Satellite Internet Options for Tiny Houses

Satellite Internet Options for Tiny Houses Pin

Several months ago, I first covered wired(landline) internet options like dsl, cable, and fiber optics. If you haven’t, it’s strongly recommended that you read that post first because it covered important concepts like the data usage and data caps. Some months later(and most recently), I then covered wireless internet options in my part 2 post; this one covered personal and public wifi internet options for tiny house living. Finally, this last post in this series will cover satellite internet options.

First, I’ll cover the pros and cons of satellite internet options; there are similarities and differences compared with those of wireless internet options. Next, I’ll do an in-depth coverage of how satellite internet works. This is important as this understanding is needed when buying/choosing a satellite internet option for your tiny house; I’ll also explain some different mounting and installation methods as well as their average cost range. Finally, I will cover what available satellite internet plans can be purchased for both mobile and stationary homes.

Pros vs Cons of Satellite Internet Options

Note that the pros and cons may vary depending on whether the purchased satellite internet option is suited for mobile or stationary tiny homes.

Pros:

  • Mobile satellite internet options offer similar wide-area coverage as mobile wifi. However, unlike mobile satellite, mobile wifi networks have “dead zones” where internet cannot reach due to a lack of cell towers.
  • Interference is notably less for satellite signals than wifi signals because most of it travels through space and not though the atmosphere. However, heavy rain, storms, and snow can still affect satellite signals. Additionally, there is something call a “sun outage” where the sun can interfere with satellite communication channels.
  • Stationary satellite internet options offer high speed data rates similar to cable and fiber options. Also, installation and plans are not expensive; and there are no landline extensions to worry about.

Cons:

  • In comparison, mobile satellite installation and plans are very expensive(as I’ll clarify later). I am guessing that this is due to lack of competition to drive the prices down underneath the growing demand for satellite internet.
  • Data capped plans are prevalent with both mobile and stationary satellite internet plans. However, plans offered for stationary homes generally have higher data caps and are often better suited for full-time usage. In comparison, there very few mobile satellite internet plans can satisfy full-time usage (I will list some options for full-time usage later).
  • However, despite the prevalence of data capped plans, most of these plans will also offer additional data via “free zone”.  The “free zone” is a daily time period where the plans allows subscribers to utilize additional data outside of the initial allocated data. This time window is usually anywhere between 12am-8am because ISP bandwidth usage is lowest at this time period and this frees up more bandwidth for other current users. If possible, anyone who buys a data capped satellite plan should learn to make good use of this “free zone” to maximize data usage.

I. What You Need to Know

I will first summarize how satellite internet works in general. Then I will cover how spot beam technology works. Depending on what spot technology is used underneath a satellite data plan, the coverage and data rate of the plan is heavily affected. Additionally, one will be able to tell from a satellite plan’s features which spot technology is being used. Finally, I’ll explain the different types of dish antenna mounts (and their importance) as well as the general costs of satellite system equipment.

A.Summary of How Satellite Internet Works

The satellites used in IOS(internet over satellite) are in Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO). This means that the satellite orbits above the Earth’s equator and revolves around the Earth at the same speed as the Earth’s rotation; in this sense, the satellite is “stationary” above the Earth’s surface. With multiple of these satellites in GEO, a network/constellation of these satellites will orbit the Earth to transfer data between each other and with ground stations on the Earth’s surface.

The vast majority of personal satellite internet systems utilize VSAT (very-small aperture terminal) technology. This technology enables personal satellite systems to function as private ground stations which can receive and send data to its associated geostationary satellite(s). The ‘very small’ in VSAT refers to the relatively small size of the system and antenna dish (usually around 0.75-1.2 m) which enables VSAT systems to be used for personal and portable usage.

Above descriptions aside, what does require in-depth explanation are “spot beams”. A spot beam is a satellite signal that is specially concentrated in power so that it only covers a limited geographic area on Earth. Spot beams are used so that only earth stations in the intended reception area can receive the satellite signal. This means that if one’s dish antenna & system went out of the reception area(like via tiny house on wheels), the connection would then need to be reestablished in the new area.

