VPN and Satellite Internet Service Compatibility

Using VPN over your satellite internet service comes with challenges

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Getty Images/Denis Scott

Virtual private networking and satellite internet technologies were not designed to work together. Two technical limitations of satellite internet service—high latency and slow upload speed—greatly affect the performance of a VPN.

Technical Limitations of Satellite Service for VPN

  • Virtual private networks require a connection with high bandwidth and low-latency to function efficiently. Satellite internet services normally suffer high latencies due to the long distance satellite signals must travel.
  • Most satellite internet services tend to support low upstream bandwidth. Specifically, satellite bandwidth for uploads is much slower than for downloads and not much faster than that of dial-up internet services. VPNs demand high bandwidth for both uploads and downloads.

Challenges for Satellite and VPN Compatibility

Despite these limitations, it is technically possible to use most VPN solutions with most satellite internet services. The following caveats apply:

  • The overall performance of a VPN connection over satellite is poor. VPN over satellite often performs at the speed of a dial-up internet connection.
  • Satellite providers generally do not offer technical support or service guarantees to VPN users.
  • Satellite providers commonly deploy a performance boosting technique called "IP spoofing" as part of their service. This IP spoofing interferes with the ability to establish VPN connections. For VPNs to work with satellite Internet, the provider must have some provision to bypass IP spoofing for VPN connections.
  • The same compatibility issues that exist between VPNs and personal firewalls, and between VPNs and internet connection sharing software apply for satellites as with other types of internet service.

To determine if a given VPN client or protocol works with a given satellite service, consult the satellite provider.

While they may not offer technical support, providers usually list general compatibility information about VPNs on their websites. Note that limitations may vary depending on the package you subscribe to. "Business" or "Telecommuter" services, for example, tend to offer more VPN support than "Residential" services.