are a few tips to speed up your satellite connection.
How to make satellite internet faster
- Check for alternative internet providers (just in case a new one popped up)
- Look for damage to your satellite dish and cables
- Clear out any debris around your satellite dish
- Make sure your dish is still properly positioned (toward the southern sky in the US)
- Buy and use your own router
- Reset your modem and router
- Update your router’s firmware
- Connect to the internet using an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi
- Put your router in a central location
Get the full picture with our satellite internet reviews.