back to article Satellite broadband rollout for all in US: But Europe just doesn't get it

Dish, the US satellite provider, has switched on its home domestic broadband service, but while Americans embrace satellite Europeans don't seem interested in talking to their birds. dishNET is offering 5Mb/s down, 1Mb/s up, for $40 to anywhere in the USA, via the Jupiter-1 bird. That will compete with HughesNet, which has …


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  1. BRYN

    the sub headline?

    When your only dish provider in the UK is Sky. Is it any wonder that we don't trust them. Especially in light of recent news. Before some wise guy/girl pipes up and says Freesat they use Sky's satellite network. Thus if Freesat provided a service you'd still be using sky. A turd by any other name is still a turd. #jft96 #dontbuythesun #dontgivemurdochapenny #mediacancer

    1. dogged

      Re: the sub headline?

      Also because latency matters. Satellite internet tends to work in burst mode with very, very long periods of latency. Try playing Call of Duty or Counterstrike when everything freezes solid for two second in every five.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the sub headline?

        Freezing 2 seconds in every 5 sounds like a bonus when you want your kids to concentrate on homework and not gaming. :-). Perhaps a new marketing tactic to try?

      2. Thing

        Re: the sub headline?

        Yup... took one look at this back in the day when I moved to a street that did not have cable.

        'The latency is what!?'

        Did not look any further :-)

    2. Colin Miller

      Other satellite internet is available

      Whilst BSkyB might be the only satellite TV supplier in the UK, it isn't the only satellite internet company. Infact I'm fairly sure that Sky's internet are FTTP or ADSL only.

      1. BRYN

        Re: Other satellite internet is available

        Yup there broadband service is ADSL at the moment. However the point is that they alone are the only viable satellite broadband provider. If another company lauinched the service they would use Sky's satellites rather than fund there own. Thus my point stands. Satellite broadband in th UK would be a Sky driven service. Murdoch is a cancer, News International are a cancer. Slowly everyday we get fed a little bit more of the poison he spouts. Seriously your all intelligent, who in ther right mind would actually pay Sky/News international for anything?

        1. Androgynous Cowherd

          Re: Other satellite internet is available

          You are all

    3. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: the sub headline?

      This has nothing to do with Sky or Freesat. Neither of them provide a broadband service over satellite.


        Re: the sub headline?

        I think the previous posters would do themselves (and us) a favour and (re-)read the article.

      2. BRYN

        Re: the sub headline?

        Yup your correct neither of them do. I never said they did. Just if satellite broadband launched in the UK only viable provider would be Sky/News International.

        Wish smart people would actually read, rather than jump to conclusions.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: the sub headline?

          There are already several providers selling broadband by satellite in the UK and have been for many years so you're wrong there as well.

          Sky/News International have nothing to do with satellite broadband and probably never will. In fact over the next decade they might get out of satellite broadcasting completely as IPTV drops in price and increases in availability. There is just no reason to mention them in respect of an article about satellite broadband.

    4. Fibbles

      This is not Twitter.

      #stop #using #hash #tags

    5. Mage Silver badge

      Re: the sub headline?

      There are two main Ka Satellite Internet services in UK, one from Avanti on Hylas 1 and one from Tooway on Ka-Sat.

      Neither (nor the resellers) are anything to do with DTH TV such as Sky. Nor actually is it Broadband.

      Sky don't actually own ANY satellites nor do they own the Set boxes or Dish on your house. They are a Pay TV Service that also has some channels they sell to Cable Operators.

    6. Gordon 10

      Re: the sub headline?


      I don't know if you are a cretin or deliberately bring obtuse. There is so much wrong with your post it beggars belief.

      Firstly sky don't own any satellites they rent transponder space on them.

      Sky don't own either the dishes or the installers.

      So taking those away and the moronic hash tags it leaves your post pretty redundant.

    7. Not That Andrew


      The post is required, and must contain letters.

    8. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Re: the sub headline?

      Sky don't own their satellite network. It's owned by SES ( and Sky lease facilities.

  2. Robert E A Harvey

    Not Needed

    Satellite internet makes sense when the US population is so sparsely scattered. In Europe population densities are higher and terrestrial solutions more practical as well as actually faster.

    Not to mention the weather. I used to work on ships and our C-band internet feeds were often interrupted by rain at one end or the other. (My domestic Sky TV sometimes goes off in heavy rain).

    And Europe has more aesthetic control over building use: the planning laws would go do-lally over so many dishes, whereas in the US people have large back yards to lose them in.

    </sweeping generalisations>

    Oh, and it is expensive.

    1. Tom 7

      Re: Not Needed

      but in a lot of the US you cant even hang your washing in the back yard

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not Needed

      If reading the Reg article it's because we are a bung of European commies?


      Oh, do I think the excuses given in the article are a load of rubbish? Me? Oh, I dropped the sarcasm tag, sorry I do!

