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Ask Slashdot: Good Satellite Internet For Remote Locations? 175

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-of-the-best dept.
EdIII writes "I've been looking for a decent contention service (4:1,10:1) in South America and I am not finding much. I have also heard that some frequency bands are a lot better at cutting through cloud cover. This is for a fairly remote ground station with reliable power generation, but also routinely cloudy. I would need at least 3/1Mbps with hopefully decent latency. What's your advice Slashdotters? Yes, I know that some of the solutions can cost 20K for deployment and 2-10K per month for service. Feel free to to tell me about a good commercial service. There is another ground station that might be deployed in north east Alaska."
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Ask Slashdot: Good Satellite Internet For Remote Locations?

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  • There are none (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Apathy (584315) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:01PM (#45330025)

    Simple answer is you won't. There are no "good" satellite internet for anything. With luck you might find "adequate" or "usable" satellite internet. But don't let any one lie to you and tell you that they have "good" satellite internet. There is no such thing.

    • Re:There are none (Score:5, Informative)

      by mache (210555) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:09PM (#45330121)

      I agree. You have to understand that most Internet communications satellites are in geo-stationary orbit at an altitude of 25,000 miles. With the speed of light limited to 186,000 miles per second and a round trip of 50,000 miles a quick calculations shows a minimum latency of around a 0.27 seconds and that is just signal travel time and not any processing overhead.

      -- Mache

      • What we were told when Hughes satellite service was going to be offered through Earthlink was that you can expect a 10 second ping time -- a request from a computer goes to one star, bounces back to a receiver in Texas, gets resent to another star, and comes back to the recipient. Or quoting the trainer: "Having 8,000 miles between you and the Internet is not a good idea."

        It was basically a functional connection if you're going strictly for useful data and not trying to have fun, which I derive is what th

        • "Having 8,000 miles between you and the Internet is not a good idea."

          It's more like 22,000+ miles up, 22,000+ miles down, and whatever the distance is between your satellite provider's earth station and wherever the server is that you're trying to reach. Even at the speed of light, it takes a little while. Real world ping times over VSAT satellite connections are more in the 1-3 second range though, not 10.

          • by LandGator (625199)
            Clarke orbit is 22,236 miles above the center of the earth, not above the surface. Subtract the radius of the Earth (3,959 miles) and if he was on the equator at sea level, the distance from earth station to satellite would be 18,277 miles. That would result in a minimum transit time, each way, of 98ms. But, he's not equatorial, neither in Sud America nor Alaska, so I can't do the math without knowing LAT/LON. Add to that the lag inherent in processing the signal, and it starts looking sick.
        • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Monday November 04, 2013 @05:11PM (#45330753)
          I'm not sure what moron told you 10 second latency but as a former NA Hughes customer I can tell you it was an order of magnitude less. Best/worst case was 700/1500ms respectively using their consumer equipment. Unless you're doing FPS games, or VOIP you'd hardly notice the latency. Business wise, Hughes also does a pretty good job of taking care of their customers. The support escalation ladder is short and getting to engineer level staff painless. Having had to deal with Crapcast support and their half measure remedies, I've found myself wondering if I might not be better off switching back and taking the performance hit.
          • by cusco (717999)

            What about terminal server access? I'm looking at semi-retiring to Peru, to do some part-time work from there on contract basis. I first used remote desktop with a dial-up modem so I know that I can back off the video settings to lower the amount of data to be transmitted, I'm hoping that RDP handling has improved enough that a mouse stays useable during the entire session (which used to be a real problem).

            • by xaxa (988988)

              What about terminal server access? I'm looking at semi-retiring to Peru, to do some part-time work from there on contract basis.

              To a city, or somewhere remote? In a city I expect the mobile broadband is fine, if you can't get a wired connection. You might be OK for somewhere rural too.

              (I've not been to Peru, but don't underestimate Internet availability in developing countries. e.g. Vietnam had free wifi everywhere, and £3 gave me unlimited 3G internet for a month, which worked everywhere except a remote mountain valley. Peru seems a bit expensive ($40-50 for ADSL) but not totally crazy.)

