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Amazon’s Kuiper vs. DSL: How Do They Compare?

wi-fi 6e vs 5g

Amazon’s Kuiper vs. DSL: How Do They Compare?

How do Amazon’s Kuiper and DSL stack up against each other? Are you trying to plan and make an informed decision before choosing between Amazon’s Kuiper and a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)? We understand! Today we’ll do a thorough analysis, looking at Amazon’s Kuiper and DSL to help you understand the best choice for you.

A brand new rocket design carrying two Amazon Kuiper satellites will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Station within the next few months. Amazon’s Kuiper satellite constellation will usher in a new competitor for the other high-speed internet providers.

How do Amazon’s Kuiper and DSL stack up? Is DSL a better choice for you instead of Amazon’s Kuiper? Before you tear apart your wall and yank out your telephone line (AKA DSL), let’s dig into this a bit. The answer to the question may reside in the nitty-gritty details.

Satellite vs. Dedicated Service Line: A Quick Primer

The SPACEWAY satellite was placed into Geostationary Orbit in 2005 when HughesNet kicked off the Satellite Internet connectivity era. Low Earth Orbit is becoming busier each day as more and more Starlink Satellites go into operation. Amazon’s Kuiper satellites will be put into Low Earth orbit beginning in Q2 2023.

Geostationary Orbit

Satellites placed into Geostationary Orbit reside approximately 22,000 miles above the surface of the Earth. The high elevation allows a broad “view” of the Earth to send and receive signals.

  • Example: If you hold your hand right up to your right eyeball, all you can see is a tiny portion of your hand. When you move your hand to an arm’s distance from your eye, you can see your hand, plus a lot more. That’s the principle of a Geostationary Orbit Satellite. The high altitude of the Satellite provides a gigantic coverage window.

Positive Aspects of Geostationary Satellites :

Geostationary Orbiting Satellites, such as HughesNet or Vissat, provide internet service to remote geographic locations that don’t have an existing internet connection.

Negative Aspects of Geostationary Satellites:

The Satellite’s high altitude equates to a signal traveling a very long distance, in this case 22,000 miles up and 22,000 miles back down. The long distances create significant signal latency. Latency is the delay between sending a request for data and receiving a response. Geostationary satellites have latency ranges between 450 and 700ms. Basically, you’re not exactly in the carrier pigeon range, but you’re getting close. You can’t use Geostationary Satellites for video conferencing, telehealth, self-driving vehicles, at-home connected medical device monitoring, or a smart utility grid.

Low Earth Orbit

Satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) are approximately 340 miles above the Earth’s surface. LEO satellites have lower latency (faster). Faster latency is due to the distance between the source (Earth) and the Satellite being much shorter than Geostationary Satellites’ distance to Earth. StarLink users report latency times that range between 25 and 50 milliseconds.

  • Example: Place your hand three inches from your right eye. You have a MUCH smaller field of view than when you placed your hand an arm’s distance from your eye. The smaller field of view for the satellites equals less signal coverage. Many satellites are placed into orbit to compensate for this smaller field of view and decreased signal coverage.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted approval for Amazon’s plan of 3,236 Kuiper satellites.
  • Starlink has about 3,800 satellites in Low Earth Orbit. The FCC has approved Starlink for up to 7,500 satellites.

Low Earth Orbit Satellite Positive Aspects:

  • Good coverage
  • High-speed
  • HUGE industrial relevance
  • Inexpensive (compared to geostationary satellites) to launch into orbit

Low Earth Orbit Satellite Negative Aspects:

  • High consumer-level cost entry fee. It will cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars to get into the game.
    •  How will Amazon or Starlink provide regionally affordable rates? American consumers may only blink once or twice over an initial cash outlay of a few thousand dollars. The same cost may be insurmountable in different parts of the world.
  •  Satellites have a shorter life span due to increased atmospheric drag.

