DirecTV Internet is a faster alternative to dial-up Internet access and is useful in rural areas where DSL and Cable providers may not yet offer service. But just how much faster than dial-up is it? And how exactly does it work if it’s so different from standard cable or DSL services?
How Internet Access Through DirecTV Works
Whereas Cable and DSL Internet utilize the phone lines and cables in your house, Internet access through DirecTV relies on the use of a satellite in the way DirecTV also transmits its television signals. Because almost any home can have a satellite dish installed, this makes it an alternative to the crawling speeds of the archaic dial-up Internet services. Of course, this requires the installation of a mounted satellite dish, which can be a bit of hassle.
However, when discussing DirecTV Internet, one thing you probably don’t realize is that DirecTV actually works through the use of third-party Internet service providers (ISPs), such as HughesNet or Exede, depending on the area you live in. This means the equipment you get is likely to be from the third-party provider rather than DirecTV itself.
What Are the Speeds Like?
Good question — and not one DirecTV apparently likes to answer, because their speeds — while faster than dial-up — still severely lacks when compared to Cable or DSL providers. Up until last year, DirecTV Internet averaged out around 1.5mbps (megabits per second).
To put this into perspective, Comcast’s slowest speed in any of their offered packages is 1.5mbps, and goes as high as 305mbps in their higher-speed packages. Even now, the highest speeds offered by DirecTV Internet (such as through HughesNet) don’t exceed 15mbps.
But bandwidth isn’t the only thing to be concerned about when dealing with Internet connections. Latency is a much overlooked aspect when determining Internet access quality. Latency is the amount of time it takes for your Internet signal to reach out and get a response, whereas bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred per second. Latency is particularly important if you’re a gamer, where real-time online playing relies on a solid Internet connection and lightning-quick responses. If you have lag, or latency, of more than 200 milliseconds, you’re going to have noticeable problems in your gaming experience. DirecTV Internet has an average latency of 500ms. My own connection’s latency is only 33ms.
What are the Pros?
Even with its slow speeds, Satellite Internet is still leaps and bounds ahead of dial-up, so for those living in areas where there are no other options, it can be a saving grace.
If you’re already signed up with DirecTV for television or phone service, adding Internet to your bundle is an easy way to cut down on the number of monthly bills you have to worry about. One satellite dish can provide your TV, Internet, and phone service without additional installation of dishes. Regardless of what third party your Internet is being supplied through, they all offer Internet security features, as well as parental controls to monitor what your children access online, so you know they shouldn’t be able to access inappropriate content on the web.
What about the Cons?
Although satellite reception isn’t as affected by weather as it was in the early days of the technology, they’re still prone to going out in bad weather. Things like snow, hail, and lightning storms might interfere with your Internet (and Satellite TV) connections. It’s something to keep in mind if you live in a part of the country where such weather is common.
The steep price tag can be a deterrent for many people. Many customers claim that DirecTV has yet to perfect the art of bundling services to actually make them worth the money. HughesNet itself charges $99 a month just for Internet that runs at subpar speeds. This isn’t counting the installation fees, and the monthly costs of having DirecTV television or phone services. DirecTV Internet through Exede caps out at 12mbps, includes a monthly limit to how much you can download, and isn’t any better in terms of pricing.
In the end, it’s hard to recommend DirecTV Internet services when they aren’t offering anything other Internet service providers are also offering — at lower prices and better quality. Stick with AT&T DSL, Comcast Cable, or any other provider that doesn’t include a satellite dish in the mix. In the event such providers aren’t available in your area, do your research.
Compare your dial-up to the speed you’d be getting with satellite, and decide if DirecTV Internet is worth the money for the speed you’d be getting.
Photo Credit: Getaway Cabins