4G vs WiMax vs Satellite, which Internet is better for rural areas

Internet access in rural areas continues to be the pending issue for most Autonomous Communities and network operators. Today, the three solutions that we can use to have a more or less stable connection to the network are based on wireless technologies, namely WiMax, 4G and satellite Internet . Each of these technologies has a series of advantages and disadvantages compared to its counterpart. But what type of Internet is better? We see it.

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4G Internet, availability and price as the main advantage

The Internet through the 4G connection makes use of the same network that we can connect to from our mobile phones. This type of connection is provided through the antennas that the different telecommunications companies install in different parts of the geography, for what the availability and the level of coverage depend on the signal that the operator offer in our province and / or Autonomous Community.

Router with 4G technology.

This is precisely one of the great advantages of 4G compared to other wireless technologies. Being an infrastructure that has been developed over the last decade, the availability of the network in rural areas is much higher . In fact, most operators offer rates for rural or field areas, with a more or less wide bandwidth and without data limits. We can also opt for the “unlimited” rates offered by some operators, although the contracting conditions are usually different (limited download of large files, responsible use of the network …).

Another advantage of the 4G network is that does not require a complex installation, since it only requires a router or a mobile phone to act as an access bridge and send the signal to other devices. Regarding the speed and stability of the network, the service depends entirely on the orography and the distance that we are with respect to the nearest antenna and not so much on the meteorological conditions, as it happens with other technologies.

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Through the coverage maps that companies such as Vodafone, Movistar and Orange make available to users, we can get an idea of ​​the connection conditions in our area. Before hiring the service, it is advisable to take a look at these maps to know the situation of the network in our province .

WiMax Internet, speed and bandwidth at the expense of stability

As its name indicates, the Internet Through WiMax technology, it is supplied through microwaves, that is, electromagnetic waves that travel from the point of emission (transmitting antenna) to the receiving point (receiving antenna). This is the reason why is required at least one antenna to get a stable internet connection .

Antenna used to connect the Internet via WiMax.

Due to the nature of the technology, most operators that offer this type of services usually correspond to local companies, since they are the ones that carry out the installation of the different antennas throughout a certain area. In fact, the range of this type of antenna usually reaches up to 30 kilometers if it is aimed directly at the receiving antenna.

If we focus on the advantages of WiMax technology, the main and most differential is in speed and bandwidth, with figures of up to 30 and 50 Mbps in some cases , bringing the experience closer to that of fiber optics. Bandwidth and latency also tend to be closer to what a wired connection offers. Unfortunately the stability of the network is impaired by adverse weather conditions : a simple drizzle, a gust of wind or a hailstorm can seriously affect the Internet connection, generally due to the deviation of the antenna.

The second disadvantage that the WiMax network supposes with respect to a conventional 4G network is precisely in the type of installation, since it requires an antenna with its corresponding router to function, with all the costs that this entails. And it is that in general, the monthly cost of this type of connection is usually higher , since it requires a series of more expensive infrastructures.

Satellite Internet, greater availability and coverage (but at a high cost)

For a while In this part, the Internet via satellite has become popular in recent years, especially with the arrival of Starlink, Elon Musk’s solution to provide connection to rural areas or areas with difficult access.

Satellite dish.

The operation of this technology is similar to the operation of the technology WiMax, while an antenna is required to obtain an Internet connection. The difference lies precisely in the type of antenna, since in this case we are dealing with parabolic antennas, which are generally much more expensive than antennas with a point-to-point connection. And it is at this point where its greatest disadvantage lies, since the monthly fee is usually much higher than that of rates with 4G networks or Internet via WiMax .

Regarding the speed of satellite Internet, the figures are similar to those that we find with WiMax technology , so the experience is similar to that of an ADSL cable or fiber optic network. Of course, due to the physical distance from the antenna to the emission source, the latency is usually much higher , something that can affect the playability of certain online titles. To this must be added that they have limited navigation, generally greater than 100, 150 or 200 GB.

Another of the points to be highlighted in satellite technology is related to the availability of network. By relying on satellites, the access map is much broader , while most territories can benefit from this type of connection. The problem is that they can suffer congestion when the network is saturated due to the simultaneous connection of other users, as well as due to weather conditions, which can affect the location of the satellite dish.

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