Although internet speeds in Mexico are fairly good in many areas, the country’s terrain means that some areas experience very slow, if any, fixed broadband connections. In these situations, satellite internet can be a viable alternative.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about satellite internet in Mexico, including the main providers and how to set it up.
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- What is Satellite Internet?
- How Does It Work?
- Why Do You Need to Use It?
- Satellite Internet Providers in Mexico
- Cost-Benefit of Satellite Internet
- Network Stability
- How to Install Satellite Internet
- Mobile Satellite Internet Installation
- Who Should Use Satellite Internet?
- Can I Still Use Satellite Internet if I Move Out of Mexico?
- Now, on to You
What is Satellite Internet?
Satellite internet requires the use of a satellite dish to transmit internet signals rather than a cable line. It can replace both cellular and fixed broadband connections. You install a dish in your home (much like a satellite TV dish), which communicates with a satellite network above the Earth.
How Does It Work?
Satellite internet works by connecting a dish on the ground with a satellite in geostationary orbit. Rather than transmitting signals along a phone line (like traditional internet), they’re beamed from a base station on the ground to the satellite and then back down to Earth.
The dish in your home (or RV) receives the signal and connects you to the internet.
Why Do You Need to Use It?
Satellite internet is a decent option in a country like Mexico. The mountainous terrain and physical infrastructure restrictions mean it’s not always possible to get either a landline or cellular connection.
It’s a good option for expats in Mexico who live in a rural area.
It can also work if you’re traveling, as you can fit a mini satellite dish to your RV or boat, or simply carry a mobile terminal.
A single satellite can cover a wide area of ground, generally regardless of terrain. For example, HughesNet – a satellite internet provider – has one satellite to cover Mexico. However, the more satellites a company has, the better its coverage and speed.
This is because there are more satellites dealing with internet traffic, which can then be processed faster. While this isn’t directly related to area coverage, it’s another important metric, as it affects your connection speed.
Connection Speed and Stability
There’s no need to get too technical when discussing connection speeds. We use a metric called Megabits per second (Mbps), which is a measure of how fast the connection is. Some examples of the kinds of speeds you need are:
- 5-20 Mbps: normal website browsing or standard definition streaming for 1-2 users.
- 20-40 Mbps: HD video streaming and light online gaming for 1-3 users.
- 40-100 Mbps: Normal online gaming, up to 4K video streaming, and smart appliances for 2-4 users.
As you can see, the satellite internet providers mentioned above provide different limits on their speeds. HughesNet, for example, has the lowest maximum speed (25Mbps), which would allow you to stream HD video. However, it advises using standard definition to ensure you don’t have any problems.
Starlink has the highest network speeds. If you can achieve the maximum speed of 200 Mbps, you could stream 4K video on several devices at once while also running smart devices in your home.
However, it’s worth noting that these speeds are dependent on other factors, such as the local terrain. Mountains and trees can both affect your connection if they get between your dish and the satellite network (known as line of sight).
There’s no way to give a specific answer for each network for all areas of Mexico. However, unless you live at the bottom of a mountain in a rainforest, you shouldn’t experience much less than full speed.
In case you use a VPN service for extra security, your speed may slow down.
How much a satellite internet contract costs depends on several factors. The first is whether you have to buy hardware, or whether it’s included in the startup price. The second is whether you have to pay for installation.
The only certainty is that you’ll pay a monthly contract fee, just as you would for wired internet. Some example costs are:
- Monthly connection: $40-100
- Installation: $100 and up
- Hardware: $400 and up
These costs are obviously higher than normal internet contracts. Bear in mind that prices will vary between providers, and there’s a more specific breakdown below.
Satellite Internet Providers in Mexico
There are three satellite internet providers in Mexico:
You might have already heard of Starlink. It’s Elon Musk’s company that has set up an extensive network of satellites to (theoretically) provide high-speed internet to remote areas across the globe.
The rough cost is $55 a month with a start-up hardware cost of $414. It recently halved its monthly cost, although it might rise again in the future. You can expect speeds of up to 200Mbps depending on your location. Its latency in Mexico is unknown, but it can offer up to 44ms in the US.
- Largest satellite network
- No installation costs
- Hardware is fairly easy to install yourself
- The least established network in Mexico, making it difficult to compare its speeds
HughesNet is the world’s largest provider of satellite internet. Its current starting price is $49.99 a month for speeds of up to 25Mbps and up to 748ms of latency. While this is far lower than Starlink, it’s arguably a more realistic expectation of what you can expect.
HughesNet advises its plans can cope with things like video streaming, albeit at reduced quality (480p or standard definition). However, its satellite setup includes a built-in Wi-Fi router and free WhatsApp usage.
- Reasonable prices
- Established in Mexico, has verifiable data
- Easy to get hold of its hardware and to set up a contract
- Speeds aren’t great for modern internet use
ViaSat Mexico is more geared towards businesses and communities than individual homes. This is most evident in its pricing, which starts at $799 for speeds of up to 50Mbps and latency of 675ms. It also offers an individual package for $69.99.
This is by far the most expensive option, but it’s better suited for dealing with numerous devices. For example, on another network, you might notice a reduction in speeds if you connect a computer, streaming device, and smartphone. ViaSat theoretically can deal with this level of demand better than the other options.
