Satellite Internet Providers

Satellite Internet using a dish has been around since the mid 90's. DirecPC allowed anyone, anywhere to access the Internet. A dial up account was used to send data to the Internet and a satellite dish was used to send high speed broadband data back to the user.

A few years later, Starband and Direcway (formally DirecPC)

released two-way dish internet systems, which no longer required a dial up connection. These systems used a USB connection with a PC. These systems provided decent download speeds, but upload speeds were no much faster then dial up. Networking these system was also a problem. The user had to use Microsoft's Internet Connection Sharing or other custom software for networking the satellite Internet connection.



After a few years, both DirecWay and Starband released standalone Satellite Internet Modems with built in networking ability. The used built-in DHCP, and when combined with a hub, the user could network several computers to the Satellite Internet Dish. Starband has faded away as a serious satellite internet provider for residential applications. They still have a strong presence in the commercial VSAT industry. Starband has made several attempt to reenter the residential market.


In 2005, Direcway started changing their name to HughesNet. HughesNet has grown over the last few years to establish themselves as a leader in the residential and SOHO satellite Internet provider market.

Direcway is now HughesNet

Today HughesNet uses advanced DVB compression technologies and a new network operations center to provide even faster satellite internet service to consumers and SOHO's and business customers. HughesNet uses several dish sizes and transmit radios to provide a multi-tier service platform. Prices start at $59.99 a month (as of February, 2007) for a residential class system.




In 2005, WildBlue entered the scene with the latest in Satellite Broadband Technology, Ka-band (19-30 GHz). Ka-band provides more precise spot beam control and allows the use of smaller dishes. During 2006 Wild blue experienced rapid growth into the residential market. Wildblue internet service is provided via the Anik F2 satellite. The advanced spot beam technology of Anik F2 has two disadvantages.

1) When a beam covering a geographical region reaches the maximum number of users, no new service can be provided to that area. During 2006 and early 2007 several beams had to be closed to new subscribers. Another satellite is expected to be available for service in early 2007. The additional satellite capacity will reopen those closed markets and should allow WildBlue to provide coverage to almost every part of the continental United States.

2) Some areas may not be covered by a satellite beam. There are small areas between beams that prevent users in those areas from receiving Wild blue. A local WildBlue Dealer can tell you if you live in one of those areas.

What is Latency and how does it affect ping times?

A satellite internet modem connects your computer to a Network Operations Center (NOC). The NOC is your gateway to the W WW. When your browser request a web page, the request is up to a satellite 22,3000 miles above the equator. The satellite retransmit the request down to the NOC. The NOC uses high speed internet connections to contact the web server. The server sends the requested data to the NOC, where the NOC sends the data to the satellite and down to your satellite modem.

A satellite signal traveling 22,300 miles up and down and then back up and back down takes about 480 milliseconds. This is called signal latency.

When you add up the satellite signal latency to the normal signal latency between the NOC and the WWW, you will have an average overall latency (in internet terms this called ping times) of at least 600ms and common ping times up to 1000ms (1 second). This compares to 100ms to 250ms for other, non-satellite, broadband methods. As long as a user understand that satellite internet will appear to have slower page loads then other broadband options of the same download speeds, most users accept this as normal. Latency does not have an appreciable affect on file transfers.

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