    3. Steve Evans

      Re: Not Needed

      Exactly what I was going to say.

      If there was no other choice then I might think about it, but given the their 5Mb/s down, 1Mb/s up, for $40 has to compete with ADSL2 and now FTTC which are both faster and cheaper, their only real market are those who live in the middle of nowhere, which isn't that many.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not Needed

      "... used to work on ships and our C-band internet feeds were often interrupted by rain..."

      Ka band is even more prone to rain-fade. In fact I own a couple of operators who are preparing to sell satellite services that nominally use Ka-band, but which fall back to C-band in a rain-fade situation.

      1. Robert E A Harvey


        I'm sure you are right, but I had far less experience of Ka on ships - the sputniks we used were equipped for C, and if the rain was heavy enough we would lose either signal or symbol lock.

        Like I say, my Sky (?Ku?) box doesn't like wet weather

  3. hitmouse

    In a lot of rural France there is no landline broadband* and many are forced to take the satellite option. However since they pay through the nose for 4GB/month and terribly slow speeds I can't see any real interest in "talking to their birds" for its own sake.

    (*often the landline broadband is so awful that you can't stream YouTube or do video skyping)

    1. N2

      Rural France?

      i get around 8Mb/s down & 1Mb/s up in rural France, Im in very rural France this week & getting similar speeds & have always been able to achieve reasonable speed elsewhere.

      1. hitmouse

        Re: Rural France?

        Lucky you. In our rural France we have 1.5 down and 0.25 up on a good day. Latency is completely shit. But we're lucky: our neighbours 1km away can't get a land connection at all

        No mobile signal either unless we find a hill. Which is sooo great when you have to call telco support when the land connection goes down, and they ask you to check your router.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      my folks use satellite broadband, they're on Skye on a croft, BT keep saying that it's possible to get ADSL broadband out there (ergo the call centre) but they can't. The only real issue they have with the satellite is when certain sites (iplayer) decide the IP range they're in isn't in the UK anymore.

    3. FatGerman

      Third world backwaters

      "(*often the landline broadband is so awful that you can't stream YouTube or do video skyping)"

      Oh one shudders at the hardships you poor, poor foreigners have to suffer. I'm in rural Wales. I struggle to post this. A mobile phone signal would be nice too. But you know what? I manage. Go outside.

  4. Arctic fox

    I think that this matter is not simply driven by ignorance on this occasion.

    Satellite-dish sellers (regardless of the primary purpose of the dish) have a reputation amongst the general public that is on a par with double-glazing and used car salesmen.

    1. Richard Jones 1

      Re: I think that this matter is not simply driven by ignorance on this occasion.

      There are thought of that good? They must have improved and I missed it!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A few points for you all.....

    Ok hands up... I used to work in satellite comms - and no i dont work for any comms companies anymore so no vested interests here. To clear a few matters up, Sky dont own the satellites, they simply rent space of SES ASTRA - who also sell space segment to a whole host of other companies. TV is braodcast on KU band and works because its a single broadcast to many via satellites large scale footprint - so a scaleable sales proposition of one production to many users. Satellite broadband requires one set of transponders for the "broadband" uplink, (KA band), and one set of transponders for dowload, (KU Band). The Ka band transponders have a finite bandwidth onboard (as any satellites does) and you can only switch on a certain amount of simultaneous use connections, so without detailing very particular industry data, its clear to see that contention ratios will apply to bandwidth usage. Any latency times incurred are because the signals get uplinked and downloaded 2 times totalling about 78,000 km in comms distance so even at the speed of light you can see there will be latency issues in the system which are unavoidable. Mind you if your terrestrial broadband connnection had to travel 78,000 km you'd have a latency issue too.

    Anyone who can get a terrestrial broadband connection, even slow one, will get a cheaper/better service than anything they can get via satellite. Satellite works where you cant get terrestrial comms, hence why the numbers are greater in the US etc. Highlands and isalnd communities will always benefit from satellite comms but will require Govt subsidisng in some fashion to make it affordable for its consumers.

    Im not knocking satellite here - I loved its applications as it has as very specfic market which cannot be met by any other means.... but its simply not a scaleable cost effective method of delivering broadband comms.... unless as I said its remote areas/highlands and islands etc. Oh and the satellite dish set up for satellite "broadband" comms is a completely different type of dish/LNB than a sat TV style "mini dish". Its installation accuracy needs to be very exact otherwise your uplink data misses the KA band transponder beam spots which are not as wide an area as std KU band trasnmission coverage footprints - so dont judge sky dish installers with proper KA band dish installations - they are completely different. Ahhhhh it al comes flooding back!!!

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: A few points for you all.....

      I don't normally upvote ACs but on this occasion you deserve it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A few points for you all.....

        "I don't normally upvote ACs"

        Why not? Surely voters are supposed to be rating the message in question, not the messenger's track record, which is exactly why I usually post as AC here.

