How Satellite Internet Technology Works

What is Satellite Internet?

Satellite Internet is one of many broadband connection types such as ADSL, VDSL, Fibre and 4G. Satellite internet is reliable, simple and fast. A satellite connection lets you use the internet just like any other standard connection that you are familiar with.

Users can browse, download and upload content online from their home or business. Most people who use this connection type tend to be rural based or living in a remote location.


Satellite internet technology is continually evolving and can now offer speeds much faster than traditional connection types.
how satellite internet works

How does Satellite internet work?

Satellite internet allows you to connect your chosen devices (e.g. computer) to the internet. Your computer sends a signal to your router and then to your modem, which goes to up to a specialised internet satellite dish on your roof. The satellite dish sends the signal to an orbiting satellite in space and then to your internet provider (ISP). The provider sends a signal back through the satellite to your dish, and back to your computer at home. This connection type is 100% wireless to your house, so you don’t need copper lines or phone lines for this to work.

Simply put, satellite internet is a viable connection type for getting internet to your home, farm or business.

Satellite, 4G, Wireless or ADSL, What’s The Difference?

Satellite internet is a broadband connection type that is a popular choice for rural households. This connection type is becoming increasingly popular due to its speed and versatility. However, satellite internet is not as fast as wired connections such as Fiber or VDSL, commonly found in urban cities. If you can get access to these connection types, then satellite internet is most likely not a good option for you.

It's best to use our broadband address checker tool to see if Satellite Internet is the right option for your location.

ADSL is one of the most common internet types in New Zealand. ADSL offers a variety of speeds depending on your location. Some households get fast ADSL and some get very slow ADSL. To find out if you have a fast or slow connection we recommend using an Broadband Speed Checker to find out your download speed.

If your download speed consistently shows to have a slow internet connection, should consider upgrading to Gravity satellite internet for a faster solution.

4G internet is a form of wireless broadband that grants internet access directly from a nearby cell phone tower. This is the preferred internet option for households with slow (or no) ADSL internet connection and who are in range of a stable 4G connection. A common issue when it comes to 4G internet is when your coverage is patchy, you are likely to experience a frustratingly unstable internet connection. Satellite internet is the best alternative to patchy (or no) 4G internet connection.

Wireless Internet options are commonly offered from rural broadband providers. This often comes in the form of a small wireless receiver placed on your roof. Please note that this small wireless dish on your roof is NOT a satellite dish. This receiver is a cellular dish that connects with a nearby tower site known as a ‘repeater site’. When it comes to wireless rural broadband, Gravity Broadband Plans are the preferred option by many users due to their faster speeds.

Gravity Satellite Broadband Coverage Map

Satellite Internet Coverage

Gravity’s satellite coverage includes all of the North Island, South Island, and Stewart Island. In addition to this, there is coverage for most of the smaller islands off the coast (e.g. Great Barrier Is, Kawau Is, etc). Gravity also has significant coverage over Australia and throughout most of the islands in the South Pacific.

Satellite internet relies on “line of sight”, so even if you are within coverage you still need to have line of sight to our satellite in the sky. Sometimes, although it is rare, there can be an obstacle between your house and the satellite - obstacles such as a mountain if you are in a valley, or a large tree nearby. We can help you with a line of sight test.

Pros and Cons of Satellite Internet


Satellite Internet Pros


Satellite Internet Cons
New Zealand Internet Speeds Compared by Connection Type

How Fast is Satellite Internet?

When compared to standard Rural ADSL internet speeds, a satellite connection is usually considered to be faster. Satellite Internet speeds are ideal for rural households. If you live in a city and want fast internet, you should opt for VDSL or Fibre. City users, such as businesses, tend to use satellite internet as a backup connection.

Satellite internet technology continues to evolve. Gravity is the first New Zealand satellite internet provider to offer speeds of up to 30Mbps (thanks to a brand new satellite that has been launched). These new innovative speeds are faster than standard ADSL internet speeds that users can get in the city!

Streaming Netflix On Satellite Internet

Video Streaming and Movies on Satellite Broadband

Satellite broadband is fast enough to allow video streaming such as YouTube and Netflix. Depending on your satellite internet speed, you may need to change to a lower video resolution in order to reduce buffering and wait times. Many online video players will auto optimise your video quality for you based on your connection speed. If you are on a slower satellite connection (like what our competitors offer) and want to watch high resolution video quality you are best to download the file (e.g. at night while everyone is asleep) and watch it offline. Gravity's new 2020 premium satellite internet speeds will let you stream HD video on the fly.

Did you know: Satellite internet can also help transform standard TVs into Smart TVs?


Gaming on Satellite Internet

Gaming on Satellite Broadband

Gravity does not recommend satellite broadband for high speed gaming - specifically for games that are real-time and ping/latency sensitive, sometimes known as twitch gameplay. Such games would include Fortnight, Call of Duty, FIFA 20, NBA 2K, Borderlands, etc. Simply put, these games will not perform well.

Other online games may perform perfectly well though - if in doubt, get in touch with our team.

Rain On Roof Satellite Internet

Weather and Performance

Generally speaking, satellite internet is largely unaffected by weather. Rain, hail or shine, your satellite internet dish should give you a steady and reliable connection nearly all of the time.

Some people will be familiar with the phrase “rain fade”. Generally, rain fade is something that satellite TV viewers may experience during heavy rain, whereby the signal is lost momentarily.

With satellite internet, the weather can sometimes have an affect on performance too.

For this reason, Gravity provides larger dishes to customers because the larger the dish, the less likely that performance will be impacted by storms.

Satellite Internet Latency

Satellite Internet Latency

There is a distance of about 35,000 kilometers between the dish on your roof and the satellite. For this reason, it takes a fraction of a second for information to make it from your dish, to the satellite, to earth and then back again! This round trip adds about half a second to the response times of requests. Latency is also sometimes referred to as ‘ping’.

Do not confuse latency with speed though, as these are two different things. Often, when people complain about latency, they are really complaining about the speed or reliability of the connection. For example, you would not be able to detect high latency while streaming Netflix.

Bandwidth and Costs

For more information around bandwidth and costs, please see our rural broadband plans page.

Getting Started with Satellite Internet

To get started with satellite internet, you need to choose a provider and a plan. Once you have chosen your plan, you will need to schedule a time to get an installer to come and get you setup. Satellite internet usually takes between one to four weeks to get setup. It requires a certified technician to install a specialised satellite internet dish on your roof. Once the internet dish is installed, it gets calibrated with an orbiting satellite (only a few hours) and then you are good to go.

See the full Gravity Internet Installation Process.