              Expat or backpacking forums are prob

              • by cusco (717999)

                Paruro, about 30 straight-line miles (2 1/2 hours by bus, as there are no straight lines) from Cusco. The connectivity in Cusco is great, in Paruro the single local cell tower covers several thousand people and is frequently saturated just with phone usage. ADSL might be the only option, but land-line connectivity is flaky at best and sometimes will go down for days at a time (which partly accounts for the number of cellphone users).

            • Unless you're on a LAN, RDP will suck, there's just no real substitute for real-time feedback and RDP is incapable of addressing that. If you require fine-grained mouse interaction you'll be frustrated with satellite. If you're primarily doing text entry you should find it manageable. Think of it this way, if you can live with receiving your feedback about a second after any action you perform then satellite will work for you.
        • I use wild blue and ping reply from yahoo.com is 0.6 seconds.
        • by Cramer (69040)

          Actually, it's more like 1.5s. (based on a BGAN system [inmarsat.com] in my driveway. 1.2s from the walmart parking lot -- wide open sky) It's the most expensive [groundcontrol.com] internet I know of, but it works f'ing everywhere. (Antarctica not included.)

      • by skelly33 (891182)
        I'm no space-radio expert, but.... wouldn't the latency be double that estimate? If it's 25K miles in altitude, and since, last I checked, the Internet itself is not in orbit, then it would be 25K up, 25K down to the target host, then 25K up and 25K back down again for the reply for a total of 100K and more than half a second for a full round trip. Que no?
        • by Spazmania (174582)

          Correct, round trip packet time through a geostationary satallite link is a minimum of around 0.5 seconds.

          There are other options that don't travel as far (e.g. Iridium is in LEO, 500 miles or so up) but AFAIK none are designed to Internet service at usable bandwidths.

      • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@cGINSBERGarpanet.net minus poet> on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:28PM (#45330323) Homepage

        > With the speed of light limited to 186,000 miles per second and a round trip of 50,000 miles a quick
        > calculations shows a minimum latency of around a 0.27 seconds and that is just signal travel time
        > and not any processing overhead.

        And assuming the remote side is part of the satellite and doesn't add another 50k mile round trip, before adding land latencies.

        Clearly there is only one fix here, we need to ask congress to allow geostationary satellites at lower altitudes, AND to raise the speed limit on light. I can't believe they haven't addressed these issues!

        • by jIyajbe (662197)

          Dear Slashdot,

          Please revoke the UIDs of whomever modded this "Insightful", and permanently ban them.

          Oh, and to TheCarp: *I* got your jokes.

        • Congress _could_ help by throwing $$,$$$,$$$ at http://server-sky.com/ [server-sky.com] - no reason why servers have to be ground bound.
        • by uncqual (836337) on Monday November 04, 2013 @05:49PM (#45331015)

          Clearly there is only one fix here, we need to ask congress to allow geostationary satellites at lower altitudes, AND to raise the speed limit on light. I can't believe they haven't addressed these issues!

          Typical "big government" wasteful spending. All Congress has to do is increase the speed of light by 100x, then there would be no need to allow geostationary satellites at lower altitudes. I'll bet you were hoping to bid on the contract for lowering geostationary satellites to new lower altitudes - nice try, we are on to your scheme.

          • by TheCarp (96830)

            Nope, I wanted to bid on the contract to supply the fuel required to keep satelites in lower geosync orbits. Cha-ching! Actually you know....excuse me while I go write some proposals......

      • by t4ng* (1092951)

        Add to that, some satellite internet services use DSL for the upstream connection, which wouldn't work at all for a remote station in South America.

        GlobalStar is a low earth orbit (about 60 miles up) satellite communications system that can do internet traffic. Latency will be much lower than a geo-stationary satellite. But speed will be low (about the same as a phone modem) unless you tie several channels together. To keep satellite costs down, the system is a "bent-pipe," so availability will depend on

        • by schnell (163007)

          some satellite internet services use DSL for the upstream connection

          I've never heard of that... can you expound?

          GlobalStar is a low earth orbit (about 60 miles up)

          That would be REALLY low orbit. :-) That's basically the Karman line [wikipedia.org], which would be a ticket to almost immediate atmospheric blowtorching at the the speed required to orbit there. Multiply that altitude by about four and you're in the right ballpark for LEO.

          To keep satellite costs down, the system is a "bent-pipe," so availability will depend on whether GlobalStar has a ground station somewhere near where you are using it. Having to license ground stations in hundreds of different countries is what really held back development of this system.

