The first time I heard about satellite broadband was about 15 years ago. I liked the idea of connecting my satellite dish to my pc and surf the internet. The good thing was, at that time, the high download speed and that it was immediately available – who knows when I could ditch my dial-up internet and get ADSL through BT or any other broadband ISP.
15 years later and the market has changed quite a bit. There are now many small to large companies offering internet through satellite services. They are mainly targeting business users or consumers who live in rural areas where there is no cable broadband or dsl internet through the telephone line.
One thing I didn’t like about satellite broadband was the fact that you still had to have a telephone line as you could only download from the satellite, uploading had to be done through the telephone line. And with uploading I don’t mean uploading files, just a single click on a link is also an upload – that request has to get to the server somehow. So, in addition to the satellite internet service I would also had to pay for being online through a dial-up service. But this problem seems not be an issue any more as providers offer two-way satellite systems.
With a two-way satellite system, your satellite dish is not only able to receive signals but also send signals to the satellite. That way you can surf the internet without an additional telephone line. You might think the dish has to be rather large but this is not the case. Some VSAT-Systems (that’s what they are called) get away with dish sizes as small as 75cm. The only downside is that these VSAT-Systems are rather expensive. The equipment costs about £1000+ and there is still the monthly service fee – not quite a bargain should alternative broadband (cable or adsl) options be available to you.
The one-way systems are a lot cheaper but you need an uplink somehow. But telephone flatrates are so cheap these days that shouldn’t be an issue. It’s even possible to use your mobile phone as the uplink. This would work quite well for people who caravan around the country. They could use their mobile phones and their satellite dishes for a rather cheap and mobile internet access and watch TV, too. Ok, the mobile phone speeds would be very slow unless you are on of the the mobile internet tariffs with 3G or so but it should be still allright.
One thing to bear in mind though is that when satellite broadband was fast 15 years ago it’s rather slow in todays terms. Standard download speed are 512 kbit/s, 2Mbit/s services cost dearly. And there is a significant lag between clicking on a link and actually starting to receive the page. So, internet becomes a bit of a slow experience. And don’t even think about online gaming.
One piece of news suprised me last week that one of the leading satellite broadband providers, skydsl, had announced that they will step out of the market after managing to have only 25,000 subscribers rather than the targeted 1 million – europe wide. But apparently they have been bought now buy a swiss company which will continue the business.