A spot beam’s signal strength(data rates) and area coverage depends on what spot beam technology is used; and each of these spot beam technologies occupy a different frequency band used in satellite communications.

B.Main Spot Beam Technologies

The spot beam technologies utilizing Ku and Ka frequency bands are most relevant to tiny houses. Hence, all satellite data plans will be based on either the Ku or Ka-band spot beam technology. The spot beam technology will affect the average data rate and geographical coverage of a data plan.

To slowly explain why, first take a look at the image below:
Satellite Spot Beams Diagram

The above diagram demonstrates the coverage of  “spot beams”. The one on the left represents a spot beam that encompasses the entire country as a coverage area; this area is is covered via spot beam technology in the Ku frequency range. The right shows a bunch of smaller spot beams adjacent to one another; each of these spots are covered via spot beam technology in the Ka frequency band.

i. Ku-Band Spot Beams

The spot beam(a.k.a. wide beams) on the above-left that covers the entire county is based on technology that utilizes the Ku-Band (~ 12-18 GHz). The coverage area of one wide beam can cover a span of 1,000-2,000+ miles;  which can cover an entire country like the U.S.

This means that if a tiny house on wheels(with satellite internet) traveled anywhere within the county, it would still be under the assigned ‘spot’ and the connection with the satellite would not have to be reestablished. Hence, most satellite internet plans for RVs will utilize Ku-band spot beam technology to accommodate traveling needs. Despite the wide coverage area, the signal power gets diluted over a large area and the data rates are not that high as a result.

Theoretically, one can get a higher data rate if one’s dish antenna is larger in order to “catch” more of the signal. The maximum feasible dish antenna size that can be mounted on a mobile home is roughly ≈0.85 m. Under Ku-band spot beams for this antenna size, the common data rate ranges is about 0.5-4 Mbps. This is enough for standard internet usage; but streaming might be difficult depending on the plan. One can increase the dish size to 1-1.5 m for a better data rate, this would only be feasible for stationary homes and not mobile tiny homes(as it would be too big to put on the foldable mount needed for travel).

ii. Ka-Band Spot Beams

On the above-right of the diagram, there the multiple (smaller) circles indicate multiple spot beams covering the county. Spot beams utilized by Ka-Band(~ 26–40 GHz) technology cover about 100-300 miles each. To cover a larger area, a Ka-band satellite would utilize multiple overlapping spot beams.

However, each of the these spots are autonomous. As explained earlier, if the antenna and system (like in a mobile home) moves outside of its assigned spot, the satellite won’t acknowledge the same antenna and system even if it was re-positioned in an adjacent spot recognized by the satellite/provider. Then there is the hassle of contacting the satellite operator(s) about the change in position so the operator(s) can then reconfigure the satellite to acknowledge the receiver’s new position.

Thus, satellite plans utilizing this type of spot beam technology seem better suited for stationary tiny houses in remote off-grid areas. However, if one’s mobile tiny house ONLY moves occasionally(like once every few weeks or months) , it maybe worth getting a tripod mounted antenna receiver which can be setup on each new location (I will explain more later).

Because these spots are smaller, the signal concentration is greater in each one and this enables higher data rates. As a result, the average data rates are roughly 8-12+ Mbps; which would enable streaming. Additionally, since Ka-band spot beams are generally suited for stationary homes, a large dish antenna size isn’t a hindrance(unless it is for mounting on a movable tripod).

Lastly, there is ongoing development in making it so satellite dish antenna systems moving from one spot beam area to an adjacent one will automatically get registered in the new spot beam area. The implication of this is that Ka-band spot technology can eventually be used to enable satellite internet for mobiles homes with a higher data rate than that of Ku-band spot technology. However, there aren’t any mobile satellite internet options via Ka-band currently in the market (to my knowledge). This is something to keep in mind so one can eventually take advantage of the benefits of mobile satellite internet based in the Ka-band over the Ku-band.