        Focus on the message, not the messenger.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Re: Why not?

          Most ACs are AC to hide their identity when giving abusive comments.

          Some hide their identity to avoid complication while giving great info on actual reality on satellites (unlike El Reg?).

          1. Fibbles

            Re: Why not?

            Some of us use AC because at some point in the past one of our posts has enraged a 14 year old (or somebody with a similar level of emotional maturity). I don't care about my upvote / downvote ratio, there are more important things in life. The voting system is a handy way of quickly finding out what fellow commentards think of your opinion though. It's certainly easier than scrolling through dozens of comments which essentially say nothing more than "Me too, great post" or "Please don't go near a keyboard again, your opinions are moronic". That system becomes completely useless though if some kid sees red and downvotes every comment made by a certain alias, regardless of its content.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why not?

            "Most ACs are AC to hide their identity when giving abusive comments."

            Actually, I have been posting more and more as AC lately as i have found that if I post anything that doesn’t agree with certain factions of the el-reg comentard community that most of my more recent posts suddenly get a flurry of down votes.

            I know votes don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but they are an indication that I may need to re-evaluate.....

            1. Fatman

              Re: a flurry of down votes.

              From my profile: In total, your posts have been upvoted 325 times and downvoted 207 times.

              I could give a shit less about how many down votes I get.

              Sometimes it is a case of "fuck you, if you can not take a joke".

              Now, to expect a shit load of down votes.

      2. Beau
        Thumb Up

        Re: A few points for you all.....

        Exactly the same from here.

    2. Stephen 11

      Re: A few points for you all.....

      "I loved its applications as it has as very specfic market which cannot be met by any other means...."

      While this has been the case up till now, I think that 4g mobile Internet could provide a fairly cost-effective solution for many rural areas where land line coverage is poor or non-existent.

      1. FatGerman

        Re: A few points for you all.....

        "While this has been the case up till now, I think that 4g mobile Internet could provide a fairly cost-effective solution for many rural areas where land line coverage is poor or non-existent."

        There are plenty of us living in rural areas who are still waiting for decent 2G coverage on the 1800MHz band that 4G will run on. I agree that 4G mobile would be better than the "broadband" provided by BT out here, but the chances of them building an antenna to cover the 14 people on this side of the hill are nil.

    3. Tom Reg

      Re: A few points for you all.....

      The pings are huge. Its about 40,000km from earth to satellite. So to ping a webserver you need 40,000 up to the sat, then 40,000k down to the ground, over to the server, then 40,000 km back up to the sat, and 40,000 down to the client. I think that the sat providers can cut this down by running an edge server on the satellite, but that only speeds up downloading pictures from the latest hollywood divorce.

      That's 160,000 km, or about 0.55 seconds - 550 ms are added onto each ping. (speed of light is 300,000 km/sec) Here in the Canadian countryside, on a WiFi 4G I get 'terrible' pings - 100ms seems added, etc. But on satellite which I had for several years, I was getting real world pings of 900 ms.

      So don't use satellite unless you can't get any form of real internet.

  6. Robin Bradshaw

    Thats your problem right there!

    "5Mb/s down, 1Mb/s up, for $40"

    Thats why its not popular in europe those speeds at that price would make even talk talk look like an attractive proposition.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thats your problem right there!

      Plus latency of 1 second plus. Which isn't a problem for downloads but for instant messaging it can be annoying.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Thats your problem right there!

        IM is where you think it would be a pain?

        IM would be fine - it's VoIP (Voice or Video) calls that would be intolerable.

        But then there are often other solutions for Voice calls - even if BT aren't the best broadband supplier they are pretty good at getting voice lines to places. And you could always try phoneing skype ;)

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Thats your problem right there!

          IM would be fine - it's VoIP (Voice or Video) calls that would be intolerable.

          Clearly the application mix is important, and that will depend on the user.

          For example, I use VoIP for work; I could live without it, but that would be an added cost on top of the price of satellite ISP service. On the other hand, I also do a fair bit of remote access with SSH, Telnet, VNC, Remote Desktop, and occasionally X11 - and those are really unusable with satellite latencies. It's like going back to the days of 300bps async connections. That makes satellite Internet unusable for me.

          If I just used the Internet for batch operations like email, and for request-response stuff with long think-time like conventional (non-AJAX-heavy) web pages, satellite would be more competitive. And there are certainly users who fit that profile.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thats your problem right there!

      You obviously haven't lived in rural Spain........

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thats your problem right there!

        What does Lester Haines say about this?

        My parents live in the middle of nowhere. They have Hughes, and while it's high latentcy, it's better than driving into town (1/2 hour drive) with a laptop to hit a 3G connection.

    3. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: Thats your problem right there!

      The Reg article did not make it clear whether $40 was:

      - one-off charge for ever

      - per year

      - per month

      - per week

      - per hour

      - per bit.

      Please would somebody clarify.

