Fiber vs. Satellite vs. DSL

Photo of fiber-optic strands

How are fiber, satellite, and DSL internet different?

There are several different ways you can receive an internet connection — via fiber, satellite, DSL, fixed wireless, or cable. Each technology has its pros and cons, and many internet providers offer more than one internet technology (delivery) option. Today we’re going to focus on the differences between fiber, satellite, and DSL. Here’s the breakdown:

Fiber-optic broadband

Usually just shortened to fiber internet or simply fiber, fiber-optic broadband internet consists of fiber optic lines that are made up of small strands of glass inside plastic cables, each about 1/10th the size of a single human hair. These lines transmit data using pulses of light that travel at nearly the speed of light. Today, it’s state-of-the-art technology and is considered by many to be future-proof.

Pros of fiber broadband:

  • Fiber broadband offers multi-gig speeds. The fastest of any technology.
  • The internet signal doesn’t degrade over distance like other technologies can.
  • Lag and latency are the lowest with fiber.
  • No data limits!
  • Fiber provides the highest resolution for streaming and gaming.
  • Future-proof — fiber is easily scalable to meet future needs.

Cons of fiber broadband:

  • Fiber isn’t yet available in all areas.


Satellite broadband involves satellite dishes in three locations: at the internet service provider’s hub, on a satellite in space, and a final dish at your home. The internet signal is then transmitted from the provider’s hub to the satellite and then to your home — and every request you make for a new web page or to send an email reverses that route.

Pros of satellite internet:

  • Often available in hard-to-reach rural areas where conventional broadband infrastructure hasn’t yet been made available.
  • Satellite speed and service are gradually improving as more providers enter the market.

Cons of satellite internet:

  • It can’t reach certain areas, such as deep canyons or heavily wooded areas.
  • Satellite generally has very high latency (or lag time) as the signal needs to make a round trip between Earth and space.
  • Weather and environmental issues can affect speed and connectivity.
  • Many carriers have data limits.


Similar to the way the internet was delivered in “the old days,” DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) internet delivers a high-speed connection to your home through a wired phone wall jack on an existing telephone network. DSL works within frequencies that aren’t used by wired or landline phones, so you can still use the internet even while making phone calls.

Pros of DSL:

  • A dedicated line and bandwidth mean your neighbors’ use won’t affect you.
  • There are generally no new wires needed for service, as DSL runs over traditional phone lines.

Cons of DSL:

  • DSL is still much slower than many other internet options.
  • Since this service runs over a phone line, you’ll most likely be required to subscribe to phone service.
  • Speeds can be dependent on your proximity to the main DSL hub (the closer you are, the faster your service will be).
  • Some DSL providers implement data caps.

As you can see, there’s a big difference between fiber and other technologies. Fiber is the best internet technology — now and for the future. Revolution’s 100% fiber-to-the-home internet will keep up with you and your family’s growing internet needs.

Have questions? Give us a call, send us an email, or stop by. Our local, friendly staff is happy to answer your questions.

If you or someone from your household hasn’t registered your interest in Revolution Broadband, please click here.

Revolution. Made better by being local!