C.Satellite Antenna Receiver Systems & Total Costs

Below is a straight-forward diagram that shows a basic satellite system setup as well as different places to mounts:

Satellite Internet Antenna System Diagram

From the above diagram, the 3 main components are the dish antenna, modem, and router. The dish antenna(via VSAT technology) receives and transmits data to the GEO satellite. The satellite modem converts the satellite signal data into a form suitable for local network use and vice-versa. The router distributes the (converted) satellite data between the devices within the router’s network as well as enable communication between all devices on the network; outgoing devices’ data can be sent to the satellite modem as well.

The system and components in the above diagram would have been self-explanatory to anyone who had read the previous two posts on tiny home internet options as well as everything from the previous sections of this post.

Depending on the installation package, a satellite dish antenna system can be set up in roughly one of three ways (mostly depending on the mount). This means that depending on whether one wants a satellite connection for a stationary or mobile tiny home, one needs to purchase an installation package (along with the data plan) that complements one’s locational needs. Also, because of the varying materials of the different mounts, the total package cost will vary.

i. Automated Mount

The dish antenna can be mounted on an automatic folding mechanism and have a turning mechanism as well for signal adjustment. This kind of mount would be needed exclusively for tiny homes on wheels(or RVs) that are often on the move.

When the tiny house is travelling, the dish is folded down in travelling position (the total height of tiny house on wheels plus the folded antenna dish needs to be <13.5 feet to physically/legally pass most highway clearings) and unfolded when in use (with the tiny house being stationary).

This mount can additionally have automated turning/angling for signal adjustment. If one’s mobile satellite internet requires an automated mount, it is likely a Ku-band service plan since there should be no interruption when driving the mobile tiny house over long distances.

Although the folding mechanism and/or turning is convenient, the system’s total cost becomes very expensive. Hiring may also be needed since and unfolding/folding apparatus may not be self-installed easily. The total system cost plus possible installation costs can easily be around $6000-$9000+ for a one-time cost.

ii. Fixed Mount

Instead of a folding/unfolding mount, the dish antenna can be manually bolted (aka ‘fixed’ mount) onto the tiny house. Without the folding/unfolding mechanism and the possible installation costs, the total system cost drops down significantly to around $1000-$2000+.

However, this kind of mount is not suitable for tiny houses on wheels because the dish can hit obstacles/debris as well as air resistance; also, constantly readjusting the dish angle at each new location is unfeasible. This type of mount is best suited for stationary tiny houses (on a foundation); in that case, the dish’s angle and position can always stay fixed.

If an offered satellite service plan requires a fixed mount, it is almost certainly a Ka-band service plan since the stationary tiny house will always be under its assigned spot beam.

iii. Tripod Mount

The antenna dish can be mounted on a tripod on the ground when in use and put away when not it use. Because there is no expensive folding/unfolding mechanism and installation, the total system costs are also lower. Here, the total costs should be around $800-$1800.

If one’s satellite service plan utilizes the Ka-band (which shouldn’t be suited for mobility), it is possible to use a tripod to make the Ka-band service plan “mobile”. How this is done is when a mobile tiny house reaches its destination; the owner sets up the dish antenna tripod, adjusts the dish angle, and calls the satellite operator(s) for a new spot beam assignment; afterwards, the satellite internet becomes available.  Then, after at least several months, the owner stores away the dish antenna and tripod and drives the tiny house to a new location.

A tripod-mounting package and an associated data plan should only be considered if one plan to move his/her tiny house only on occasion; because having to repeatedly setup the tripod and spot beam assignment can become a hassle. If one intends to constantly be on the move, it’s best to get an automated folding/turning mount and associated plan (even though it’s more expensive).

iv. Equipment Cost Breakdown Summary

So far, only the total system costs have been explained with respect to the mounting method. To start with breaking down the total costs for the main parts (excluding auxiliaries like ethernet cables and power source), an RV satellite antenna itself can cost $300-$1000+ depending on its brand and functionality. A tripod or mount(without moving mechanical & electrical parts) should cost $50-$150. If a mount has automated folding and positioning capacities, it would cost 4000-$6000+ due to the amount of technology involved. Lastly, a standard satellite modem should cost $100-$500+.

