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The best satellite internet?

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Aug 27th, 2007 at 7:32pm  
Hey everyone

I just moved out to the country and I'm trying to figure out which satellite internet service provider I should choose. Right now it's pretty much between SkyWay, Wild Blue, and DirecWay. Anybody know which I should choose, or if there's a better service I'm overlooking ? Right now I'm using the internet at work, but I've got to get hooked up at home - I'm too much of a Youtube junkie!!!!

Thanks

-Jared
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« Last Edit: Aug 27th, 2007 at 8:45pm by Admin1 »  
 
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Reply #1 - Aug 27th, 2007 at 9:46pm  
If you go satellite, you're gonna have to break the streaming video habit. At consumer level, EVERY satellite provider has a policy - many of them punative - that is intended to constrain customers to within contractural throughput totals.

Servers are generally prohibited, heavy downloaders are perpetually mad, and avid gamers are always disappointed. VoIP and VPN users often lose a lot of  hair. Consumer grade satellite internet is for the most part better than dialup, but can (and should) never be measured on the same scale as is terrestrial broadband. You can buy better performing satellite connections - but the monthly costs are SIGNIFICANTLY higher than consumer grade rates.

//greg//
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Reply #2 - Aug 27th, 2007 at 11:11pm  
Greg makes an excellent point.  Many people just don't understand what "streaming" implies. 

When you surf the web, your PC transmitter sends a short burst of data with the requested web site address.  Then it goes idle.  Your PC receives a few seconds of download, then it goes idle.  Because there is so much idle time, many PCs can share the same bandwidth and get a good service.  It's like having a hose with a sprayer handle on the end.  If you repeatedly press the sprayer for a second you get a strong burst of water each time.

When you run voice or video, it's like pulling the handle on the sprayer and leaving it on.  The water pressure in the hose drops and you get a steady flow instead of many strong bursts. 

Streaming traffic like voice and video are not what broadband was originally designed for.  In some places where you have cable broadband or DSL connected to fiber optic lines that go right to the Internet backbone, it's like your water hose being connected to a fire hydrant.  There's plenty of pressure so you can support streaming applications like voice and video and still get good surfing. 

Satellite isn't capable of delivering that level of service economically on a broadband service, given the costs it takes to develop, manufacture, launch and maintain a satellite.  Fiber is good for many, many years and they keep figuring out how to get more bandwidth out of it, but satellites costing millions of dollars have to be replaced after 10 - 15 years, and while they continue to squeeze more bandwidth out of them, it isn't on the same scale as what they can do with fiber.  After all fiber doesn't need a bigger dish to get a higher speed.  The costs are such that satellite bandwidth is going to cost much more than terrestrial services fed by high capacity fiber. 

When talking about larger sites such as Cyber Cafes with many PCs, there are a variety of bandwidth management devices on the market from vendors such as Packeteer, Sitara, Allot, Microtik and many others that can be used to control the streaming traffic and make sure a few PCs don't use up all the bandwidth.  Usually voice and video are transmitted and received using UDP or generic TCP protocols, and by controlling or limiting those protocols you can maintain good browsing service.  However some sites like YouTube and MySpace are using HTTP to transport video and that becomes a challenge.  You can't block or limit HTTP without affecting browsing for everyone because browsing is based on HTTP.  Using HTTP for voice and video keeps things simple, but it kills broadband service when bandwidth is limited or very expensive as in the case of satellite.

A big problem experienced by many sites is video uploads and/or webcam service. The upload is the "hard part" in the satellite biz.  When you saturate that upload, browsing drops to a crawl because you can't transmit your web requests, even if plenty of bandwidth is available on the download.  Your web request might get transmitted from your PC again and again before it finally gets out.  So what looks like a lousy download service is actually a saturated upload keeping your web requests from being transmitted.  After all you can't receive the web page until the site gets the request. 

