Over the last year satellite and cellular Internet service providers have rolled out newer, much better services. Although some of us subscribe to these services, I am still trying as hard as ever to bring cable, DSL or fixed wireless Internet to our neighborhood. Why bother, though? Why not settle for the newer satellite and cellular services? Because of availability, cost, and value.

There are a number of people for whom satellite and cellular are good options. If you get a good signal and have only 1 or 2 light Internet users in the house then these plans work well. For others, they may not work out so well.

First, availability. There are many in our area who cannot get a good cellular or satellite signal. From reports in the neighborhood, about a third to a half of us cannot get a good signal which leads to poor service.

Next, cost. A “typical” satellite or cellular plan costs around $80 per month. A typical cable or DSL plan costs about $40 per month and a typical fixed wireless plan around $60. So satellite and cellular customers pay up to twice what they should.

Finally, value. What do you get for your money? Here satellite and cellular services fall very short. They have very low data caps, limiting the amount you can use the Internet in a given month without paying extra fees.

Data usage is measured in Gigabytes per month. Limits are 5 to 10 Gigabytes for cellular plans and 7.5 to 25 Gigabytes for satellite plans. Above that you have to pay overage fees, typically $10 per Gigabyte. In contrast, DSL, cable and fixed wireless caps are 100 Gigabytes or more per month.

The “average” broadband household in the U.S. uses about 28 Gigabytes per month. Even with the most favorable pricing, the average household would pay $260 a month with a cellular plan or $160 a month with a satellite plan with their overage fees.

If you have only 1 or 2 light Internet users doing basic web browsing and email, you’ll likely stay within the monthly data limits. If you have 3 or more users or want to take advantage of services like NetFlix and YouTube or listen to Internet radio throughout the day then you’ll likely pay overage fees every month.

So I will continue to try and bring true broadband Internet to our neighborhood, because we need more alternatives than just cellular and satellite.