Project Kuiper, a new low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet service created by Amazon, will be launching at least 1,500 satellites over the following five years. This is great news for those who live in rural or remote areas, as well as people who need to travel for work (or even for fun).
But, is satellite internet the best you can do if you don’t live in a remote area? Or should you invest in an internet service that offers DSL and Fiber?
Here’s what you need to know about Amazon’s Kuiper and EarthLink and how they compare.
Internet Providers and Services: What to Know
Before we dive into how Kuiper stacks up against EarthLink, let’s discuss what these internet servers provide and how they work.
What is Satellite Internet and How Does it Work?
Satellite internet is slower than fiber and cable, but unlike these other options, it is fairly accessible in each of the 50 states and is usually one of the only options for those in remote areas. However, satellite internet can be expensive, due to the need for certain equipment and the expenses that businesses have for offering it. Phone connections, fiber optics, and cable networks are not necessary for satellite internet.
Here’s how it works: a satellite service provider places satellites in Earth’s orbit. The ISP uses a receiving dish to pick up the signal once it is broadcast through one of those satellites in low- or high-Earth orbit. The receiver is placed in your home or place of business in a location with the best sky view, and install a modem to that dish to boost the signal, which helps turn the incoming signal into a useful internet connection.
DSL Internet: How It Works
A digital subscriber line, often known as DSL or a digital subscriber loop, is a type of internet connection that transmits and receives data and traffic via telephone lines using voice frequency. The same cables you use for regular telephone lines are used for this high-speed connection.
High-bandwidth content, such as multimedia or video, is transmitted to users of DSL using modems that make use of their existing phone lines. It offers the general public dedicated, point-to-point network connections. You can use both your phone line and the internet simultaneously with a DSL connection. This is primarily utilized in homes and small businesses that require both internet and phone connection. DSL connections are a common option for customers since they are easily accessible, in contrast to optic fibers, which are typically only available in urban areas and tech hubs.
Two pieces of hardware are needed for DSL, one at the customer’s end and the other at the internet service provider, phone company, or other DSL service providers. The customer’s location has a DSL transceiver. To accept client connections, the DSL network operator carries a DSL Access Multiplexer (DSLAM).
What is Fiber Internet?
We’ve talked about Satellite and DSL internet, now let’s discuss Fiber! Broadband connections that use fiber-optic technology can have lag-free rates of up to 940 Megabits per second (Mbps). Fiber-optic internet is also known as fiber internet or, simply, “fiber.”
The system makes use of fiber-optic cable, which astonishingly has a data transmission rate of up to 70% of the speed of light. Moreover, fiber-optic cables are less vulnerable to extreme weather than other older cable types, reducing disruptions. Moreover, it successfully withstands electrical interference. Fiber is the best type of connection for many people to connect several devices at once.
Optical fibers and the so-called “last mile” of the fiber-optic network are two essential parts of this cutting-edge technology, which is made up of many different parts. Optical fibers have a very small diameter of 125 microns or a little larger than a strand of human hair. To create cables, many of these fibers are bundled together (not to be confused with coaxial cables, which are made of copper).
These incredibly quick light pulses are transformed into electrical output that your devices can utilize once they arrive at their destination. The optical network terminal, a specialized piece of equipment, does this and transmits the signal to the user via an Ethernet connection. The “last mile” is the distance between the main fiber network line and the end user (though it is often much shorter than a mile).
To put it simply, fiber is incredibly fast and is usually one of the best options to use unless you live rurally.
Amazon’s Kuiper vs. EarthLink: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Download Speed||TBA||1 Gbps|
|Upload Speed||TBA||1 Gbps|
|Cost Per Month||TBA||$59.99/month|
Amazon’s Kuiper vs. EarthLink: What’s the Difference?
Let’s break the major differences between Kuiper and EarthLink.
Sadly, since the service was just given permission by the FCC to launch its satellites, Kuiper hasn’t even started to launch yet. It likely won’t be until the end of 2023 or early 2024. So, it’s not available and most likely won’t launch everywhere right away.
EarthLink, on the other hand, is available in all 50 states. However, depending on your location, you may not qualify for their fiber internet. You may only have access to their DSL plans. These are significantly less reliable and slower.
Download and Upload Speeds
Since Kuiper hasn’t launched yet, we won’t know their upload and download speeds for at least a year or so. But Amazon, who is running Kuiper, notes that they plan to have upload speeds of up to 10 Mbps and download speeds of up to 400 Mbps. Not bad, but certainly not as fast as the fiber internet that EarthLink provides.
If you qualify for EarthLink’s fiber internet connection, you’ll get 1 Gbps (or 1,000 Mbps) for both download and upload speeds. However, if you don’t, your download and upload speeds may be slow due to the DSL service, which only offers 400 Mbps download speeds and 8 Mbps upload speeds, a significant downgrade.
Since Kuiper hasn’t announced their monthly service costs, it’s difficult to say if the monthly fees will be on par with EarthLink. However, Kuiper does say that the service will be “affordable” compared to Starlink, which charges $110 a month.
EarthLink charges between $49.95/mo and $99.95/mo for their DSL internet service, and around $60 for their Fiber internet. This will depend on your area and also which plan you choose, but that still seems significantly less than what satellite internet providers charge.
Now, let’s talk about the potential costs for installation and hardware that you’ll be expected to pay.
Although Amazon hasn’t disclosed its Kuiper prices, industry insiders estimate that each dish would cost between $200 and $400 for customers. So, you should budget at least that amount. This does not take into account if installation fees will be charged.
EarthLink will charge you $8.95 each month for their modem/router rental, and it’s not optional. Unlike other internet services, you can’t bring your own modem. You’ll also need to pay for installation, which can cost between $99 and $199. And since you need to sign a contract for their service, canceling the contract will come with a termination fee of $200.
With satellite internet, you’ll need a dish, electricity, and a modem. Amazon plans on selling three different dish options, ranging from $199-$599, but details haven’t been confirmed.
EarthLink requires that you have a modem and router. You’ll also need an Ethernet card or onboard Ethernet connector if you’re using DSL. These have to be purchased or rented via EarthLink and range from $10 monthly to $149 to purchase.
Fiber vs. Satellite Service
Next, let’s talk about the service you’ll receive based on if you choose Kuiper or EarthLink.
First, satellite internet isn’t as easily interrupted, which makes it great for rural and remote areas. This is where Kuiper will shine. However, fiber internet tends to be much faster and cheaper. This is great if you live in a city and just need simple internet access. This is why EarthLink may be the better option.
So, which choice you use will depend on your location and how much you’re willing to spend.
Amazon Kuiper vs. EarthLink: 5 Must-Know Facts
- The Keiper satellites from Amazon have not yet taken off. They’ll probably debut at the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024.
- Amazon announced on October 26, 2021, that Project Kuiper will collaborate with Verizon to offer 4G/LTE and 5G service to underdeveloped areas around the world. Thanks to Kuiper’s satellites, Verizon will be able to extend its 4G/LTE and 5G networks to far locations.
- EarthLink is available to around 78% of the U.S. population via DSL and Fiber.
- EarthLink offers upward of 5 Gig service, one of the fastest Fiber internet options available currently.
- EarthLink is the second largest Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Amazon’s Kuiper vs. EarthLink: Which One is Better?
At this time, you are unable to use or register for Kuiper. You should give Amazon time to fix any flaws even after they launch so that they can function properly. If you don’t live in areas with poor internet coverage, you may not even have to use a satellite internet provider, which is where EarthLink comes in. As of now, the only choice you have is EarthLink, and it’s affordable, fast, and easy to use, which many customers already love.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©metamorworks/Shutterstock.com.