          Very true. The good news is that Globalstar does have coverage of most of the world's landmasses, or at least the part that have many people in them. Globalstar even has a map up of where they cover [wikipedia.org]. Globalsta

    • Re:There are none (Score:4, Informative)

      by sabri (584428) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:09PM (#45330125)

      Simple answer is you won't.

      Ever heard of Exede [exede.com]? Viasat [viasat.com] has its own satellite [wikipedia.org] in orbit and offers consumer internet. Pricing starts at $50 for 12 down, 3 up. Yes, latency may ruin your Skype session, but you know that will happen with any satellite link.

      • Re:There are none (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Omega Hacker (6676) <omegaNO@SPAMomegacs.net> on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:19PM (#45330211)

        I'm also looking for options for South America, and it's pretty clear from the Wikipedia description of ViaSat-1 that they have no transponders pointed anywhere other than the US and Canada. That puts it out of the running for both the OP's primary goal and mine.

        • by puto (533470)
          Where in South America, I just spent five years living in Colombia, and I had a 10 meg down connection via fiber(which translated to about 4 meg in real world terms) and when I am traveling down there now for work I am either on wifi or tethering via 4g on my cell using Claro, and it worked even in the remotest locations in the andes. DSL is pretty common even in small towns, but as long as the small town has TelMex cable you can get decent home and internet service. The only place I do not have it is on
        • ViaSat-2 is planned to hit some areas of northern South America. (http://www.viasat.com/news/viasat-announces-next-generation-broadband-satellite). Granted, it's not until 2016, but the roadmap is there. Perhaps carrier pigeons will be a viable alternative until then?
      • Yes, latency may ruin your Skype session, but you know that will happen with any satellite link.

        Which completely validates my original statement that you won't find any "good" satellite internets. If the latency is a constant issue with your session then it will never be "good" but only usable.

        Then there is the question of download limits. I know of no satellite internet providers that have decent download limits. Most are limited to a few hundred mb a day or a score of gb a month.

        Hardly what I would call "good."

        • by Richy_T (111409)

          It depends on your definition of good. I had satellite once and for my purposes, it was more than adequate. Download speeds were even pretty respectable.

          It ceased to be "good" in my book when the device went from being a fully fledged package to a winmodem.

        • Skype calls would be similar to sat phone conversations. There will be delays between your question and his reply but the conversation itself should be fine (or at least usable). You can see this demonstrated during news reports when they interview a reporter in a remote wilderness via Skype.
      • Yes, latency may ruin your Skype session, but you know that will happen with any satellite link.

        I think there's a discrepancy between what your and OP's definitions of the term, "good internet," are.

        I.e., if the latency is so high the user can't engage in certain, normal online activities (like a Skype call or pwning chumps in CoD), in Lord Apathy's eyes it falls more under the "adequate or usable" category, rather than "good."

        I tend to agree with them, personally.

      • Re:There are none (Score:4, Informative)

        by bugs2squash (1132591) on Monday November 04, 2013 @05:12PM (#45330761)

        Actually Skype (google+ etc.) video and VOIP all work pretty well over Exede as it has ample bandwidth to support HD and the delay is much lower than older solutions. You should try them out for yourself.

        The problem with coverage of far N. Alaska is that any geostationary satellite appears near to or below the horizon (for the same reason that the sun is) causing scintillation and line-of-sight issues . S. Alaska is fine though. C-band is pretty much immune to rain, but there is such limited capacity available, it's expensive, there may be licensing issues, it usually uses larger antennas etc. Ku band was state of the art 10 years ago but Ka band is the new thing. Both Ku and Ka band is affected by rain, but these days the systems compensate for rain to the extent that they can by adjusting power levels, symbol rates or forward error correction, it makes them pretty robust, much more robust than older solutions.

        Disclaimer: I'm in the business

      • Pricing starts at $50 for 12 down, 3 up.

        ...with a 10 GB cap. That's a bad joke.

    • Re:There are none (Score:5, Informative)

      by schnell (163007) <me@scLAPLACEhnell.net minus math_god> on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:24PM (#45330273) Homepage

      There are none

      Correct in terms of what the submitter asked for, but he/she pretty much asked for the moon and the stars (no pun intended). There are usable services out there but, to your point, they don't provide anything like what was requested.