    4. zaax

      Re: Thats your problem right there!

      I agree the price plains are not competitive with other providers; DSL or cable. also 18Mbps is not that fast either.

  7. Roger Jenkins


    I am in Australia and am a satellite user. I have no mobile phone coverage and no DSL available on landline.

    I used to use ISDN, that is, until our monopoly phone company decided to stop domestic ISDN and only allow the commercial variety. So, why did I go satellite? Simply because it is governement subsidised and available.

    Under the old governement scheme I was attached to the Ipstar satellite, it was somewhat slow the latency was in the region of 1300ms and the download caps were poor (upload counted as well).

    Now I have the new governement scheme supplied by NBN, govt. owned and controled.

    NBN did the whole installation free of charge, they own the equipment therefore they also maintain it.

    The speed is higher than under the old scheme and the data cap is also higher and latency is now around 700ms.

    Under the above circumstances I'd be silly to not use satellite, however, if I had to pay for the whole shebang, there is no way I would have it, I'd be using dial-up.

    So, I agree with previous posters, with no govt. subsidy satellite broadband would be dead in the water.

    I dunno how the Yanks do it, unless they pay lots of money and only do email or a small amount of browsing.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Satellite

      In terms of population density, Australia is like America only more so. Europe is much smaller and much more densely populated than either and can provide DSL from exchanges to well over 90 % of the population. In less densely populated areas, and considering how well even very rural France is covered, this is a very small slice of the population, there are a range of technologies available from UMTS to WiMAX and the like, depending on country and rules. There just isn't sufficient residual demand for it to be viable and you get more value from the subsidy by building out low frequency UMTS than satellite.

      I've heard lots of complaints from Americans living not at all far from large metropolitan areas that they cannot get more than dialup because the deregulated operators are not obliged to install DSLASMs in the exchanges. This, and the existing base of Dish TV customers, makes broadband over satellite a nice additional service that Dish can offer and optimise use of its infrastructure.

      1. Throatwobbler Mangrove

        Re: Satellite

        Well, yes and no. Australia has a low population density overall but its population is very, very highly concentrated and urbanized. 90% of Australians live in cities or towns, mostly within 100kms of the coast, with most of the balance living on the Sydney-Goulburn-Canberra-Albury-Wodonga-Melbourne corridor.

  8. AndrueC Silver badge

    Poor bastards. Still - I suppose in a country that large there are places where it's the only option.

  9. Mage Silver badge

    Satellite is NEVER broadband

    The ENTIRE satellite capacity of UK is about one small rural exchange or Virgin street cabinet,

    Contention is dire. Look at fine print of the Cap. It's horrible.

    Also HTTP acceleration doesn't work with 3rd party VPN

    Latency is 25 x worse than real Broadband.

    Satellite is for people living where there is ZERO infrastructure and no mains electricity. You can in reality get fibre cheaply to anywhere that has mains electricity.

    Fibre to the Home, or at worst Kerb UNIVERSALLY is about the same cost as an LTE rollout that does about 70% geographic coverage and average loaded cell speeds of about 1Mbps to 2Mbps.

  10. tommy060289

    UP TO 5 Mb/s down and 1Mb/s up

    as we all know, most people get UP TO 24 Mb/s or at least 8 Mb/s. On the contrary most will sit somewhere between 1 and 3 Mb/s. So what is satillite's real speed.

    by contrast, I have up 40 down and 10 up. and get 37 and 8 with little issue:)

    1. Zmodem

      Re: UP TO 5 Mb/s down and 1Mb/s up

      satelite do 250mbs max, FTTH does 150mbs max

      1. HMB

        Re: UP TO 5 Mb/s down and 1Mb/s up


        No consumer or business product on this earth gives 250Mbps over satellite and even if you launched your own satellite for... I don't know.... let's just make up a huge number... £7Bn... and you did get 250 Mbps....

        Why oh why oh why would you do such a stupid thing?

        FTTH is NOT 150Mbps, being fibre the limits genuinely haven't been properly explored and at this time there are substantial caps imposed to maintain a good quality of service for everyone with the existing backhaul. FTTH could quite realisitcally support Gigabit internet. (BT in the UK does 330Mbps atm)

        Talking about Gigabit... 4G 'LTE Advanced' supports 1Gbps down at max rates. It's epically more intelligent to subsidise a full blown LTE roll out for a country than attempt to get high bandwidth satellite-latency-that-makes-you-want-to-cry broadband for Joe Public.

  11. Matthew 4

    satellite broardband sucks is why

    horrific lag makes it no faster than an old 56k modem.