II.Satellite Brands and Plans to Choose From

Finally, after strenuous research, I have listed below several satellite internet brands(and plans) worth considering. I divided the following selections based on which satellite internet plans are suitable for tiny houses on wheels and stationary tiny houses.

A.Satellite Internet Options for Tiny Houses on Wheels

Finding mobile/portable satellite internet options for tiny houses on wheels has been especially difficult. However, I have found 2 mobile/portable satellite internet options which I believe are the best ones within this category.

i. RVDataSat.com

This site only sells the RVDataSat 840 satellite antenna set and its associated data plans. This antenna set uses an automated mount that has automated folding/unfolding as well as turning for adjusting the dish’s position.

The current cost of the whole system(without the data plans) is $6495. Also, according to the site, the system is sent as a kit to the buyer for easy self-installation; there is even a link to PDF instructions explaining how to install and operate the satellite(which you should read first before considering buying). Here is a map showing the satellite’s coverage range:

RVDataSat 840 Coverage

The coverage only covers North America. Looking closer, the coverage map starts from the bottom of Guatemala and covers all the way to the most dense and populous regions of Canada(excluding the more barren and polar sections where mobile home owners are not likely to go); even Hawaii and the Caribbeans are covered.

First, there are the “Access” data plans to complement the RVDataSat 840 satellite antenna set. These plans are all un-metered and they allow unlimited web surfing, email, and other common web applications. But, to maintain network quality for all users, applications like VoIP, video, Skype, Netflix, Hulu, and all of the other services that require a constant non-bursting stream of data to operate are given very low data rates and data packet priority within the network.

RVDataSat 840 Service PlansRVDataSat 840 Service Plans

The above plans’ attributes should be self-explanatory. The download/upload rates of these plans range from 1Mbps/200Kbps to 2Mbps/1Mbps. These speeds resemble that of 3G cellular; which should be enough for standard web applications that doesn’t involve streaming. The monthly costs of these plans ranges between $80-$410/month which may seem high to some; but I think this is not too bad given that these plans are all unlimited unlike other satellite options.

Out of the above 4 plans, I believe the Access 300 plan offers best value because the Access 400 plan costs $200 more monthly for just a modest increase in upload bandwidth; which many subscribers won’t need. Otherwise, the Access 300 & 400 plans are virtually the same.

Besides the “Access” plans, there are also offers 2 “RV Entertainment” plans geared to offering an uninterrupted no-buffering HD video(including VoIP, video, Skype, Netflix, Hulu, and etc.) which are:

RVDataSat 840 Entertainment Plans

Some differences apart from the previous plans is that the “RV Entertainment” plans include a $99 setup fee and a “free zone” ranging from 12 AM-6 AM EST (which wasn’t offered with the “Access” plans).

The download/upload data rates of the RV Entertainment plans are 2Mbps/256Kbps and 4Mbps/256Kbps, respectively. However, I feel that in order for uninterrupted buffering and streaming to work, the data throughput would have to be close to the plan’s download/upload bandwidth and the signal dedication would have to be high as well. Lastly, there is a separate  $24.95/month VoIP service option which enables phone calling over satellite service.

As stated before, if the subscriber wants no video streaming, the Access 300 offers the best value. If the subscriber is open to having HD video, the RV Entertainment Plus plan offers the best value because it offers a higher bandwidth than the Access 400 plan yet costs less monthly with the former costing $329.00/month vs $409.99/month for the later. If $329.00/month seems too high, the regular RV entertainment plan offers the next best value. This is because the regular RV entertainment plan($209.00/month) has a similar bandwidth and monthly cost compared to the Access 300 plan except with the added bonus of HD video access.

ii. HughesNet (Gen5 Jupiter II)

HughesNet never officially supported mobile satellite internet. However, some dealers are selling tripod-mounted antenna kits which can be used with HughesNet service plans. As stated earlier, tripod-mounted antenna kits can be used with mobile homes when they are parked so the antenna tripod(s) can be set up and positioned.