Webcams transmit streaming voice and video.  They are a huge problem.  I get people who want to support 10 concurrent webcams on a 512 x 256 shared service.  A typical Yahoo, MSN or Skype webcam will try to use 80 - 120 Kbps in both directions.  Because they have compression built in on the video side, they can get by with less bandwidth if you don't move around a lot and have to refresh all the pixels.  They will generally get fair performance with about 40 Kbps of steady stream traffic.  Webcams don't like to give up bandwidth once they get it, so they kill browsing.  People just don't understand how much bandwidth they require and blame the satellite service when a couple webcams have sucked the bandwidth dry. 

As Greg said, the downloaders are going to be mad, but if they understand what's really happening, perhaps they will be more realistic and understanding of the limitations.  I find that it's often easier to educate people who have never had broadband before, than it is to re-educate people who have experienced high-speed broadband cable or DSL. 

Pat
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Reply #3 - Aug 28th, 2007 at 2:00pm  
Wow, this is good to know - thanks!

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Reply #4 - Aug 29th, 2007 at 7:26am  
It was nailed on the head.

I am currently using satellite internet.

P2P is practically non existent.

Time lag in response is high

Straight file downloads have not even got close to the advertised package download speeds.  My case I am supposed to receive up to a max of 512.  I get around 200.

For the cost I am going back to dial up and wait for something better.

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Reply #5 - Aug 29th, 2007 at 8:56pm  
I'm sorry, I accidentally deleted your question in the process of uploading my response. Feel free to resubmit. You may use the Modify option to the right, and type right over this text.

//greg//
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« Last Edit: Aug 30th, 2007 at 1:04am by N/A »  
 
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Reply #6 - Aug 30th, 2007 at 1:03am  
Hughes and Wildblue use different approaches to satellite internet, which also involves different hardware. There are strengths and weakness to both, but in the end probably come out about equal. From a dependability standpoint though, Wildblue seems to be having quality control issues with the electronics component of the outdoor unit (high replacement rate for TRIAs).

That issue notwithstanding, that leaves service and appearance. Do you want a white 39x29" dish, or a black 26" dish? Do you want tech support from India (Hughes) or from America (Wildblue)? Do you plan to do a few very large downloads per month (get Wildblue) or spread smaller downloads out on a more regular basis (get Hughes). Do you live in an area that experiences regular heavy rain? (get Hughes)? Is your rain lighter and less frequent (get Wildblue)?

We consumer grade satellite internet users generally have a love-hate relationship with our providers. We love not having to rely on dialup, but hate having to deal with some of the quirks of satellite connections that you won't see on terrestrial broadband alternatives. But this love hate business comes in varying shades. In your case, you need to weigh the features of both providers - then select the one which best suits your specific needs (or may upset you the least in the future).

//greg//
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Reply #7 - Nov 8th, 2007 at 5:48pm  
I'm hoping someone in this forum can help me!  My mother in rural Indiana recently got Starband satellite service for her Internet usage (she previously had dial-up service).  We couldn't find any other satellite provider that covered her area, so we were left with Starband.  The service has been much faster than her dial-up, but we've encountered numerous problems trying to set her up with a Skype web cam.  (The comments posted here have been the most useful information we have found, so I was hoping that someone could help me with this web cam problem.)  Every time she tried to use the web cam, she could see (and hear me), but I couldn't see or hear her.  And then her computer would freeze up, and the call would be disconnected.  She had service that was supposed to provide up to 512 Kbps download, and up to 128 Kbps upload.  However, she was only getting speeds of around 90 upload, so we thought the problem was being caused by the slow upload speed.  We then upgraded her to a more expensive service that was supposed to get up to 1024 Kbps download, and up to 256 Kbps upload.  However, she still has the same problem, and when she runs a speed test, she is still only getting around 90 Kbps upload.  I have tried to solve this problem (unsuccessfully) with Starband, but was wondering whether someone in this forum might have some ideas.  Is it still her upload speed that is causing the problems?  Could it be her computer (she has a computer that is almost 3 years old)?  I haven't seen anything in my research about why her computer is freezing up.  Please help!!  Thanks.
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Reply #8 - Nov 8th, 2007 at 6:37pm  
My guess is that it is not a speed issue but rather a latency issue.  There should have been no need to upgrade to a higher service level plan.