    I know from experiance.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: satellite broardband sucks is why

      It sounds like you speak from ignorance to me. Lag and speed are totally different. If you were playing an online game, a 56k modem might be far superior than satellite. If you were downloading a 1Gb file then things are reversed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: satellite broardband sucks is why

        But "lag" may be applicable to games. In gaming it's a general description that covers both latency and total bandwidth. The total experience "lags" if one or the other drops. In this case if latency does.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: satellite broardband sucks is why

          Lag in gaming is almost exclusively caused by latency these days. Bandwidth used by games is relatively small and a modern broadband connection shouldn't be struggling with that sort of traffic. Games can cause people to hit their download limits but this is mainly because there is constant communication between server and client, often for hours on end, not because those communications are bandwidth intensive in themselves.

          The only time you're likely to see lag caused by a bandwidth issue is when contention comes into play. Occasionally this can be because of poor provisioning by the ISP but usually it's because of several people attempting to use the same household connection at once. If a family has a 10Mbit connection and Mom is watching the iPlayer using 4.95Mbit/s and Dad is downloading a torrent at 5Mbit/s, that only leaves Jimmy 50Kbit to play Counter-Strike. Because the Counter-Strike server and client can't maintain real time communication in that bandwidth, packets have to be dropped and Jimmy experiences lag before going on to describe everyone else on the server as a 'h4x0r' and a 'n00b'.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: satellite broardband sucks is why

            If gaming is so important to them they should move somewhere that has landline BB.

            What's proposed here is for people with ZERO chance of BB and even no dialup.

            I would assume that the reason Skye and the Aussie outback need BB of any sort is for Home Schooling, emailing the doctor etc, it isnt just to please the 3 kids who want to play WOW, if that is the reason then I have no problem saying no to govt subsidies

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: satellite broardband sucks is why

      Well, you are true about the latency, but it's not necessarily that that slows things down.

      Later (Windows) versions, and most Linux versions (and probably Apple IOS) have improved, but I still see a lot of installations where the TCP window size on the system is just too low for high-latency networks (including 2G, 3G, LTE, etc.).

      Imagine your laptop/phone/desktop has a window size set up of 64k. I think this is the Windows OS default, but never mind that as I'm just giving an example.

      Now use a network with a 50ms round-trip-time.

      This would limit your maximum download speed on this network to 65535/0.05 x 8.... Around 10Mbps.

      Take one example from above and use 700ms RTT (65535/0/7 x 8), and you're stuck at around 750kbps, no matter what your provider promised you, your OS is stopping you from getting any higher than that.

      There are several tools out there you can use to determine your settings and change them.

      Not all those "click here and we'll make you able to browse much faster" are snake-oil.

      (happilly downloading at 3.1Mbps on my CDMA MiFi dongle here)

  12. Anonymous Coward

    What happened to Low Earth Orbit broadband?

    Also what happened to WiMax?

    Let's face it, the UK is corrupt and there will never be competition beyond Virgin and BT Wholesale.

    1. Spikehead

      The problem with LEO broadband is it's not a viable option. The satellite is orbiting once every 90 minutes or so, with a pass lasting a maximum of 15 minutes. As for your dish, it would not be a static dish and would have to track the satellite(s).

      Now you could have a constellation of satellites, but to be able to have a continuous connection you'd be looking at a huge amount of satellites. For example a constellation of 5 satellites can guarantee a point on the earth covered once every 24 hours.

      The only viable use for LEO based internet is a store and forward service, which terminal based radio hams have been using some of the LEO satellites for since the 80's.

    2. Charles 9

      LEO setups can't stay still. Physics are what dictate that geostationary orbits tend to be at around 36,000 km. LEO setups work OK for a downlink-only system like GPS, but for anything requiring an uplink, you'll need more sophisticated electronics on the ground to get acceptable rates, which means more expense. A company called Teledesic made such a proposal. Thing is, they planned to get their constellation going TEN YEARS AGO. Right around the time they planned to go live, they went under. Most of the other LEO setups like Iridium also fell by the wayside. In general, the infrastructure needed appears to be too massive for the purpose.

      1. Spikehead

        The GPS orbit is around 20,200km in what is known as Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). The European Galileo system is in an orbit of around 23,222km, the Russian GLONASS system is at 19,100km and the Chinese Compass system has an interesting mix of GEO, MEO and HEO (inclined orbit at GEO altitude) satellites.

        The main uses of satellites in LEO are Science based (weather, ice coverage analysis, ionosphere, ISS) and Earth Observation.

    3. Tom 38

      What happened to Low Earth Orbit broadband?

      Good question.

      Also what happened to WiMax?

      Good question.

      Let's face it, the UK is corrupt and there will never be competition beyond Virgin and BT Wholesale.

      Bat-shit insane non sequitur.

