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For New Zealanders in regional areas out of reach of fixed-line services, satellite internet is often the best way to access a connection.

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While many Kiwis have easy access to fibre, wireless and copper broadband, those that live outside urban areas do not have the same amount of options. Satellite internet is one alternative that New Zealanders in rural and remote locations can use to get connected when other forms of broadband are not available.

How does satellite internet work?

To access satellite internet, a dish is installed on the roof of your home that sends and receives data to and from an orbiting satellite. The satellite dish enables the signal to reach into your home and to your modem so that you can connect your various devices. No underground cables are needed, just a clear line of sight to the sky so that the data can be transmitted.

For many years, the speeds offered on residential satellite connections have been substantially lower than metropolitan broadband services and more costly. For some Kiwis, satellite internet is a last resort but one that works. If you have room for a large satellite dish, then this could be the option for you.

How fast is satellite?

Historically, satellite speeds have been very slow at 2 Mbps download but are increasing as technology improves. Gravity reports that its broadband speeds can reach up to 50Mbps since a new satellite was installed, while Farmside advertises top speeds of 16Mbps download and 2Mbps upload.

Where is satellite available?

Satellite internet is available throughout the country including Stewart Island, Kawau Island and Great Barrier Island. It is also accessible on the Chatham Islands. There are some geographical requirements (like having no overhanging obstructions) that must be met before proceeding with installation, but your provider will discuss any issues at the time of installation.

What to consider when comparing satellite internet plans

When looking for a suitable satellite plan for your household, here’s what matters:

Speed

The speeds you can get with satellite differs with each provider, and you may have the option to choose from different options. If you want to be able to stream Netflix and have faster downloads, it makes sense to look for the best speed available.

Cost

Pricing will vary across different providers, depending on speed and data inclusions but most plans cost anywhere between $99 and $290 per month. Some satellite plans break up data allowances into peak and off-peak times, skewed towards having significantly lower peak-time data allowances.

In addition to your monthly cost, there are installation and equipment costs to consider. These can be upward of $500, and may also include transportation costs for technicians to come out and set everything up.

Data allowance

Satellite plans are available with varying data allowances. The smallest data allowance currently available is 10GB but you can also get unlimited. Since there can be a big difference in cost between data amounts, it’s important to work out what you will need before signing up. If you are not sure which option to choose, try our data usage calculator.

For the times when you need a little extra data than usual, data packs are usually available.

Who provides satellite internet in New Zealand?

You can get satellite internet plans from Woi, Gravity, Farmside and Wireless Nation. These are currently the only three providers who offer the service in New Zealand.

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