Satellite broadband in Northern Ireland

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Satellite broadband in Northern Ireland

Is satellite broadband a good option for properties in Northern Ireland and what are the alternatives?

If you're a resident of Northern Ireland, you'll want to know what the best options are to get a reliable, high-speed internet connection.

Here's an evaluation of satellite broadband in Northern Ireland, plus a look at alternatives such as 4G broadband

Slow broadband In Northern Ireland

Out of the four UK regions, latest figures show that Northern Ireland has the greatest number of homes and businesses that suffer from painfully slow broadband. In fact, there are estimated to be in excess of 80,000 Northern Irish properties that can't even get broadband speeds of 10 Mbps.

One of the better known solutions for those typically more rural properties struggling to get a good internet connection is satellite broadband and we'll take a look at that first. However there’s another solution that’s even better but we’ll come on to that.

What is satellite broadband?

Satellite broadband is one alternative broadband delivery method which offers a solution to slow internet connections for properties across the UK, including Northern Ireland.

An engineer will fit a special dish on your property which is then very carefully aligned to point at a geostationary satellite orbiting high above the earth. Once the engineer has completed installation and fine tuning of the system, it’ll be hooked up to a wireless router in the property, allowing you to access broadband via satellite wherever you’re in range of WiFi.

For more detail about satellite broadband and its pros and cons, take a look here.

What Is Satellite Broadband

Who is satellite broadband suitable for?

It’s potentially for any property in Northern Ireland that does not have access to a fast broadband service through their landline.

This is much more common in the case of rural properties but it’s not unknown for alternative broadband services to be set up in more built-up areas where faster fibre-based connections have not yet been rolled out.

Satellite broadband positives


Satellite broadband is available to nearly every property in the UK, provided it has a clear view of the relevant section of sky.


Download and upload speeds are significantly faster than dialup or ADSL services (those are types of broadband that are not fibre-based in any way).

What are the negatives?

Weather related instability

A satellite broadband service is sensitive to certain weather conditions. For this reason, storms and thick fog will likely cause temporary instability or outages.

High latency

Due to the distance the signal must travel, the connection will suffer from much higher latency of around 600-900ms. This makes activities such as online gaming or video calliong nearly impossible and there will be delays when doing anything on the internet.

Data caps

All satellite broadband plans feature something called a 'priority data allowance'. This is the amount of monthly data that will be transmitted at the the fastest speed your satellite connection can maintain. But once that allowance has been reached, all subsequent data will be automatically throttled and users will see their satellite broadband performance plummet to frustratingly slow levels for the rest of the current month.

For example, if your monthly plan has a 50GB priority datat allowance, then broadband performance using that 50GB will be good. However, as soon as you’ve used that allowance, the speed of your satellite broadband connection will dramatically reduce and only really be adequate for basic web browsing and checking emails etc.

As the typical household in Northern Ireland gets through around 300GB of data each and every month, this can quickly become a very frustrating problem.

High cost

Monthly satellite broiadband plans start from around £30 per month but those only feature an unrealistically small amount of 'priority data'. A plan that would be workable for an average household would cost at least £100 per month. One-off equipment and set-up costs vary widely, but can also run into the hundreds of pounds.

Are there other alternative options that are worth considering?

Yes absolutely. Before opting for a satellite broadband service you should very definitely look into 4G broadband.

There’s good 4G coverage across Northern Ireland, the service has no 'priority data alowances', so your connection operates at the maximum speed available all of the time - and a 4G broadband service doesn’t suffer from high latency. In fact, 4G-delivered broadband is often described as the only real viable alternative for those who can’t currently access a reliable landline broadband service.

And don’t worry if your mobile phone shows little or even no 4G signal where you are, because 4G broadband can still be set up at your property. Properties in areas that struggle with weak or flaky 4G coverage can have a high gain outdoor 4G antenna installed which dramatically boosts receptio and makes a world of difference. And if you're in a strong coverage area, then all you'll need is a 4G router together with appropriate SIM card.

At National Broadband we’re rural broadband specialists. Learn more about our 4G based service here.

Fast 4G Broadband

Who are the main satellite broadband providers?

Would you like to know more? Give us a call on 03333 447700 or email us

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