HughesNet Gen5 vs. Older Versions

The most current version of this antenna kit is called the Gen5 Jupiter 2 (Gen5 Jupiter for short); this version cam out roughly April 1st, 2017. The existing older versions of this antenna kit like Gen3 Spaceway and Gen4 Jupiter are slowly being phased out. To summarize the capabilities of Gen3 Spaceway and Gen4 Jupiter satellite networks in case one comes across them:

  • Gen3 Spaceway: area coverage over all of America with max. speeds around 5 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up.
  • Gen4 Jupiter: area coverage over only the eastern half of America (roughly east of Mississippi river) and the West coast(i.e. California) with max speeds at 15 Mbps down and 2 Mbps.

As shown in the below map, Spaceway covers all of America(both green & light-green areas) whereas Jupiter only covers the green areas only:

Gen 3 Spaceway and Gen 4 Jupiter Coverage Map

As Gen5 Jupiter 2 is the latest version, it offers better data rates (up to 25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up) and almost nationwide coverage:

HughesNet Gen 5 Coverage Map

However, for some reason, HughesNet 5 doesn’t provide coverage in the areas circled in red. These dead areas roughly include:

  • The border area between northern California and southern Oregon on the East coast.
  • Large parts of Wisconsin and Iowa as well as small parts of Minnesota and Arkansas in the Midwest.
  • and the Southern tip of Florida.

Hopefully, HughesNet will eventually deal with these coverage area discrepancies in Gen 5 Jupiter II satellite network. Outside of the American mainland, Gen 5 also covers the populous parts of Alaska and all of Puerto Rico. If one insists on getting full-coverage (even over the red-circled areas); one can get a Gen 3 Spaceway antenna kit and data plan(whose coverage includes the red-circled areas at the expense of higher data speeds) or purchase from the RVDataSat provider I discussed earlier↑.

Recommended HughesNet 5 Tripod Kit Vendor

While there are a few places which sell Gen 5 Jupiter II antenna kits and data plans, I believe one of the best vendors for this is  mobileinternetsatellite.com. This vendor’s site provides easy navigation to useful guides for beginners. The easy navigation also intuitively leads site visitors to figure out the basics of how to setup the purchased antenna kit (and system) as well as actually help the visitor figure out what system components to buy. I am referring to these two site pages:

  • In the “What is needed” page: By clicking on ‘Basic Setup’ icon and then scroll down, one should see a highlight-able diagram of the tripod antenna set. By putting the cursor over a component and thus highlighting it, one should see a description of the selected component’s function. If one instead clicks the ‘Additional Accessories & Tools’ icon and scrolls down, one should see images of accessories and tools; clicking on any image will show the description and purpose of the respective accessory/tool. Using this page greatly helps one determine what components, tools, and/or accessories should be purchased.
  • In the shopping catalog page: All the listed products are categorized according to each aspect of the antenna dish system setup as well as the data plans. With all the products in one page (and no confusion from navigating between multiple pages), this makes it easy to find everything one would need for a working dish antenna system.

For anyone deciding to buy from this online vendor, I have summarized in the below tables what components one would most likely need  to purchase (along with commentary) from the catalog page:

Dish Antenna & Mount Components: The below table contains the dish receiver system and the tripod components. The below satellite ante system (“HughesNet Jupiter VAR/Mobile system”) consists of a 0.98m receiver antenna, a HT2000W satellite modem, and a radio (TRIA).

Dish Antenna & Mount Components:
HughesNet Jupiter VAR/Mobile system:  $675.00 (this one is needed for mobile, not residential)
Fiberglass tripod by Seco (with Stanley Keeper):$195.00 (assuming a tripod is used and not a wall mount)
Offset adapter:                $125.00
Hardware set (WITH Stanley Keeper): $27.00
Ballast Strap   $5.00
AdirPro Foldable Tripod Stabilizer Floor Guide$40.00
Above Total: $1067.00

Alignment Items: The below items are necessary when aligning the dish receiver after setting up the tripod on a new location. The item that is specially needed is the DAPT2 satellite meter which communicates with the satellite modem and validates the dish alignment. The rest should only be purchased if one doesn’t already have them.