  13. Richard Jones 1

    A Walk Down Memory Lane

    I made a snide comment about Satellite salesmen earlier because I used to work in the heavy lifting end of communications, Intelsat meetings and all that stuff. Like the gentleman who explained why there are real limitations to the satellite communications I am well aware of those issues. The places that I worked were once early and mass users of satellite communications, (they replaced HF Radio!) but I am not sure they even have one dish still operational now. Most things are now done via fibre optic cable. Satellite is highly flexible compared to cable so relatively ideal for ships, disaster recovery situation, some rural locations, etc. For most cases cable or some other narrow path connection method is better, even if it is spilt out to a wider area coverage on arrival at say the island location. In most European locations microwave, possible connections over power, (but beware of side issues with some methods!) or other focused methods not only offer far better bandwidth, but also usually lower costs. Even those lower costs may be too high for many and may bring even a very poor satellite single drop offering back into favour., e.g. where a government subsidy may fulfil both industrial and social needs for remote users The reason I berate salesmen is they offer the world while they know or should know that they can delivery almost nothing.

    As for LEOS, as far as I know all the companies failed to launch the number of simultaneous operational birds before the cash ran out or the idea became clearly unviable. I do not remember small moving dishes being a realistic idea (not hand held anyway!) and thought that the plan was to use some as yet not realised omni directional aerial combined with on-bird switching and receiver based bird selection system. The issues with them were such things as close to zero in building coverage, the 'canyon problem' in cities and many remote locations when you can only see a small window of sky and so on. If I remember some of the navigation systems took over the remains of some of the birds for a while and others might have had a life as part of disaster management systems. Store and forward might usefully have worked with some slower accumulation data acquisition systems used for physical sciences work where data bursts say every 20~ 60 minutes might trump no data at all.

    1. Colin Miller

      Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane

      Microwave needs a clear line-of-sight. Make sure that the transponders are installed during summer as microwaves don't like trees, as my parents found out, before being forced to move to satellite internet.

      1. Richard Jones 1
        Thumb Up

        Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane

        Yup, they do not like trees that can cut off line of sight, metal sheds at the beam edge, buildings in the way, large heat sources like Aluminium smelters and all sorts of other issues, including ducting and misty hollows. But avoiding those hazards is what a proper surveyor would do. Not some fresh out of a manual desk jockey.

        Properly designed and installed microwave is but one 'possibly better than nothing' solution

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Wait a second...

    You "roll out" cable from a spool. You don't do that with satellites AFAIK.

    1. Spikehead

      Re: Wait a second...

      Well, the satellites do tend to "roll out" from the integration hanger, where they are bolted to the rocket , to the launch pad...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wait a second...

        If your internet "rolls out" is it in the same way we do from the pub after a pint on a Friday?

  15. Alan J. Wylie

    Charlie Ergen owns both Dish and Hughesnet

    > [dishNET] will compete with HughesNet

    Dish and Echostar are both owned by Charlie Ergen. Echostar bought Hughes Communications, of which

    Hughes Network Systems is a subsidiary, in 2011.

  16. Wanda Lust

    Geography and lottery

    Satellite comms work on a big geographic scale, the UK is smaller than Texas with quite a few thousand telephone exchanges so there's more local loop coverage. Too few punters UK to really make satellite services viable for consumers.

    Camelot, lottery and sat comms: they needed reliable comms, preferably under one contract for the whole country from the Scottish islands to Cornwall and all points east to west across England, Wales & Northern Ireland - only option was satellite. They must have upwards of 50,000 locations, not a big throughput requirement, sat works.

    Like the enlightening AC, above, I have past professional knowledge of a network required to service a 'retail' business network that covered the UK, top to bottom and side to side. It required landline, satellite and mobile service providers. The services are there if you need them but as with anything, 'pays your money and makes your choice'.

  17. Christian Berger

    There's simply no capacity

    Yes, it does have coverage, but capacity is a serious problem. Even with beam-forming, the spots are still dozens of kilometers across. Capacity of those transponders is also quite limited. At most you get a few gigabits per spot which you need to share with the rest of your town. It's just a mess like cable. And I'm not even talking about latency here.

    Satellite connectivity is for connectivity, not bandwidth. It's fine for checking lottery tickets.

    1. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

      Re: There's simply no capacity

      "Yes, it does have coverage, but capacity is a serious problem. Even with beam-forming, the spots are still dozens of kilometers across. Capacity of those transponders is also quite limited. At most you get a few gigabits per spot which you need to share with the rest of your town."

      The assumption is you do not buy this in your town, you get cable or DSL. Those areas without cable or DSL tend to be more rural; splitting a few gbps among 10,000 people could get pretty bad, splitting it among 100 is probably not. Keep in mind once you get in the sticks you can have cell sites that also cover... well, in the western deserts here in the US some have a 50 mile service radius, but 10 mile radius is not uncommon at all. That'd also be horrible in a city but works fine in the countryside.

      1. Christian Berger

        Re: There's simply no capacity

        Absolutely, if you live in your mountain hut, it's great, but those services are marketed as a replacement for DSL in areas where you get DSL.

