4G stands for Fourth Generation and LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. This is the technical name for the Tower based internet solution offered by Xplornet. Most people will have heard both of these terms in reference to a similar piece of technology you carry in your pocket — a cellphone.
The Xplornet LTE system runs off of tower based systems that are linked together using Point-2-Point backhauls and then routed through a fibre conduit at a local backhaul station (Swift Current, for example). This allows them to offer an wireless to your home solution in rural areas where direct cable connections may be unavailable or expensive to deploy.
Using the 3500Mhz frequency band, Xplornet will connect your farm, acreage, or small town to a more robust Fibre backed network using wireless dish technology!
Xplornet contracts fibre connections from a broadband bandwidth provider, such as iTel or SaskTel in major centers or along fibre routes. From there, they will link to their tower backhaul system using wireles access points known as Point-2-Point systems (Note: Direct Web Solutions deploys and builds similar network systems on a smaller scale for our customers) and then broadcast the signal out for you to receive at your home using an LTE Receiver dish.
The dish contains its own built in modem which will communicate with the network and link to your specific Xplornet account, providing an accurate way to monitor statistics, usage, and current levels of signal. If you experience an issue with your service, Xplornet will be able to connect to your panel remotely to see any service issues on their end and potentially correct it from there. This service is enhanced by the use of the Xplornet XWR (Home WiFi Router).
What is ping? — Ping time, also known as latency, is the measurement of time for a round trip on a single connection from one point to another. An example of this is if you attempted to connect to Direct Web Solutions website, your connection must first send a request to the satellite, back to earth, across the fibre network to a DNS (Domain Name Server) Provider, translate the IP from the Domain, send that information back to through to you, and then attempt to connect to that IP through the same process. Xplornet LTE ping is usually between 40 and 110 ms due to the traffic management policy, but due to the nature of LTE systems, they are able to break up most connections into multiple parts and stream simultaneously.
What is download / upload speed? — Your download and upload speed is the bandwidth throughput speed that affects how fast you can load a file or page after the initial connection. This will be most noticable when streaming on multiple devices or downloading files.
How much speed do I need? — Due to the efficiency of the LTE network, you may not require as much speed as you do for other services, such as Satellite internet. Typically a household of 1-3 will get by with a 5Mbps package, 3-4 can use a 10Mbps, and 4+ or family's with heavy usage (more than 3 people streaming at a time) would want a 25 or 50Mbps package. Depending on signal levels, you may be able to switch between packages if you find you need more speed for a slightly increased monthly cost.
Why does my internet feel slower? — Occasionally the system will become full - this is called congestion. Congestion happens when everyone on a panel begins to use the service at the same time or multiple users begin to use a high demand of the network. Xplornet has built in systems that will attempt to lower the speed of certain services to offload the 'bad-actors' in these situations and give everyone on the system fair access to the resources of the tower. Some dealers will install systems that do not pass required statistics for install (QoI) by tricking the provisioning service into believing they have enough signal. These practices will slow everyone else on a panel down and Xplornet, along with Direct Web Solutions, will look for these installs and attempt to rectify the install.
What happens if I don't meet signal req's? — In the event that your system was installed by these methods, we will attempt to improve your signal to the minimum threshold. If the issue is caused by foliage impeding, you will have to option of removing the foliage to improve signal. If the intrusion is caused by a structure, you will have the option of moving your equipment. If the signal requirements cannot be met for your current plan, even after the above issues have been resolved, you will be offered to switch to a lower speed plan or to convert to the satellite platform if a lower plan is not available. If you chose not to switch, you will not be able to continue service with Xplornet.
We do not list the current rate plans for Xplornet LTE services here as they are subject to change — If you would like to see the current rate card please click the Sign up for Xplornet button located at the top of this page. There we will keep the most current rate plan available to our customers for both Satelite and LTE plans. You can also contact our team directly for information on pricing.
When choosing which service may be best for you, the biggest factor will be location of your property. Satellite technology is available almost anywhere, whereas LTE (Long-Term Evolution) is tower based and requires LoS (Line-of-Sight) with the tower to be possible. Below are some of the Pro's and Cons of the LTE network.
- Faster speeds — Because of the local fibre based backhauls and fewer customers on a tower VS the Satellite systems, you will have more available throughput on a tower panel than a satellite node. Because Xplornet is using the 3500Mhz band, this means they can push speeds up to 100Mbps by utilizing carrier aggregation on a panel.
- Cheaper Plans — Towers are a lot cheaper to deploy than satellite services and easier to feed bandwidth to as they can have multiple backhauls supplying a network of towers. This means customer pools will be able to receive service.
- Low power consumption — Satellite systems are powered over the RG6 cable and use a lower level of power to operate. This means you can run the system at the cabin without worrying about if your generator can power it up!
- Limited data caps — Because of the limited throughput and higher customer loads on Satellite networks, they are unable to offer the same data usage as conventional and tower based services. This is to enable a fair usage to the other customers on the system - That being said, satellite plans do have the option of 'unlimited' data, but the data is slowed down significantly after you reach your data threshold - Similar to a cellular based plan.
- Higher plan pricing — Because the satellite network is located in space, maintaining this service costs a lot more for providers. This extra cost means customers will have to pay higher access fees per month to obtain an internet connection. For this reason alone, we suggest an LTE network install over satellite wherever possible.
- Lower download / upload speed — Xplornet has worked hard to deploy highspeed 4G satellite technology on as many beams as possible but due to the technical limitations with the technology on the Geostationary interface, they cannot offer the same download and upload speeds as Tower based or Cable based internet solutions. This is not the case with SpaceX or Amazon satellites as they are LEO and can connect to multiple ground stations as well as link to other satellites to provide a higher throughput speed.
- High ping (latency) — Due to the sheer distance alone, Fixed Position Satellite service will always have a higher ping time than land based or LEO services. As previously stated this can be between 600 - 1400 ms, usually around 780ms in most cases. Due to this high latency services such as online gaming, Vo-IP, Skype, Zoom, and streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime will stutter, or may not work at all.
- Service outages — The final, and frankly largest, CON of the Satellite system is weather caused service outages. Because you need to be able to see the sky, both on uplink to the Satellite, and downlink to the Earth, weather can cause outages on the system. As the downlink provider is located in the East coast, coastal weather can knock the entire system offline even though the weather is clear on this side of the country. Likewise, the system is heavily affected by wind, rain, and snow.