Alignment Items
DAPT2 satellite meter$150.00
Lensatic liquid-filled sighting compass $10.00
Sighting compass & angle finder by Steren$125.00
Short Torpedo level (6") $5.00
Above Total:$290.00

Cables needed: These cables are needed for system connectivity. However, it is best to contact the site’s owners to get a better idea of what cables are actually needed; as well as read the cable path guide.

Cables needed
Single Pigtail cable - connect to TRIA (radio)$3.00
Single Inside cable (up to 15') $4.00
Single Outside cable (up to 130')**   $5.00 (~20 feet of cable which can be common)
Single exterior coax connector box  $10.00
Above Total:     $22.00
**Note: Can be a single length or multiple lengths for both flexibility and troubleshooting. $2.50 charge for every additional 2 connectors installed.

MIS Support Services: The below training module is a must for anyone doesn’t already know how to setup and adjust the portable satellite antenna every time the tiny house on wheels moves to a new location. This module should also cover how to use to earlier listed alignment items.

MIS Support Services
New customer setup & training-VAR/Mobile$125.00

The total of the dish &  mount components and the cables is $1089.00(=$1067.00+$22.00). If all the alignment items are also needed, the total increases to $1379.00(=$1089.00+$290.00) which would be a likely minimum for physical components and items. If the New customer setup & training-VAR/Mobile is also needed, the final one-time total is ~$1504.00 (=$1379.00+$125.00).

Finally, here are the available data plans to choose from:

HughesNet Gen5 VAR/Mobile Plans
Monthly Data (8AM - 6PM only) Monthly Data (Anytime) Monthly Rate
25 GB10 GB$89.99
25 GB25 GB$119.99
25 GB50 GB$169.99
25 GB75 GB$219.99
50 GB100 GB$289.99
50 GB150 GB$389.99

While $1504.00+(1 data plan) is an approximate minimum for a complete portable Gen5 Jupiter satellite antenna; this total will vary depending one’s needs(i.e. if one needs to additional accessories/tools not listed or if one would want a wall mount instead of a tripod mount).

Ending Note

Ultimately, I reviewed and covered the RVDataSat system and the portable HughesNet Gen5 tripod system (from MobileSatelliteInternet.com) because I believe these two were the satellite internet options for tiny houses on wheels. The former is better for continuous travel whilst the later is best for only occasional travel as explained earlier.

Both these systems’ respective vendors were clear regarding what was in their respective systems as well as how they worked. Additionally, that data plan(s) that came with either systems provides plenty of data for monthly usage. This was in contrast to the other low data capped satellite internet plans I found elsewhere.

Btw, if anyone is interested the buying the older HughesNet Spaceway and Jupiter I service packages, they are available at the Montana Satellite online vendor.

B.Satellite Internet Options for Stationary Tiny Houses

Compared to the difficulty of finding mobile satellite internet services, finding stationary satellite internet services is relatively easier. Ultimately, there are currently TWO major brands that sell satellite internet services for stationary homes. These brands are HughesNet, and EXEDE.

HughesNet is considered the current leader in satellite internet services followed by EXEDE. Not too long ago, Wild Blue was also a competitor in the home satellite internet market. However, back in 2009, Wild Blue was acquired ViaSat (which is the company behind EXEDE). Now those who purchase from Wild Blue can eventually “upgrade” to EXEDE plans. With the links to their sites, you should familiarize themselves with these companies’ plans & services as it is very likely that you will purchase from one of these providers if you are going to purchase a stationary satellite internet service.

Using BroadBandNow

If you have read my part-1 post on tiny home internet options, you would know how to use this site to find out which internet providers are available in the local ZIP.  However, this time I will refresh on how to use this site for finding out which satellite providers are available for the local ZIP area.