      I can't speak to what's available in South America, but in the US you can find cheap satellite Internet service for around $200 upfront and $50 a month but the contention ratios are several hundred to one. For lower contention ratios like 10:1, you'll need a business class service that will run anywhere from $200 to $800/month for VSAT... a dedicated broadband SCPC connection with no contention is easily $10K or more per month and just as much or more for equipment.

      If you're living in somewhere far North where the line of sight is lower and weather is worse, expect that upfront VSAT equipment will quickly run up to a couple thousand dollars since you need a bigger dish and higher-power transmitter. The "rain fade" thing the submitter refers to is particularly a problem with Ka-band services that are used on the consumer-grade services; enterprise-grade Ku-band services have much less of a problem with it. If you throw at 2-meter dish and an 8-watt transmitter at the problem, you can burn through almost any weather on either Ka or Ku, but again, that's a lot of $$$ to spend on the equipment.

      BTW these are all for VSAT "broadband-ish" services using geosynchronous orbit satellites so you have a minimum real world latency of 600 ms. I saw another poster refer to using Iridium to get lower ping times (since that's Low Earth Orbit) but Iridium is just not usable for anything above 128 kbps in the best possible circumstance. It's just physics at work ... an omnidirectional transmitter looking at LEO satellites whizzing overhead can't bring to bear the right amount of power as you get with a fixed dish always pointed at one point in the sky.

      Long story short: satellite Internet is something you use because you have to, not because you want to. Lower your expectations and you'll find something economically reasonable. Keep your expectations high and you just won't be able to pay for it unless you're turning around and selling some of that bandwidth to others to defray the cost... and even then it's iffy.

    • Re:There are none (Score:5, Interesting)

      by neorush (1103917) on Monday November 04, 2013 @05:35PM (#45330927) Homepage
      I've been a satellite internet user for ~10 years, I have used both wildblue and hughesnet. The big problem for regular internet use is not latency, my current hughesnet connection:
      Pinging google.com [173.194.33.4] with 32 bytes of data:
      Reply from 173.194.33.4: bytes=32 time=775ms TTL=54
      Reply from 173.194.33.4: bytes=32 time=1013ms TTL=54
      Reply from 173.194.33.4: bytes=32 time=1108ms TTL=54
      Reply from 173.194.33.4: bytes=32 time=1098ms TTL=54
      Ping statistics for 173.194.33.4: Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
      Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds: Minimum = 775ms, Maximum = 1108ms, Average = 998ms
      While this makes online gaming pretty much impossible, you can reasonably browse the web send emails, etc....though.

      The REALLY BIG PROBLEM is bandwidth. I am on the most expensive package hughesnet provides...and that is 450MB a day. Which again is fine for checking email and 'normal' web browsing (according to hughesnet) but any kind of downloading, like for instance my new smartTV with built in YouTube and Netflix, yeah, useless. I switched from Wildblue to hughesnet a few years ago because wildblue uses a 30 day bandwidth total like most cell services, so if you use all 15GB of bandwidth in the first week, you have to wait until the end of the billing cycle to get more bandwidth. Hughesnet is a 24 hour cycle, so after 24hrs you get your 450 mb and are back to normal speed.
      The other nice thing about hughesnet is they let you keep your previous days unused bandwidth, so if I do not use the internet for a day, the next day I will have 900mb of bandwidth to use, if I have 100mb left at the end of the day, I get 550mb the next day, etc...of course the "pool" maxes at 2 days worth of bandwidth. Both services also have a 2am to 7am unlimited bandwidth, the problem is it feels like the connection drops to a crawl during this time, and the normal 300 kb/s I would get during the day is more like 20 or 30kb/s. But at least I have my linux servers and windows updates scheduled to run during this time.
      By the way, I live in NY, and there is not even cell service at my house. Currently it looks as if I will have satellite internet for the foreseeable future.
      • by evilviper (135110)

        By the way, I live in NY, and there is not even cell service at my house. Currently it looks as if I will have satellite internet for the foreseeable future.

