Although Satellite Broadband always has (and most likely always will) play second fiddle to ADSL and fibre optic broadband in terms of performance, it is a perfectly viable solution to getting online for those who do not have access to such luxuries.
Satellite internet has been steadily growing in popularity over the last few years, with significant improvements in technology and lower cost overheads.
However, as satellite broadband technology has improved, general knowledge and understanding has clung to the services of yesteryear. People still continue to rely on word-of-mouth information that is long out of date of ill-informed.
Latency, or lag, is the time it takes from when you click your mouse to the desired page loading. This was always one of the biggest issues with satellite internet, after all it is pinging a signal to space and back!
The problem with lag is still existent, but significant technological improvements and the launch of newer satellites (such as Eutelsat’s KA-SAT which powers Towway) has made it a lot less of a cause for concern. In Europe speeds of 18Mbps are already available and constantly improving.
What once seemed like an eternity now only takes a few seconds at worst, and would be no issue for average user. For those who require video calling via programs such as Skype then satellite internet is perfectly capable of fulfilling your needs.
The real ongoing issue is for those actively involved with online gaming. Lag does make it next to impossible to play pinpoint reaction games such as shoot ‘em ups. Sadly, for many in rural areas, online gaming is simply not viable with any of the alternative internet solutions available at present.
One complaint many have of satellite internet is the fair usage policies. Satellite internet is subject to “sliding windows” which mean your bandwidth is allocated in slots of days or weeks each month. Go heavy with streaming for a day and it could make your internet feel like dial up until the next window slot, whilst going over your monthly limit can result in hefty charges.
This is not the ideal situation, but many people simply fail to understand what they are getting when they buy into a satellite internet contract. Some companies are so determined to get you to sign on the dotted line they sell their service as if it were cable.
It is common place to find forum threads of people complaining they feel ripped off by these providers because they were sold something different to what they ended up with. The case often seems to be that these people jump online, download a few films, spend hours on Youtube and then wonder why their connection has grinded to a halt.
In some cases people have even been persuaded to trade their ADSL connection for Satellite based on misinformation. Satellite internet is, as already stated, a solution for those without access to ADSL or fibre optic. Think of it like your paycheque;
Being the wealthiest person on earth would mean you could spend to your heart’s content, but you are probably not and therefore budget as to not spend all your money at once whilst putting aside money for bills, food, etc.
In a perfect world we’d all have access to unlimited internet, but for many it’s just not viable. Satellite internet is a great solution for this, and with the right usage management and allocation you can still enjoy streaming and downloading between basic browsing.
The cost of satellite broadband installation and subscription used to be astronomical, with prices being in the region of the 1000s.
Nowadays this isn’t the case, in fact costs are significantly less. Satellite internet may still cost more than cable type broadband but it’s a far cry from what it once was.
Many providers are now willing to offer equipment and installation free of charge as the satellite internet market gets more competitive, whilst in certain areas (such as Wales) local government are offering subsidies for people to trial or access alternative broadband methods.
If you are living in a broadband no-spot you might be entitled to help from the council or government, so make sure you get in touch!
I Don’t Care What The Weatherman Says…
Satellite internet has always had a reputation of struggling during bad weather. It used to seem that any form of adverse conditions would cause massive disruption to your service.
It’s now only in real extreme weather cases that the effects are felt.
As long as there is a clear path between your dish and the satellite, as in no obvious obstructions such as trees or walls, your connectivity should remain intact during most adverse weather conditions.
If you are having an issue during bad weather, you should contact your provider and have one of their qualified technicians to take a look at your connection. It is possible that the bad weather has knocked or moved the dish from its signal path.
About the Author: Tim Jackson is a Freedomsat customer advisor at Bentley Walker. His role involves helping new and existing customers understand the capabilities of satellite internet, whilst finding the best package suited to their needs.