DSL Vs. Satellite Internet: Which One Do You Need for Your Project?

Many homeowners, especially in rural areas, usually scratch their heads over the best DSL vs. satellite internet. These two internet providers have the best coverage and have been the preferred option in rural areas where …

Satellite Internet

Many homeowners, especially in rural areas, usually scratch their heads over the best DSL vs. satellite internet.

These two internet providers have the best coverage and have been the preferred option in rural areas where faster options such as fiber optic cannot be accessed. 

However, they differ in many ways, including technology, speed, coverage, and pricing.

So which one is the best for your project? 

Table of Contents

What is DSL?

Discovered in the 1980s, a digital subscriber line (DSL) is a type of broadband internet connection that utilizes your existing phone line.

A phone connection is a copper wire that can carry your phone signal but still offers room for other signals.

That said, even though it uses phone lines, it doesn’t compromise your phone signal online.

The signals move at different frequencies, with that of DSL moving faster. The designers came up with this technology to replace dial-up. 

DSL cable 

DSL cable 

What is Satellite Internet?

In the modern days, when people talk of satellites, they refer to the artificial bodies set in orbit around the moon or other planets other than the natural satellite.

Unlike DSL, which delivers internet via your phone line, satellites receive signals from space using a dish in your compound mounted on the roof or wherever appropriate. 

You only need a clear sky view with a dish receiver, and you are set.

That is why you can access this internet in locations with inaccessible providers. 

Satellite dish

Satellite dish

DSL Vs. Satellite Internet: How to Choose


Let’s begin with the technology these two providers use to offer the internet, as this will help you decide what can work best for your project.

DSL operates using mobile phone lines on earth and requires underground copper wire.

It uses frequencies not utilized by the phone so that you stay connected even when you are online.

The fact that it runs over the pre-existing lines makes the setup easy. 

Satellites HughesNet and Viasat, to be specific, rely on geostationary satellites to communicate or smaller low earth orbit satellites, as in the case of Starlink.

This is more complicated to set up compared to the simple nature of DSL.

However, as long as you have a dish and a good view, you can access it. 


Satellite internet is available anywhere you can see the sky, which is hard to beat.

From that, we can say it has 100% accessibility.

However, it requires a dish, and the setup may not be as simple as DSL that uses the existing line.

DSL is not left much behind when it comes to coverage. It has been around for many years, and around 88% of the USA has at least one DSL provider.

Other populations, especially urban areas, have access to two providers or more. 

That said, the satellite is no doubt the best when it comes to availability or coverage.

In most rural areas, it ends up being the only option, and you can access the two providers, HughesNet and Viasat, anywhere.

If you can access Starlink, the better because it is the fastest and most stable satellite option. 

Satellite dish above the city

Satellite dish above the city


We can generally say DSL offers better speed compared to satellite internet.

Satellites have data caps and long terms that limit their speed, which is why it is slower.

For most satellite providers, the data cap usually ranges between 40-150GB, which is relatively smaller than most options.

However, Starlink can offer a data cap of up to 1 TB.

The slowest satellite internet provider is HughesNet which can top out at 25mbps.

However, given that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers 25mbps a broadband speed, HughesNet is still a good internet provider.

This is fast enough to meet your immediate home internet needs, such as streaming, online homework, and remote work. 

For Starlink, most residential users report a speed of 50mbs to 250mbps.

However, the business plan can offer you up to 500mbps.

DSL generally has a better and more reliable speed than satellite.

The exact speed you will get will depend on the service tier you pay for, your location, and your IPS.

Popular providers such as AT&T have a maximum speed of 100mbps.

Therefore, it is only faster than a satellite if you can access the top speed. 

Unlike satellites, DSL has no data cap, so you can stream without it slowing down. 


Another great thing with DSL internet is pricing.

Despite the speed and the data you get, it still tends to be more affordable than satellite.

You can get internet for as little as $20 per month, but this will depend on the provider available and your location. 

At a similar speed, the satellite internet option usually costs more.

Most of the charges you incur come from operating the satellite.

But given that you get nationwide availability with HughesNet and Viasat, it is still worth the cost. 

DSL Vs. Satellite Internet Providers

For DSL, the most popular providers include: 

  • AT&T
  • CenturyLink
  • Frontier
  • Kinetic

On the other hand, only three main providers offer satellite internet.

These include:

  • HughesNet
  • Viasat
  • Starlink

Satellite Internet Vs. DSL for Gaming

DSL is better than satellite for gaming if you can access a great speed.

It has lower latency and, therefore reliable connection for gaming.

Satellites have relatively higher latency and may throttle when playing games like Overwatch.

First-person shooters are unplayable in most areas. 

DSL Vs Satellite Internet – FAQ

Is DSL More Reliable than Satellite?

DSL has a lower latency and cannot be limited by weather conditions, which makes it more reliable than satellite.

However, satellites can be more reliable in rural areas where internet speed is just 5mbps. 

Is DSL Good Enough for Netflix?

A faster DSL provider can offer plenty of speed for most online activities, including streaming Netflix.

At 100mbps, you can stream Netflix without throttle. 

Why Would Someone Use Satellite Over DSL Network?

Satellite is widely available and can use where you can’t access DSL.

The satellite is the best option in areas where internet speed is as low as 5mbps. 

DSL Vs. Satellite Internet: Final Thought

DSL and satellite can be great options where fiber options are unavailable.

But if you have to decide between the two, DSL has a speedy connection and is more reliable than satellite.

However, this is not the case in every location, as DSL is not as accessible as a satellite.