        How far from the edge of cellular coverage are you? The limiting factor tends to be ground-level obstacles, so I'd try climbing up to the roof, and putting a cell phone on a pole, walking it around to seeing if I could get 1-bar. If so, a cell signal booster (or a MiFi device) on such a pole would give you access to much cheaper and lower-latency acce

    • I signed up with Wild Blue about ten years ago; they were bought out a year or two ago (by Exide?) but I haven't noticed any change in service. I am very happy with them as far as doing the best any sat connection can do. So here are the caveats:

      1. Ping time is routinely 1.5 seconds, sometimes as fast as 1.3. Don't think I've ever seen faster.

      2. Speed of light time is 1/2 second; up, down, up, down; 4 x 36K km = 144 kn = 1/2 second. Whoever said .27 forgot about the round trip. I assume the sats and

      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        Bandwidth isn't the killer, it's the latency. Ask the com root server who ibm.com is. Ask ibm.com who www.ibm.com is. Ask www.ibm.com for index.html. Find the css, ask ibm.com who css.ibm.com is. And so on, all at 1.5 seconds each. It's pretty frustrating sometimes. Some web sites are very unfriendly for slow latency connections.

        which is why you run a caching only dns server on your local network right?

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      In a remote location, there is. Because "good" is better than nothing.

      If it's for dinking around on Facebook, then just get whatever, if it's for making money he needs to get TWO competing services not hosted on the same bird in the sky and set up load balancing. Heughesnet and ViaSat at the same time. He then needs to hire someone that has a clue that will install the dishes with the largest dish size they can get as he will need a buttload of gain to make it work through all weather. The dishes w

  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:04PM (#45330051) Homepage Journal

    Well, if you want decent latency from a satellite network, I think the LEO Iridium constellation might be your only option: 10-20ms rtt vs. 500-600ms rtt for any geosynchronous satellite.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/49385912/Iridium-9602-Data-and-Inmarsat-C-latency [scribd.com]

    Though actually, it looks like the practical rtt to another the internet can take 1800ms over Iridium, since it has to bounce the signal around other nodes until it can get to one of its ground stations :/

    Of course, Iridium data rates are in dial-up territory. It seems like you might be able to get low-cost consumer grade satellite services from DirecTV or something, using Iridium as the dial-up uplink component. But it also sounds like you'll be transmitting more data than you'll be receiving, if this is for data collection :/

    Given that it also sounds likely you're looking at remote sites near the poles, Iridium may be your only option, since it gets pretty difficult to hit geosynchronous satellites beyond 70 deg latitude. So you might want to be optimizing your data transfer needs to fit through a tiny pipe, augmented via occasional sneakernet.

    In short: :/

    • by rwa2 (4391) * on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:37PM (#45330413) Homepage Journal

      Actuall, it looks like you might possibly be covered in the Inmarsat territory, which goes to roughly 82deg latitude with a corresponding drop in bandwidth.
      http://www.roadpost.com/inmarsat_coverage.aspx [roadpost.com]

      I did a little project using a 5/1Mbps Inmarsat uplink. It was basically on a little gateway device that acted as a bandwidth optimizing proxy for the LAN. You'd probably want something similar to do transparent compression / packet traffic shaping / TCP window tuning etc. to get the most out of your link, if it works at all.

      Ah, yes, this brings me back to my mirroring Sunsite over a 9600k modem days...

      • I did some work with both Iridium and Inmarsat on a project a while back. It's been a while, so my comments are mostly qualitative, not quantitative.

        Iridium offers a global array with redundant satellites (which is good since they lost a few a few years back), while Inmarsat uses a directional antenna relies on you being able to actually aim an antenna. If you're in the Inmarsat range of coverage (and pretty much everyplace habitable is), I'd recommend it. You can get a ethernet-ready single package antenna

    • by Spazmania (174582) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:50PM (#45330563) Homepage

      Iridium data rates are 0.0024 mbps, up and down. On the plus side,they give you that data rate everywhere in the world.

      You get 10 to 20 ms to the satellite orbiting 500ish miles away. To actually talk to anything on the ground, your signal is relayed to other satellites, down to Arizona and then across the Internet. If you gang a bunch of channels together to get a dialup-grade data rate (20ish channels yields the equivalent of a 56k modem), you can probably come in at half the latency of a geostationary satellite. Still pretty high though.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:05PM (#45330067)

    Translation: "Dear Slashdot, the last RF engineer we kidnapped and enslaved has unfortunately died, can you please suggest a commercial and less bleedy replacement for our darknet?"

