High speed internet is becoming increasingly available in WA state. Cable service and 4G are available to a majority of households. Meanwhile, there are options for higher bandwidth slowly making their way around, like 5G and fiber optics. If your home is out of the service area for all of the above technologies, you still have the option for DSL or satellite service through HughesNet. These options are affordable but slower than the rest.
Comparing broadband options
Download Speed (in Mbps)
(4G)up to 45
Upload Speed (in Mbps)
(5G)up to 200 Mbps
Although some versions of 4G can allegedly produce faster download speeds (up to 150 Mbps), speeds this high are atypical. With a strong signal, expect normal 4G LTE to produce 45 Mpbs. Average speeds are below 20.
The providers of 5G have been promising crazy fast speed for years. However, speeds are different from one network to the next --- where it’s available, which is limited. See this article for the state of 5G deployment in WA. At the low end, 5G is a few Mbps faster than a great 4G signal. At the high end, its allegedly comparable to fiber. If you’re even able to get it, it will be spotty, and the speed will likely be somewhere in between.
Fiber is unique in that offers the same upload speed as it does download speed. Also, the strength of the signal doesn’t fluctuate. You get the speed you pay for, and you get it all the time.
The present and the future of broadband
The fiber network is slowly expanding. Of course, the providers target densely populated areas first. The map below will let you know if you’re in an area serviced by one of the 11 providers in WA.
To find the providers in your area, you can us this portal on the Broadband Now website.
5G is certainly taking its sweet time. With its notoriously limited range, we’re not holding our breath waiting on its arrival. If you’re in a rural area, it could be years away, if it ever comes at all. See more about 5G deployment in WA here.
In rural areas, its more likely that you’ll have access to advanced satellite broadband provided by Starlink before you have access to 5G.
The satellite constellation is being deployed to bring service to the rural 4%. Founder Elon Musk had originally claimed that beta testing would occur in N. America in late 2020, but more recent updates are pushing that back to February 2021. Starlink promises ridiculous data speeds and reliable coverage. For more about that, you can see this article.
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