The best choice - 4G or satellite broadband?

If you live in an area where landline broadband is painfully slow, you're going to need an alternative broadband solution to get a good internet connection.

There are two options for those with poor speeds to consider - 4G broadband or satellite broadband. So what's the difference and which is best?

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The bottom line?
It's 4G broadband every time - and here's why

Put simply, satellite broadband is much more expensive, as the table below shows.

Service & Type Full Speed Data Allowance Monthly Cost inc VAT
Starlink Satellite None £75.00
Starlink Satellite 40GB per month £80.00
Starlink Satellite 1,000GB per month £150.00
4G Broadband 650GB per month £31.99

All pricing checked and correct as of March 1st, 2024

The far more expensive monthly cost of a satellite broadband service compared to a 4G-based one is yet another reason why 4G broadband has long been considered as the ideal alternative connectivity wherever traditional landline broadband simply does not perform adequately. Need we say more?

As we've mentioned, satellite broadband packages all feature something called "priority data". This is data that is sent to you at full speed - and it's usually only a very small amount per month. Once you've got through this, the speed of your satellite broadband connection will be automatically throttled back and the rest of your data for that entire month will be transmitted to you much more slowly.

Konnect's cheapest satellite broadband package is pricy enough to start with, but it only includes a tiny 50GB of priority data. Starlink's basic package costs much more per month - but includes no priority data at all. So if you want 1000GB of monthly full speed data, you'll need to pay over an eyewatering £150 inc VAT every month.

4G broadband packages cost far less per month and all include a very generous amount of full speed monthly data as standard - typically 650GB before the networks will even consider slowing a 4G connection down. As the average UK household's monthly data usage is around 300GB, there's plenty of headroom.

Older satellite broadband services like Konnect struggle to reach 50Mbps even when running at full speed. Newer services like Starlink can do better, with speeds over 100Mbps - but only if data gets transmitted at the fastest rate possible.

However don't forget about "priority data". This is a monthly data allowance that gets transmitted by satellite broadband at full speed. And it's only that amount of data which is sent at full speed each month - once that's used up, all other data will be transmitted at much slower speeds until the start of the new month. This is really important to realise - select the "Speed Throttling" tab for more details.

As for 4G broadband? Well, if you're lucky enough to live near a mast that's been 4G+ enabled, you could potentially see speeds in excess of 150Mbps. Having said that, the UK's average 4G broadband speeds are around 30Mbps, when measured across the country as a whole.

The equipment needed to receive satellite broadband is more complex and therefore more costly. For example, as of December 2023, the cost of getting set up with Starlink's satellite broadband service is £450 inc VAT.

Getting started with 4G broadband costs as little as £99 inc VAT if you're in a strong signal area, or only £299 inc VAT if you're in a location with weaker 4G coverage and need to have an outdoor 4G antenna professionally installed.

You should also consider the equipment that gets fitted to the outside of your home. With 4G broadband, depending on signal strength where you are, you may need us to install a small and unobtrusive outdoor 4G antenna measuring just 29cm x 18cm.

Satellite broadband is different, needing a minimum 30cm diameter solid metal dish with protruding arm to be fixed to an outside wall. This is going to be very noticeable.

Satellite broadband relies upon a connection to a satellite that is at least 550km away (though older satellites are a massive 36,000km up in space). This means that a satellite-based connection is much more likely to be adversely affected by external factors, such as heavy rain or fog, snow, high winds, tree growth or minute dish movement causing misalignment.

The huge distance that satellite broadband has to cover (a minimum of 1,100km into space and back) also means that it is not good for real-time applications such as online gaming or video calling, because that length of travel causes an unavoidable delay in a satellite connection's responsiveness (known as "latency").

In contrast, 4G broadband is delivered via mobile phone masts that are typically no more than 8km away, so the service will be much more stable and weather conditions would have to be remarkably severe to impair performance.

... so try 4G broadband first

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What is satellite broadband?

Satellite broadband is an alternative method of providing a home or business with an internet connection. Similar to the way that satellite TV works, it is beamed direct to properties from satellites either in low-earth or geostationary orbits around the earth.

Each property wanting satellite broadband will need a special dish installed which sends and receives broadband signals to and from the satellite in space. That dish gets wired up to a special modem and WiFi router inside a property so that it can be shared by several people.

And what is 4G broadband?

4G broadband is now available to around 99% of all UK properties. It's very cost-effective and really quick to set up - you could be up and running with 4G broadband in a matter of days.

Also known as 'mobile broadband', 4G broadband uses the same signals as a smartphone to access the internet by connecting to a nearby 4G mast. This connection is then used to provide fast and reliable broadband to a single home or business. Just like any other broadband connection, the service can happily be used by multiple people or devices at the same time.

In places with strong 4G coverage, all that's needed is a 4G WiFi router and a SIM card on the mobile network that's best for your particular location. And for weaker coverage areas, a small but highly effective outdoor 4G antenna can be fitted to provide great broadband - and that includes more rural areas where smartphones may only show weak or flaky 4G signal levels.


There are always going to be pros and cons with any option you choose to get good broadband at locations that are let down by traditional landline providers.

However, the very first thing to do is find out if your property is covered by 4G broadband (and these days, check for 5G broadband too), before even starting to think about satellite broadband. That's because over the last 5 or so years, a 4G broadband service has become acknowledged as by far the best alternative broadband solution for those suffering with slow internet.

Satellite broadband is a viable alternative if a 4G-based broadband service is just not available at your location - but for all the reasons given above, it should really only be viewed as a last resort.

So just get in touch and ask us to run a completely free coverage check on your precise location. First to see if we can get you broadband over 4G or 5G and then to establish which network would be best for exactly where you are (this is easy for us because we deal with all four UK mobile networks).

Remember, if you're in a strong 4G signal area, you'll only need a 4G router plus SIM card to get going. What's more, properties with weaker coverage can still get fast and stable broadband over 4G by having an outdoor antenna installed - including places where mobile phones may show very poor or even no 4G signal. And best of all, we could have you up and running with much faster broadband in a matter of days.

At National Broadband we've got over 20 years of experience in delivering genuinely life-changing faster broadband to those suffering with the slowest internet. Find out more by clicking below.

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