  18. The Alpha Klutz

    Europeans don't want it

    because its crap

  19. Aldous

    good luck in the rain

    the lotto terminals where i used to work always bugged out in heavy rain

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: good luck in the rain

      GTECH has a lot of experience with satellite comms (lots of US lotteries are using GTECH and therefore using satellites--Virginia has been in the club since about mid-2007). As others have said, this particular setup has big advantages. One is it's as easy if not easier to service rural locations as it does urban ones. Second is that lottery communications are very asymmetric, especially when it comes to number reports or system updates. Updating is much easier, since instead of a whole bunch of point-to-point links, the update feed can be broadcast once over the whole area, with spot fixes only needed in those areas where there was trouble. Though you do have some foibles. Heavy rain does interfere with communications, and there are occasions in the event of snow or ice where someone has to go up and clean off the dish (I did that once last winter).

  20. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Oh but the cap!

    Outside some big cities, the broadband pricing in the US is atrocious, my parents pay like $38 a month for 1.5mbps DSL. *BUT*, (other than latency that others have already brought up), there's two major caveats here:

    1) 10GB cap! 5mbps service is USELESS if the cap is that low. Web pages, E-Mail, etc. will easily work on 256kbps service, not needing 5mbps at all, while the Youtube (and especially Hulu and Netflix) that make faster service useful will blow your cap anyway. The devil is in the details though -- after 10GB, does DishNet start sucking huge wads of cash out of your wallet, or is it throttled at the cap? (To answer my own question, it appears they may be using Exede, which throttles at the cap, but has a midnight-5AM period that doesn't count towards your cap, for people to run their downloads and junk in.)

    2) Until it's actually available for sale, it's vaporware. One of the existing satellite services was "going to" come out for $30 or $40 a month, and ended up coming in at $70 a month by the time they actually started doing any installations. That said, I just did some googling and indeed, base satellite plans are down to like $40-50 these days from several providers. Verizon's got increasingly widespread 4G and several carriers have huge amounts of 3G. The prices are generally a ripoff, but low enough that if satellite cos still charged like $80 a month, they'd only get those few people out of range of cable, DSL, *and* cellular data (whereas now they can undercut cellular a little bit on price.)

  21. David Kelly 2

    Government Investment?

    Europe's DNA has socialism hard coded? Can't imagine direct satellite broadband internet access without the government subsiding the effort? Dish paid to have the satellite built. Dish paid Arianespace to put it in orbit. No subsidy.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One dish only?

    Unless the internet provider also provides a competing TV service to someone like Sky/Freesat, then it'll be D.O.A. - mostly for the fact that I believe having more than one dish on a property requires planning permission which I think most wouldn't be bothered to do if they already had TV via Sky or Freesat...

  23. andretomt


    Of course satelite internet is a no-go, we do not want aliens to snoop on our dirty habits.

  24. JeffyPooh

    A common feature of most satellite Internet providers...

    "Dear Valued Customer,

    Your use of our satellite internet system is in excess of our Fair Use Policy. 5GB a month should be plenty for anyone; ROTFLMAO. Your usage pattern has exceeded this amount by 24%, this puts you in the top 3% of our users (because we keep killing off those that use this amount - spot the circular logic?). So, as this your only option, you'd better back off. This is your final warning.


    Your least favourite company."

    Unlimited, adj. See Fraud.

  25. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    How about "I don't want one of them bloody things on my roof"?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Satellite is a reasonable fit for some commercial uses

    "lots of US lotteries are using GTECH and therefore using satellites"

    Not just lotteries, not just the US.

    E.g. Multinational chains with some rural presence across Europe (everything from petrol stations to betting shops) are quite likely to use satellite for various reasons: performance down isn't critical (download a pricefile once a day), performance up even less so (transaction summaries via landline?), latency is largely irrelevant, and using satellite permits a "one size fits all" uniform corporate solution - every branch has exactly the same setup, same service provider, regardless of location.

    Other than that rather nice market, satellite isn't really relevant, especially to the SoHo user who seem to be in the snake oil salesmen's sights at the moment.

    1. Khoos
      Thumb Up

      Re: Satellite is a reasonable fit for some commercial uses

      I noticed a lot of petrol stations here in .nl (Texaco, Esso) have a dish on the roof with clearly two lnb-like devices, hinting at a two-way satellite connection.

      I'm not versed enough in that area to recognize the dishes and their bands, someone can probably explain.

      The one-size-fits-all solution indeed, since petrol stations can't be too close to serious amounts of houses and those along the highway are usually quite far from areas with high population densities. Although highways are probably also a place for lots of fiber.. it's a way to make your right-of-way pay for itself.

  27. FreeTard

    Sat BB is great

    Unless you wish to use VOIP, or online gaming, and love throwing away you cash.

    I suppose you could do walkie talkie type calls. Hi friend, over. Hi back, over. etc etc.

    40 quid for that? I get 50Mbit for the same price here in Dublin.