In this demonstration, one of the ZIP codes for the area around Fairfax, VA will be used:satellite internet providers search

After typing in the region’s ZIP code, the results page will show up. The results tabs showed as follows:
internet providers search results tabsThe satellite internet options are all near the bottom under the Residential tab. On a side note, service providers under the Mobile tab shouldn’t ever be considered since virtually all plans under this tab will be capped too low for full-time usage. If you want to know about viable wireless plans for full time usage; read my previous post which covers wireless internet options.

Back to the current results, the satellite providers found under the ZIP code 22030 were:
satellite internet providers search results

HughesNet and EXEDE are the brands you will most likely see when using BroadbandNow to search for local satellite internet providers. However, keep in mind that in some ZIP areas, there may be locally-exclusive satellite internet brands that is not one of the listed three major brands. Here is a list of satellite services listed in BroadbandNow. ; this list can be updated in the future.

As shown above, both providers provide 100% area coverage for ZIP code 22030. The listed speeds are 12-15 Mbps; which is consistent with what I said earlier about these providers using Ka-band to provide larger amounts of data for a smaller spot beam area. Regarding the customer ratings, these shouldn’t be taken at face value because satellite internet operates differently from conventional internet that most people are used to; hence, the lower ratings may have to do with mismatched expectations of satellite internet. This is why one should first have a proper understanding of how satellite internet operates and develop realistic expectations on what to expect before choosing a provider.

Lastly, there are buttons on the rightmost of each listed provider(which I circled in red). Clicking on it will toggle a drop-down list of of all available plans from that provider within the ZIP code.

From HughesNet:

Below are the (currently) available plans from HughesNet. I have underlined, boxed, and numbered all the relevant parts of each plan.

HughesNet Satellite Internet OptionsHughesNet Satellite Internet Options

First thing to notice is that most of the above plans’ monthly billing starts with a 2-year promotional rate. This means that the bold printed monthly rate only applies for the first 2 years; and then the price moves back up to the regular rate. Another thing to to note is that each plan has a contract term of 2 years; this means any buyer must purchase a plan for at least 2 years.

The next things to notice are the data rates and data caps. All the above plans’  data rates are up to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream; this makes sense given that these plans are under Ka-band spot beam technology.

The data caps vary between the plans. One should choose in accordance with one’s needs. Additionally, some of these plans also offer 50 GB/month of free data (only at 2-8 AM). It is advisable to set aside as much of the high data-rate activities as possible for 2-8 AM; so the lower data-rate activities(like internet browsing) can be used during the daylight hours where the data usage is more limited due to data caps.

Second to last, there are the setup and modem fees. Except for plan #5, all the other plans have free setup; I presume that the high monthly billing of the other data plans pay for the setup over the course of a 2-year contract term. Each of these plans also have a monthly modem fee of $14.99/month except for plan #5 which has a monthly fee of $19.00/month.

Finally, to the right of each plan are the phone number and order buttons if one wants to contract HugehNet and/or order the plan, respectively. One can even ask if its possible to purchase a personal modem instead to avoid having to currently rent the modem.

From EXEDE:
Below are the (currently) available plans from EXEDE. Like with HughesNet’s plans, I have underlined, boxed, and numbered all the relevant parts of each plan.

EXEDE Satellite Internet OptionsEXEDE Satellite Internet Options

To start with, the monthly billing listed above the plans(except plan #5) are also promotional rates. Whereas HughesNet promo rates lasts 2 years, EXEDE plans’ promo rates only last for short 3-months and then goes back to the regular rates. However, like HughesNet, the contract time of EXEDE plans is 2 years.

Next, the (downstream) data rates for most of the above plans are up 12-15 Mbps which is lower than the maximum 25 Mbps offered by HughesNet. However, these data rates are suitably high as EXEDE plans are also based on Ka-band spot beam technology.