Direct Service Line Internet

A few words about DSL before we dig into it:

  • It’s slowly dying in the United States.
  • AT&T already pulled the plug.
  • Verizon is quietly shifting resources away from DSL to FiberOptics. 
  • While DSL may be concluding its journey in the US, the United Nations still considers DSL a necessity as an affordable solution to both voice and internet connection. It may disappear from the American landscape, but DSL will still be around for a bit.

Now that we’ve shared that little piece of information, let’s talk about DSL.

What is DSL?

A Direct Service Line transmits data from your house/business using the existing copper telephone line. The data is transmitted directly from a “hub” to “you”. The only slowdown on the network is you. The “D” in dedicated means that it’s your dedicated line.

Why is DSL good?

DSL provides access to geographic locations that lack access to a fiber optic or cable internet.

  • DSL is the cheapest method to connect to the internet. It uses existing telephone lines.
  • No need for expensive equipment. One router, and you’re good to go!
  • It was (past tense) the only method for remote locations to have a higher (than a phone line) internet connection.
  • Good latency values, 11 to 40ms.

Why is DSL going away?

Remote geographic locations still exist, and that hasn’t changed at all. What has changed is the additional broadband internet connectivity methods.

  1. Starlink and the soon-to-be-released Amazon Kuiper will offer much faster Satellite service to remote internet consumers.
  2. 5G provides lower latencies and higher upload/download speeds.
  3. Fiberoptics and cable internet connections provide faster connections.

However, if you have specific use scenarios, DSL might still be your best choice. Let’s compare side-by-side to see how Amazon’s Kuiper and DSL stack up.

Amazon’s Kuiper vs. DSL: Side-by-Side Comparison

Download SpeedUpload SpeedCost Per Month
Amazon Kuiper
ultra-compact100 MbpsTBDTBD
Standard400 MbpsTBDTBD
pro1 GbpsTBDTBD
DSL
DSL-Modem Wi-Fi5-50 Mbps10-500 Mbps$45-$130
CenturyLinkUp to 100Mbps≦50% of Download speed $50/mo.
AT&T Internet 100100Mbps≦50% of Download speed $60.00 /mo
Verizon (Tier 3)3.1-7 Mbps≦50% of Download speed $69.99 /mo
How do they compare?
Decent Speeds
NETGEAR Cable Modem Wi-Fi Router C6250 300 Mbps
$92.99
  • COMPATIBLE WITH Cox, Xfinity by Comcast, and Spectrum
  • NOT COMPATIBLE WITH AT&T, Verizon, DISH, CenturyLink, DirecTV, DSL providers, and any service bundled with voice
  • CARRIER SPEEDS: Xfinity (up to 200Mbps), Spectrum (up to 300Mbps), Cox (up to 150Mbps).
  • 1500 square feet wireless coverage, 25 connected devices, at a speed of up to 1600Mbps.
  • Comes with 1 USB port and 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 08:43 pm GMT

Amazon’s Kuiper vs. DSL: What’s the Difference?

There are quite a few differences between DSL and Amazon’s Kuiper.

Availability

It’s good to have a product to sell; in this case, as of this moment, Amazon has no product to sell.

Amazon’s Kuiper

  • The Kuiper product line isn’t ready for consumer rollout today. Or later this year. Or even (most likely) prepared for a wide-scale rollout in late 2024. Therefore, it’d be best to expect a Kuiper in your house later in 2025.
  • United Launch Alliance (ULA) plans to launch its newest rocket, the Vulcan Centaur, with Amazon’s payload at an undefined date after May 4th, 2023. The Vulcan will launch the prototype satellites into LEO.
  • The Vulcan Centaur is a new rocket technology. The Kuiper Satellites are a new technology as well. After an initial technology shakedown, Amazon will launch Kuiper satellites as fast as possible. Amazon has a minimum commitment to the FCC to have launched and operational over 50% (1,618) of the satellites by July 2026.

Once Amazon has enough Kuiper Satellites in LEO, they can begin supporting broadband data transmission. Only then will there be a product to sell.

DSL

It’s not sexy or glamorous, but most older homes and apartments have a phone line with copper wiring that will support DSL. It’s available today. The wire is masquerading as the phone line in the wall at your house. However, even if DSL is available in your location, that doesn’t necessarily make it a good choice for you.