  28. stu 4

    uplink over POTS ?

    do any still work like that ? I remember that being 'sold' to me by a website 10 years or so ago ?

    main benefit seemed to be far smaller dish required as no uplink was needed. There were claims of latency savings too, but not really sure I can see how that bit worked unless is was reliability/data rate or something.

    Obviously uprate was hellish aka 56k speed, but downlink speeds were claimed in the 256-512 range at the time.

  29. Aegrotatio

    ViaSat is *not* Dish Network

    Are you kidding me? ViaSat is *not* Dish Network.

    The Dish Network product is the Hughes satellite service.

    ViaSat is the new WildBlue service.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Have you mis-read the article...

      ...which merely stated that Dish Network resells Viasat capacity. [It has been updated to say that the company resells both Viasat and Hughes Satellite.]

  30. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Alternative when the Man comes knocking

    I'm in an area that has cable internet and no DSL. The only other option is satellite. I worry that I may be accused of downloading something that the MPAA, BMG, BMI, RIAA or that ilk do not want me to download and my internet gets axed. The way things are going, the media companies are going to own the internet for all practical purposes. It doesn't matter if the local laws are one strike or six, with the way notices are sent out, everybody is likely to get some eventually. Microsoft sends take down notices to Google for content on Bing.

    I at least have some sort of back up to my cable connection and I could get internet re-installed. These days, if you don't have internet, you're hosed.

  31. Goat Jam

    Perhaps Europeans are smarter than USians?

    "In Europe it's perceived as a stop-gap at best - certainly not for the long term despite the fact that just about every UK lottery ticket is authorised over satellite and there's enough capacity to supply broadband to the remotest regions of the British isles."

    Issuing lottery tickets is one thing, attempting to play CoD (or do VoIP) with a 500ms plus latency ("high ping" in kids speak) is an entirely different matter.

  32. NukEvil

    Hello, everyone. My name is NukEvil, and I live in a hole.

    'Tis true. My next door neighbors can get DSL, but neither me nor the house next to me can get it. We're *just* too far from the exchange for that. So, I use satellite "broadband". It's pretty decent compared to dial-up, being I don't play games or do much of anything else that requires low latency. The latency between me and the closest Google web server is anywhere from 1 second to 1.5 seconds. Been using it for over 3 years.

    BTW, it took the installers over 6 hours to finish installing the service. It took them only about 30 minutes to install the ViaSat modem, hand me the terms of the contract, get the computer connected, set up my account, and get the dish mounted on a pole. The rest of the time was spent watching them try to find their own satellite. The modem would go through the connection sequence over and over again, but would never achieve a valid connection. The "techies" kept calling their partners, trying to figure out what was wrong. The reason was because they were aiming the dish at the wrong satellite. I guess I should have realized what I was in for when one of them asked me for a compass shortly after driving up (I didn't have one).

    I, finally out of patience, asked them what direction the dish needed to be pointed. One of them told me it needed to be pointed 235 degrees from North. Me, knowing the dish was pointed straight to the South, simply grabbed the sides of the dish, turned it in the general direction (I said, "Well, I think the dish needs to be pointed" *turn* "this way"), and the modem almost immediately achieved a lock, and then a valid connection. The techies didn't even need to fine-tune the position of the dish; the signal was perfect.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hello, everyone. My name is NukEvil, and I live in a hole.

      "My next door neighbors can get DSL, but neither me nor the house next to me can get it. We're *just* too far from the exchange for that. So, I use satellite "broadband""

      Bill Ray (author of this article) had the same problem but his solution was to build a DIY WiFi link to the next door folks and get access to DSL that way; there are a couple of articles on here about it somewhere.

  33. Dave 120

    Satellite isn't broadband?

    I'm posting this from an 18mb download 6mb upload connection over satellite. That costs me £45 a month.

    Yes there is an 800ms ping so I can't play FPS games. For everything else it's fine. Available now in the UK. The best ADSL speed I can get is 500k because I'm in the hinterlands (8 miles from my exchange)

  34. John Robson Silver badge

    I'd have thought that a microwave link would be cheaper than a sat connection....

    The only issue being that the licencing is covered by one company for the sat connection.

    Of course you can boost vanilla WiFi to get pretty good distances too, that could work well for many rural communities.

  35. Nifty

    What happended to the hybrid solutions

    Request your pages via POTS, receive the pages via Satellite.

    I remember this being proposed years ago.

  36. Charles 9

    Several things.

    Odds are most of the urbanites and suburbanites serviced by this hybrid solution when terrestrial solutions came their way: either DSL from the phone company or cable internet. Basically, if you're within reach of a decent POTS provider, odds are there's a decent enough landline for your purposes.

    Plus there's competition from the cell providers who can scale their service areas to get the right customer/bandwidth ratio provided enough customers sign on.

    Finally, direct-to-satellite uplink started to outpace POTS modems, which topped out at 56kbit/sec. At the rate of lag being seen, going from a one-trip lag to a two-trip lag isn't as irksome for the right kinds of information.

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