- Designed for community rather than individual use
- Also well-established in Mexico
- More satellites than HughesNet
Which Company to Choose
The most suitable satellite internet provider depends on your needs, tech knowledge, and your location in Mexico. Use this comparison chart to narrow down your options.
|Company||Monthly Cost ($)||Speed (Mbps)||Latency (ms)||Hardware Installation Cost ($)||Suitable for Traveling?|
Cost-Benefit of Satellite Internet
Satellite internet in Mexico is generally more expensive than a fixed broadband or cellular internet connection. This is because of the maintenance and startup costs of the network’s infrastructure. Specifically, a satellite internet provider needs to pay to launch or use satellites and provide customers with hardware. On the other hand, a fixed broadband provider has minimal startup and maintenance costs.
So, when is satellite internet a viable solution considering the cost?
- If your home has poor (or no) landline or cellphone coverage. In these situations, satellite internet is your only option if you want to get online.
- Your current coverage is poor. Even if you have a landline or cellphone connection, internet speeds are usually poor in rural areas. This often means there’s little point in using them, as you can’t do the normal things you expect to be able to do.
- You’re traveling. If you’re moving around Mexico in an RV or backpacking, or traveling in a boat, satellite internet is your only option for an internet connection.
It’s worth considering satellite internet as an option if any of these apply to you. For example, if you live in a rural area but want to stream video or call friends or family members abroad, a satellite connection is often the way forward.
Connection stability is just as important as speeds. Stability means how consistent your connection is to the network, which can affect your internet speeds. A less stable connection will have lower speeds and higher latency (ping). Latency is the speed at which data is transmitted between your dish and the satellite network in a round trip. All you need to know is that a lower latency is better.
Satellite internet networks are always going to be less stable than fixed or cellphone connections because the satellites orbit the Earth. This means constant changes to communication distances.
However, you shouldn’t experience a complete loss of internet unless something goes very wrong. Starlink has the most satellites in orbit, more than 4,000 satellites, meaning it’s the most stable network. ViaSat has 4, and HughesNet only has 2.
The bottom line is that, when choosing the best satellite internet provider, you must consider both connection speed and stability. Of course, this can get very complicated for the average user, especially when we look at the factors that measure stability. To make things easier, Starlink has the fastest speeds and the most stable connection, followed by ViaSat and then HughesNet.
How to Install Satellite Internet
Installing satellite internet in your home or RV isn’t particularly difficult. This is because national networks (such as HughesNet and ViaSat) will install the hardware for you. It involves fitting a satellite dish to your home and pointing it in the correct direction. They’ll also install all the relevant wiring to get the internet connection into your home.
Bear in mind that this service might not be available across all of Mexico. HughesNet states that it’ll arrange an appointment to install its satellite, but it’s recommended to contact your chosen company before ordering the hardware.
Starlink, however, must be installed yourself. The standard kit includes a floor mount, which you just stand on the ground. But if you want to mount it into your house, you need to buy a separate setup. Either way, it’s not particularly difficult, and the kit includes full instructions for how to do everything. Starlink customer support can also answer any questions or issues you might have.
Once the satellite dish is set up, you then just need to connect your router as normal, that is, by simply plugging in the satellite’s cable. Some providers include a Wi-Fi router or modem, making this job even simpler.
Regardless of which satellite internet provider you choose, installation shouldn’t be a concern. The only one that really requires consideration is Starlink because you have to do it yourself. But as long as you know how to use a drill and a hammer, it shouldn’t take too long.
Mobile Satellite Internet Installation
If you need a mobile setup, installation won’t necessarily be as easy. For example, if you’re fitting a dish to your RV, you’ll likely be expected to do this yourself. It’s not a difficult job, though. Most satellite dishes will come with all the necessary installation equipment, too.
Finally, if you need a fully mobile setup (such as a satellite internet hotspot) for traveling, there’s no setup required. You should only need to charge the device, turn it on, and possibly link it to your smartphone.
Who Should Use Satellite Internet?
Satellite internet is most suited to those living in rural areas that might have poor (or non-existent) phone line connections.
Another applicable situation is if you’re traveling in an RV or boat and want internet on the go. If so, some good options would either be a dish connected to your vehicle or a mobile satellite phone.
Can I Still Use Satellite Internet if I Move Out of Mexico?
If you don’t live in Mexico permanently, or plan to move soon, taking your satellite internet with you could be a massive benefit. After all, if you’ve signed up to a year-long contract, so it’ll be the only way to guarantee you don’t lose money.
So, can you use your satellite internet if you move out of Mexico?
It depends on your provider and where you plan to go. For example, if you’re moving to South or North America, the answer will probably be yes.
But if you plan to move elsewhere, it’s unlikely the same connection will work. Starlink offers a Portability add-on for $25 a month. It allows you to use your satellite internet in other countries on the same continent.
The easiest way to find out will be to contact suppliers directly to understand their policies. Failing that, opt for a mobile satellite phone, as these generally aren’t registered to a single continent in the same way as a satellite dish.
Related article: How to Choose the Best Sim Card in Mexico
Now, on to You
Choosing a satellite internet provider in Mexico depends on several factors. Although Starlink appears to be the clear winner, it’ll be worth researching the specific benefits of each company before you buy. Also, consider contacting them directly to discuss your location and needs.
Generally, satellite internet speeds in Mexico should be fairly consistent, other than in the most mountainous areas. If you can, look up a speed test to see what different companies offer in the area you’ll be staying or living in.