Like other satellite internet plans, EXEDE plans also have monthly data caps with the highest data cap at 50 GB/month. The EXEDE plans also offer a “free zone” which offers unlimited data from 3am-6am. Personally, I think this free zone window is too small and the 2am-8am window of HughesNet’s plans is better.

Of the above plans, #4 is the standout because it offers unlimited data for up to 25 Mbps per month; but it is also notably expensive at $150.00/month at the regular rate. If one needs more than 50 GB/month but finds it inconvenient to utilize the “free zone” hours;  this maybe the best plan out of all the listed HughesNet and EXEDE plans.

Regarding setup, nearly all the  above plans offer free installation and the corresponding modem is rented out at $9.99/month. Only plan #5 charges a one-time installation cost with a modem already included. Lastly, there is only the contact phone numbers next of each plan(i.e. no order buttons) if one wants to learn more.

III.Recap & Ending

After reading all this post, one should by now have a good understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of having satellite internet. The main point being that while satellite internet is a viable option for both mobile and stationary tiny houses; mobile satellite internet options were particularly expensive and typically had low data capped plans.

Next, the basics of satellite system function and receiver antenna systems were covered. Primarily, consumer satellite systems use either Ku and Ka-spot beam technologies. This affected the data rates of satellite plans as well as their viability for mobile or stationary use for tiny houses.

Regarding receiver antenna systems, they can be categorized by type of mount used. A receiver antenna systems using an automated folding/turning mount is best suited for tiny houses constantly on the move since the automated mount would reposition the receiver dish at each new location. A receiver antenna system using a tripod mount are best suited for occasional travel due to the need of manual setup, antenna positioning, and storage. Lastly, antenna receiver systems that need fixed non-movable antenna mounts are best suited for stationary tiny homes. Additionally, there was a breakdown of the general overall prices of each of the three receiver antenna systems; systems with automated mounts are the most expensive.

Finally, in the later half, I covered what satellite internet options can be purchased for both mobile and stationary tiny homes. The RVDataSat system (with its automated folding mount) was recommended for constantly mobile tiny houses. The  portable HughesNet Gen 5 tripod-based system from mobileinternetsatellite.com was recommended for occasionally moving tiny houses. Lastly, for finding satellite internet for stationary tiny homes, the website, broadbandnow.com, can be used to find locally available satellite internet providers based on ZIP code.

With this ends the 3-part series on tiny home internet options. If you have read all three posts on the different tiny home internet options, you should be ready to make informed decisions regarding how to get internet for you current/future tiny home regardless of its mobility. Be sure to watch out for my next post.

Finally, If you liked this post, be sure to share(via social media bar) and subscribe for email updates(if you already haven’t). Leave a comment below regarding your thoughts, ideas, and experiences on getting satellite internet access.

Satellite Internet Providers Tiny Houses Pin

Image Attributions(You may skip this):

  • Header Image: (remixed) image from High Speed Experts website
  • Two Spot Beam Technologies (image): (remixed) diagram from this Mobile Internet Resource Center blog post
  • RVDataSat Coverage Map:                               from rvdatasat.com
  • RVDataSat Access Service Plans Labels:           from rvdatasat.com
  • RVDataSat RV Entertainment Plans Labels:     from rvdatasat.com
  • HughesNet Gen3 Spaceway and Gen4 Jupiter I coverage map: from this mobileinternetsatellite.com page.
  • HughesNet Gen5 Jupiter II coverage map: from this mobileinternetsatellite.com page.
  • HughesNet Gen5  Component Prices Tables: custom made
  • BroadbandNow.com Screenshots: Please follow the “Content Reuse and Attribution Policy” link from the bottom
  • Facebook/Twitter/Google+ Post Header Image: I own all copyright and usage rights to this image. Composite Image made up of:
  • Hidden Pinterest Image (only visible when using Pin-it button on post): I also own all copyright and usage rights to this image. This Pinterest pin is made of:
    • #1 of above Facebook/Twitter/Google+ post composite header image
    • #2 of above Facebook/Twitter/Google+ post composite header image
    • from an image carousel from the Little Yellow House WordPress blog.

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