Line of sight internet cover image

Line of Sight Internet – Better than Fibre and Should you Choose it?

The technologies of connecting people to the internet have been diversifying, trying to suit the requirement of everyone. There is 5G for the mobile network, there are copper broadband and the latest fiber optics. An often ignored method called Line of Sight internet is often ignored because of its limited relevancy. But what is it? And how does it differ from the traditional methods of connecting to the internet? Let’s explore everything about Line of sight internet. 

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Line of Sight internet, what is it?

When your computer or any device is connected to the internet, like it is right now, it is receiving signals from your Wi-Fi router either wireless or via a cable. But where does the router gets its signal from? This is where most of the technologies differ and line of sight the internet does something different.

In the line of sight internet connection, a mast is used as the distributor of the signal. What is a mast? It is the main hub which is connected to a satellite that receives the internet connection and gives it to targeted locations. So to understand the line of sight internet, there are two things to keep in mind, the hub and the nodes.

The hub or the mast is where the signals for the internet comes from. The hub then transfers this signal to a node. The node is placed in the building of the house where the router is (or where you want the internet connection). Hence, there are no wires or cables needed to transmit the data.

Benefits of Line of Sight internet
It is fast, offers better connectivity and faster to install. Image: Techcity times

What’s different about Line of sight internet?

As the name suggests, the connection works by placing the node and the mast (hub) in a line of sight. This means that there should not be any object between the two. They must be visible to each other for better signal transmission. And this is both the good thing and the bad thing about it. 

First the good thing. Since the node (or your house) is directly in the line of sight of the hub, the data comes without any obstructions and smoothly. This offers a very low latency or ping. What’s the latency? It is the amount of time it takes a command to register. So if you were typing something on the internet and you pressed a letter on the keyboard, if the latency is high, it would take a longer amount of time for the letter to be registered. 

Usually latency is a primary factor for gaming and other interactive functions, but still, having an internet connection with low latency is desirable. So latency is good, but what about the connection quality? It is great too. 

Since the connection is directly between the node and the hub, the connection quality is great too. There are no cables or wires involved, so nothing to worry about connection disruption due to faulty elements. All these things make the line of sight internet quite desirable. But like with everything nice, there are always some drawbacks and LOS Internet is not an exception. 

A router

The Drawbacks of LOS internet

The first and most noticeable drawback of the line of sight internet is that it requires the hub to be in the direct line sight of the node or the dish that is placed on the roof of your house. The environment where the node is to be situated is not always favorable and that presents a challenge in the installation process. 

The other issue is obstructions. Since there are no wires and the data is transmitted via low-powered radio signals, anything in between the transmission can disrupt the signals. So trees, vehicles, people, buildings, etc are all an issue. This is why the node and the hub are placed at a higher place. 

While the absence of wires and cables does reduce the dependency on hardware and the risk of fault in them, during stormy weather and heavy rain, the signal from the hub does suffer a bit. This is so common that it has a name; Rain fade, like satellite TV.

People using phones

Why people choose Line of sight internet over Fibre optics?

The telecommunications industries have seen the rising popularity of the line of sight internet. While the technology of optic fiber internet is advancing, this is still fairly new and requires a lot of investment. So demand is a major element in the spread of optic fiber internet. 

In small towns or villages where the companies aren’t willing to invest millions of dollars (or hundreds of thousands at least) for a few people to get the expensive optic fiber. Optic fiber needs an extensive infrastructure of optic wires all placed underground (since they have to be placed straight) and the whole process is quite expensive and hence, only found in major cities in certain areas. This is where line of sight internet comes to play.

Why Line of sight internet is great for villages 

Line of sight internet is comparatively easy to install since there is just the mast and the nodes to be installed. And the less expensive and easier installation allows companies to offer cheap prices, which works great in areas where people aren’t earning thousands of dollars per month. 

LOS internet connection performs poorly in crowded spaces with a large building. But villages rarely have these elements, making it a better candidate for LOS internet. 

A small company working from a rural area faces a lot of issues since it is difficult to find a high-speed broadband connection. This can be solved by LOS internet. So for people living in rural/scarcely populated areas can be benefited from LOS internet.

Should you get LOS internet?

Considering the benefits and drawbacks of the line of sight internet connection, you must have understood whether it is viable for your home or not. But in case you are still on the fence, here are a few more points to elaborate on the subject. 

When it comes to installation times, some companies offer express installations which can be completed within 24 hours, but the standard time is about 3-8 days. There aren’t going to be any cable pulling into your house other than just the cable to connect your router. The connection is highly reliable and is very similar to the dish network.

Since the data is sent over wireless waves, the speed of transmission is faster than wired connections. For LOS, the speed is about 190,000 miles per hour compared to 124,000 miles per hour for a wired network.

Rain fade can disrupt the signals. Image: Techcity times

Another advantage of having a line of sight internet is its low maintenance requirements. There aren’t many parts to take care of, just the node and your router. As with any other internet connection, the router signal can be split for different devices to use. There will be a speed reduction if the connection is being shared, like every other connection.

The speed offered by LOS internet ranges from 10 Mbps to 2 Gbps. The Gbps speeds are usually for commercial users. The speed offers may vary depending upon your internet provider.

Is it safe and secure?

An important concern people have whether it is a line of sight internet connection or any type of internet connection is about security. No one wants to be spied upon. LOS internet is just as safe and just as vulnerable as any other type of internet connection

What the users have to ensure is asking about the encryption of the connection and making sure that their network isn’t exposed. The internet service provider usually briefs the customers about the safety and security features of the connection. So if you are preparing to get one, make sure to add this topic to the discussion with the technician.

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