Purpose

The primary purposes of Amazon Kuiper and DSL are similar, but still different.

Amazon Kuiper 

The Kuiper satellites constellation will consist of thousands of satellites orbiting in Low Earth Orbit. The Kuiper satellites orbiting in a dense concentration will allow for high-speed broadband access to locations lacking internet access.

  • Are you enjoying high-speed internet access while streaming TikTok, playing multi-player Raid: Shadow Legends, and reading this article right now? You might not be a candidate for Amazon’s Kuiper Satellites. You’ve already got a good connection!
  • Are you reading this on a painfully slow DSL connection? You dream of streaming a movie, playing a game, or working from home. The Amazon Kuiper may be for you.

DSL

A Direct Service Line uses the preexisting telephone infrastructure to provide internet access. It was a good choice ten years ago, but today it needs more steam as consumers expect more and more from their internet connections.

  • If you live in a remote area that lacks cable, fiber optic, or satellite internet connection options, DSL might be a good choice for you.

Price Point

DSL is a lot cheaper than Amazon’s Kuiper.

Required Equipment Cost PriceMonthly Use Fee 
Amazon Kuiper
Ultra-compactMaterially less than Standard ModelApprox ≦ $110*
Standard$400+ MarkupApprox ≦ $200*
ProUnknownApprox ≦ $500*
DSL
DSL-Modem Wi-Fi Cable-Modem Wi-Fi $90 (One time purchase)Monthly Rental $51
CenturyLink$60 (One time purchase)$50/mo.
AT&T Internet 100$50 (One time purchase)$60.00/mo
Verizon (Tier 3)$60 (One time purchase)$69.99/mo
Cost Analysis Amazon’s Kuiper vs. DSL

*Prices have yet to be released for Kuiper satellite consumer equipment hardware. Ditto for the monthly price.

Best AT&T DSL
Actiontec/Qwest PK5000 Wireless DSL Modem
$28.99
  • 24Mbps download speed support
  • WPA2, WPA, Firewall, and WEP security support
  • Two wireless antennas provide extra signal coverage
  • 1 phone port and 4 ethernet ports included
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 08:43 pm GMT
Best Verizon DSL
WiFi Router- AC2100 Dual-Band Smart Wi-Fi Router
$49.99
  • 300Mbps at 2.4GHz or 1733Mbps at 5GHz maximum speed
  • allows 4 devices at the same time
  • App control included
  • WPS and WPA2-PSK security support
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 08:47 pm GMT

Trying to determine Amazon’s Kuiper cost structure is similar to speculating what’s inside a dark room. Our cost estimates are based on Amazon’s single price comment and basic common sense.

  • Amazon said their manufacturing cost for the Kuiper Standard model is approximately $400. Expect the price to stay below Starlink’s $599 residential equipment fee.

Hardware Cost Evaluation

  • An older DSL Cable Modem will run about $50-$60. There is no reason you need to pay for a screaming fast Cable Modem for a standard DSL connection that will never reach 300Mpbs speeds.
  • The mid-level Amazon Kuiper hardware will cost at least $400.

Monthly Use Fee Cost Evaluation

  • AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. The approximate cost is $45-$120.
  • Amazon Kuiper Approximate cost $100-$500.

Head-to-Head Cost Evaluation

Despite being a workhorse for several decades, DSL is slowly heading the way of the dinosaur because our appetite for high-speed internet access is increasing. If speed isn’t a concern, DSL will work just fine. Yet, if speed weren’t an issue, you’d be reading this (and we’d be writing) on a dial-up modem.

Starlink vs Amazon's Project Kuiper
Satellite internet like Amazon’s Kuiper is optimal for people in rural areas and the developing world.

