Ever since I moved into a big city, I had no problems with my Roku since there was always cable internet available.
But when I went to visit my parents in the countryside, there was no stable Fiber connection or any latest fancy DSL 5G hodgepodge connection available.
The only reliable method to access the internet was through my Starlink Satellite Internet, and a subpar dial-up internet connection.
Even though the latency was high and the speeds “acceptable”, you could access the internet with commendable speed and reliability using a Satellite internet connection.
The most effective Satellite internet service provider, at least for me, was Viasat. With the Premium 100 plan, I was able to get stable internet at about 100 Mbps and a data cap of 100 GB per month.
The next thing I needed to do was connect satellite internet and Roku. To do this, I scoured the internet and compiled everything I learned into this article.
Roku works with Satellite internet. To stream over your Roku using a Satellite internet, connect through WiFi or an Ethernet connection if your Roku supports it.
Connecting through WiFi
Unlike connecting via an Ethernet cable which only some Roku devices support, all Roku devices support connection through WiFi.
Connecting through WiFi is easier and preferable than a wired connection since it is wireless and doesn't require any additional hardware. Moreover, it has similar results in speed and latency as compared to a wired option and can also be enabled over a commendable distance.
The only drawback is varying speeds and ping if multiple devices are connected to the WiFi.
You also have to make sure that the modem supplied by your Internet Service Provider(ISP), supports WiFi.
With that being taken care of, let's look at how to connect your Roku to your WiFi.
If you're setting up your Roku for the first time, follow the onscreen prompts that appear on startup and select the Wireless option when prompted.
Select your WiFi and enter the password to complete the procedure. If you do not see your WiFi network on the screen, select Scan again to see all networks.
Follow these steps to connect to your Satellite internet WiFi:
1. In the Home tab, select the Setting tile.
2. Scroll up or down and select Network.
3. Click on Set up connection.
4. Select the Wireless option.
5. Click on your WiFi network from the available networks.
6. Select Scan again to see all networks if your network did not appear.
7. Enter the password(if case sensitive, press the Up arrow to enter Capital letters).
8. Click on Connect to complete the connection.
Now your Roku is connected to Satellite internet through WiFi.
Wired Connection (Ethernet)
Wired connection is the best method to connect and stream content on your Roku device.
This is because you can get stable latency and speed which, unlike wireless connection, is not affected by the traffic in your network.
You also don't have to worry about connection distance between the modem/router and the Roku which is a problem with wireless connection.
Before you go on to connect your Roku to an Ethernet cable, there are a few things to take care of.
Firstly, you have to check whether your device supports a wired connection.
Not all Roku devices support a wired internet connection.
Here are the Roku devices that house an Ethernet port:
- Roku Ultra(4800, 4640, 4660, 4661, 4670).
- Roku Ultra LT(4662)
- Roku TV
With the help of an Ethernet to USB adapter, Roku Express 4K(3940) and Roku Streambar( 9102) support Ethernet connection.
Roku recommends buying an adapter that supports 10/100 Mbps speeds. Adapters that support 1000 Mbps speeds will not work. It should feature an AX8877X or SMSC95XX chipset.
Roku Streambar requires an adapter with a standard USB port, while the Roku Express 4K needs an adapter with a micro USB port.
Some products suggested by Roku are:
- For Roku Express 4K: UGREEN micro USB to RJ45 Ethernet network adapter and Belker micro USB to RJ45 Ethernet adapter.
- For Roku Streambar: TRENDnet USB 2.0 to 10/100 fast Ethernet LAN wired network adapter.
Here's how you can connect your Roku to the internet via Ethernet:
If you're setting up for the first time, instead of selecting the wireless option, select the Wired option in the internet setup screen and Roku automatically sets up the connection.
If not follow these steps:
1. From the Home screen, scroll up or down and select Settings.
2. Click on Network.
3. Select Set up connection, followed by Wired option.
4. Roku will automatically connect to the wired connection.
Your Roku is now connected to the Satellite internet through an Ethernet connection.
Common Problems When Using Roku with Satellite Internet
There are several things you have to know before you decide to connect your Roku to a satellite internet connection.
Let's take a look at some possible problems:
1. Satellite Internet Latency and Data Cap
Have problems with your shows not loading fast and buffering continuously?
This is because the satellite internet signal has to travel a long distance before reaching your home modem.
This is known as latency and the lower the latency the better.
Satellite internet is known to have very high latency (600ms+) and hence cause undesirable buffering issues.
There is also the issue with select TCL Roku TV models facing WiFi connectivity issues.
Another thing to consider is the Data cap.
Even though satellite internet offers speed from 12 to 100 Mbps which is enough for streaming up to 4K, the data cap allotted is limited.
The two most reliable Satellite internet providers in North America are Viasat and Hughesnet.
Viasat provides speeds up to 100 Mbps and a data cap up to 100 Gb per month. Hughesnet provides 25 Mbps speed with up to 50 Gb data cap.
With such a limited data cap it is crucial to note down how fast streaming can eat up the data cap.
Streaming in 4K may eat up your data cap much more quickly than if you stream in HD or SD.
2. Weather Conditions
Adverse weather conditions can cause your internet connectivity to be laggy and patchy.
Such storm-related interruptions are known as “rain fade”.
Rain fades can cause your internet connection to be unstable and if severe, may also get disconnected completely.
This is because, with interruptions in signal propagation like the heavy clouds and particulate matter in the atmosphere, the signals can get distorted and rendered useless.
There is not much we can do with such a problem other than to wait it out until the skies become clear.
3. Choosing the Right Router
If the supplied modem doesn't support wireless capabilities, choose a Router that is recommended by the ISP.
Not all the fancy routers in the market may be compatible with your modem.
Viasat and Hughesnet provide wireless capabilities with their modems.
If the standard modems are not up to your mark, you can request a better one according to your liking.
4. Choosing the Right cable
Whether you are using a CAT5e, CAT6, or CAT6A Ethernet cable, it is important to know whether your Roku supports it.
Using copper cables is recommended since it has a much better long-distance transmission and little losses.
5. Connection Problems
Have connectivity problems? Try these troubleshooting steps:
- Check for updates. If your system is not up to date, you may experience connectivity issues.
To check for updates go to Settings>System>System update>Check now. Click on Download/Install to install the latest update.
- Check if the cables are firmly connected. In the case of wired connection, improper connection of the cables will cause your internet connection to be unstable.
Check if the Ethernet cable is connected firmly to the device and the modem/router.
- Check the position of the Dish antenna. If your antenna is not placed rightly, the connection may be unstable.
It is necessary to position your antenna facing towards the equator since most satellites are positioned around the equator.
- A quick restart. If everything is in its position but still you experience jittery connection,try restarting your devices.
Simply unplug both your Roku and the modem/router and plug it back in after a couple of minutes.
With a lower data cap, high latency, and high cost, satellite internet may not be the ideal option for streaming.
But in areas where it is not feasible to provide Fiber, cable, or DSL connection, the most reliable way to access is through a satellite connection.
With advancements in technology, satellite communication has come a long way.
Companies like Starlink(SpaceX) and Amazon will soon launch their own satellite internet.
Much more feasible and efficient satellite internet is at hand sooner than expected.
Streaming has never been more accessible.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What kind of internet do I need for Roku?
Any internet service with a minimum speed of 3 Mbps and commendable latency can support a Roku device.
2. What is free on Roku?
With a plethora of free channels from YouTube to Roku channel, Roku streaming devices offer an almost inexhaustible amount of free content. Some of the free channels are Popcornflix, TED, Newsy, PBS and PBS Kids, Tubi, etc.