let's go to the issue of speed first.  with the modem directly connected to your PC or laptop and no router sitting between them go to a site where the tests are not java based test but actual upload and download FTP tests.  For the download test select the shuttle and text test.  with the Ultimate plan you should be seeing anywhere from 700 to 1100Kbps down.
Next select the upload test and select the sample picture A by right clicking and saving it to your desktop.
now browse to that file and upload it back to them.  You should be seeing anywhere from 150 to 270Kbps depending on time of day.

On the camera, in order to mitigate latency somewhat select a refresh rate that is at least 1 second.  be aware that you will quickly eat up your allowable bandwidth by stream from that camera.  If at all possible, plan your heaviest use of the network between the hours of 1AM and 7AM EST.  During that period the entire Starband network is FAP free and you can download and up load to your hearts content without it counting against your allowable totals.  Right now, on the higher priced plan you are allowed 3.5GB in a 7 day rolling average.  On Dec 17th you will be able to upgrade for free to a plan that will give you 5GB in a 7 day rolling average and increase your download speeds to 1500Kbps.  the plan will cost $99 per month with a 24 month commitment.

let us know how the tests go and the camera functions with a lower refresh rate.
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« Last Edit: Nov 17th, 2014 at 9:19am by Admin1 »  
 
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Reply #9 - Dec 19th, 2007 at 4:01am  
It's great to learn more about the unique issues with satellite internet. Thanks for your insight.

I also have a question concerning my Starband service with the 360 modem which you may be able to answer: We've had our Starband system for several years, circa 1999, and have had only minor issues with software conflicts and replaced one modem but currently we are having a difficulty which perplexes us entirely.

During a block of time each day starting about 3 weeks ago our modem can't make the connection to the network. At those times when I power up the modem, I get PWR; 2 x scroll through PC, Tx, Con and Syn; Rx blicks and then only the PWR and PC lights remain lit. The block of time ranges between 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM and 4:30 PM to 7 PM Pacific time. When I am able to get PWR, Rx, SYN and CON and proceed to boot up the computer I get a fairly good outbound signal quality between 6.7 and 7. I always power off both the modem and the PC when I am not using them since we rely on solar photovoltaics for power and are limited during the short days, however, one day I tried leaving the modem on when I got a connection and kept the four lights for as long as the modem was powered on. As soon as I turned off the power and re-tried the connection I was unable to get four lights until the evening. The Starband tech helpfully suggest I study the training materials but we are both puzzled. Do you think the traffic issue you mentioned could have an effect on the initial connection to the network?      
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Reply #10 - Dec 24th, 2007 at 2:48am  
I am in the middle of moving to Central America but still living in Los Angeles.
I just got my Hughesnet set-up but still have my DSL internet.

To be honest: Hughesnet is not anything like DSL -- the time to connect is much longer-- but I do not want to move down to Belize and have to wait a month for tel. and internet.

So I got the Hughesnet account about a month ago and was set up with the 99 Satellite Satellite G16/G4R-20K.
This was horrable and I switched to Satmex 5 (which will be working fine in Central America).

My account --a business account for $99/month-- was not working for Satmex 5 as this sat only works for personal accounts with lower speed.

So I switched to Satmex 6 and I do get excellent speeds and so far -- after a few days-- my Hughesnet seems to work fine also and especially with Skype and Vonage; yes there is a delay/latency and sometimes an eco, it will remind you on long distance calls 10-15 years ago.
I am also taking my Dishnetwork account to Central America; see my postings at DBSForums.com in the Latin America sections.

ww

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Reply #11 - Feb 11th, 2008 at 7:48pm  
I'd try HughesNet services. It all depends on what you're after but it's well worth the look.
I have a residential service but I think they can do a better business service.
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