The Ultimate Alternative to Dial-Up and BroadbandIn terms of speed, probably the best Internet connection service option available today is broadband. The only downside to this choice is that it will require land-based installations in order to be set up and used. Dial-up, its much-slower cousin, is still a functional choice but that, too, relies on existing phone lines.
Enter satellite internet access, a service that allows users to take advantage of technology that makes wireless connectivity possible, wherever the user may be. Currently, there are several companies that offer the service. Of these, the two companies that have the biggest market share are Hughesnet and Wildblue. Let's take a brief look at both options and what they can offer:
Hughesnet vs. Wildblue
Hughesnet is the satellite internet service from Hughes Communications. It's the more popular choice among residential, small-, medium- and large-sized businesses. Wildblue, a competing service, currently lists over 150,000 subscribers nationwide, most of which are residential and small-sized enterprises.
An advantage to Hughesnet's satellite internet service is that although the upload/download speeds they offer are comparable to those offered by Wildblue, Hughesnet has a wider geographical reach. It is currently supported by 12 satellites while Wildblue has only 2.
In terms of coverage, both services should be available in commonly populated and remote areas in the contiguous United States. However, Wildblue, being the youngish system that it is, may not always be available in certain areas. On its website, Wildblue still asks prospective subscribers to check the availability of their service in some locations, which Wildblue references using the subscriber's zip code. Hughesnet, on the other hand, has a wider coverage.
Wildblue's modem, probably the main reason why the company can keep its services at reasonable cost, acts like cable modem that's been modified. On the downside, it's not exactly fully loaded as a modem. Users who frequently check settings, signal strength and diagnostics may find the lack of customizable features disappointing.
Hughesnet's modem, on the other hand, allows users to access a set up menu and view internal diagnostics. Diagnostics may seem like useless figures to the uninitiated but they do perform a valuable function when used with satellite internet. Diagnostics, for one, can be indispensable in case the system fails, doesn’t perform as expected or suffers from bad weather conditions.