Amazon’s Kuiper vs. Cable: 7 Must-Know Facts

  • Amazon’s Kuiper satellites have yet to launch! The target launch date for two satellites is after May 4th, 2023.
  • Kepier testing will occur throughout 2023 and 2024.
  • Amazon expects to begin minimal consumer testing late in 2024.
    • Amazon expects to have 3,236 satellites in orbit by the end of 2028.
  • Amazon is required to have 1,618 satellites functional and in orbit by July 2026.
  • In a head-to-head latency comparison, it’s almost a wash between DSL (11 to 40 milliseconds) and Low Earth Orbit Satellites (25 to 50 milliseconds.)
    • DSL latency is faster than Kuiper (theoretical values based on Starlink data). Even though the latency is shorter, the overall throughput is slower.
  • DSL is significantly cheaper than Amazon’s Kuiper Product Line.
    • The telephone infrastructure for DSL is already built and functional. You need to purchase a $50 DSL modem.
  • Kuiper home components require a chunk of change ($400+) up front for home use.

Amazon’s Kuiper vs. DSL: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

At this exact moment, Amazon has zero satellites in orbit to support the Kuiper Project. In short, the discussion isn’t a question of which product (Amazon’s Kuiper vs. DSL) you’d like to use, but a question of which product you can use. DSL is available right now (in select areas) and available for purchase. While fascinating, the Amazon Kuiper product line isn’t available for purchase. We recommend sticking with your tried-and-true DSL connection. We’re as excited as the next person to start using Amazon’s Kuiper products. But as we’ve noted, we’ve got a bit of a wait on our hands.

Based on Amazon’s statements, consumers should expect to have a Kuiper product available for home use in 2025. Nonetheless, when the product line is available for purchase, Amazon’s Kuiper products will far surpass DSL.

  1. NETGEAR Cable Modem Wi-Fi Router C6250 300 Mbps
    $92.99
    • COMPATIBLE WITH Cox, Xfinity by Comcast, and Spectrum
    • NOT COMPATIBLE WITH AT&T, Verizon, DISH, CenturyLink, DirecTV, DSL providers, and any service bundled with voice
    • CARRIER SPEEDS: Xfinity (up to 200Mbps), Spectrum (up to 300Mbps), Cox (up to 150Mbps).
    • 1500 square feet wireless coverage, 25 connected devices, at a speed of up to 1600Mbps.
    • Comes with 1 USB port and 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/17/2024 08:43 pm GMT
  2. Actiontec/Qwest PK5000 Wireless DSL Modem
    $28.99
    • 24Mbps download speed support
    • WPA2, WPA, Firewall, and WEP security support
    • Two wireless antennas provide extra signal coverage
    • 1 phone port and 4 ethernet ports included
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/17/2024 08:43 pm GMT
  3. WiFi Router- AC2100 Dual-Band Smart Wi-Fi Router
    $49.99
    • 300Mbps at 2.4GHz or 1733Mbps at 5GHz maximum speed
    • allows 4 devices at the same time
    • App control included
    • WPS and WPA2-PSK security support
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/17/2024 08:47 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I install Amazon's Kuiper satellite high-speed internet access at my house today?

Nope. Amazon plans to send two prototype Kuiper Satellites into Low Earth Orbit in Q2 2023. If all goes well, they will launch more satellites throughout 2023 and 2024.

Can I order DSL today?

Yes, DSL has been available for approximately 20 years. If you have no other options (cough cough, “Starlink” cough cough), DSL is an excellent investigation route. Your upfront fee will be minimal. Please don’t sign any long-term contract with the DSL carrier. Technology is changing fast.

Will the Kuiper system be faster than DSL?

Yes, expect a middle-of-the-road (Standard Kuiper model) of 400 Mbps. An excellent DSL connection is 100 Mbps.

If you read the fine print when shopping for a DSL connection, you’ll find that some carriers open the discussion with “DSL” data but transition to “Fiber Optic” data. It’s significantly faster and more expensive. Keep your eyes peeled.

I live in the city. Should I consider Amazon's Kuiper?

Nope. Unless Amazon offers a fantastic cost incentive, stick with another high-speed broadband access option.

I'm so far out of the city my cell phone doesn't even work. Am I in a good location for Amazon's Kuiper?

Yes, you’re in a great location. YOU are the person that Kuiper and Starlink want to talk to!

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