  • As for Alaska (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In alaska GCI (And I think ACS) are deploying a system for remote internet access via microwaves / raidowaves see: http://www.gci.com/terra you may be able to work with them to get internet at a remote location.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Now I know Americans are quite geographically-challenged, but I thought at least you guys know the difference between North (where Alaska is) and South (where South America is - that one is easy, it's in the name even).

      By the way, Antarctica is also not exactly close to Alaska. Hint: it's even more south than South America.

  • I know someone in the US who uses HughesNet and she likes it. It looks like their service is available [bentley-walker.com] in S. A. as well. Of course for what you are asking it better be worth it.

    Plan: 2048/256 FAP Free DOWN/UP: 2048Kbps/256Kbps monthly: $1,207.50 modem :FREE
  • Whats your budget? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fredde87 (946371) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:20PM (#45330219)
    I know you say that you know of solutions which cost 2-10K, but what is your actual budget? A fixed VSAT install seems to be what you are after, it will give you 600-700ms return latency but it will give your decent speed (go for a DVB-S2 service for good value for money). However, you will be looking in that price range you mentioned... I only working with roaming VSAT services (where you have access to beams on various satellites all over the world). We pay $18K per month for a committed rate of 2048/256 which is burstable up to 10240/256. A fixed service on one beam will be significantly cheaper then that though...
    • by Fredde87 (946371) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:21PM (#45330237)
      Ohh yeah and I forgot to mention weather. It will work fine through cloud, but you will loose service during heavy rain (at either your end or the earth stations end). To be weather proof you will want to look into a C-band based VSAT service (the previous service I was referring to was a Ku-band based VSAT).
  • More details please (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bluefirebird (649667) on Monday November 04, 2013 @04:23PM (#45330263)

    First you need to mention where you are exactly. Internet service over satellite is usually sold through local providers. Furthermore, different satellites have different coverage areas.

    Second, if you want high speed broadband, you will need a Ku/Ka band (small antennas) satellite terminal. The problem is that in South America, it is more common to use C band (big antennas) satellite terminals that are slower than Ku band since the spectral bandwidth is smaller and more expensive.

    Third, the latency is basically the same for all Geostationary satellites and in practical terms is about 250ms from the transmission latency and 150ms for the latency of the entire transmission chain. As systems improve, this latency gets reduced but the transmission latency only depends on the relative position of the terminal to the satellite and the speed of light.

    Forth, above 70C latitude it is not possible to provide Internet over satellite with geostationary orbit since there isn't enough visibility of the satellite on the horizon.

    • by Arker (91948)

      Eh, C band would probably be better, he mentions reliability and weather issues. Ku/Ka band just doesnt cut through rain the way C band does.

    • by tygt (792974)

      First you need to mention where you are exactly. Internet service over satellite is usually sold through local providers. Furthermore, different satellites have different coverage areas.

      As long as you can see a satellite in geostationary orbit, you should be able to get service one way or another - you may need to purchase the service in USA and then set it up yourself, but that's pretty simple. If you've got a remote research station, my guess is there's tougher things involved in your existence.

      Forth, abo

      • by cusco (717999)

        They were referring to the possibility of a future site in Alaska.

        Hughes told me (a couple of years ago) that the price for the service depended on the country where I would be receiving it. The price was much lower in the US than it would have been from Peru. Can I pay for the service in the US but get it in Peru? I think it would use a different satellite, wouldn't it?

        • by tygt (792974)

          Peru is at the same longitude as the Eastern US. I'd guess that using an Eastern US address to get service would get you assigned to a satellite that's useful up and down the globe from there.

          I seem to remember back when I had service that I lost my line-of-sight due to vegetation encroachment, and I pointed my dish at a different satellite - one that was in a different longitudinal band; I'm pretty sure I still had service. I know this will work with Dish TV as I've done it within better memory (there must

        • IDK if it's still true, but back in the late 1990s every country had a different policy regarding satellite connections. Some of them did not allow either up or down, some had onerous fees and taxes (and often bribes), some allowed but you had to register the equipment and the service. And, of course, companies will charge what the market will bear in each country.

    • Forth, above 70C latitude it is not possible to provide Internet over satellite with geostationary orbit since there isn't enough visibility of the satellite on the horizon.

      Is this because of literal line-of-sight issues or is it due to sending the signal "diagonally" through the atmosphere? Would locating the antenna on the south side of a hill help?

  • there is no such thing as 'good' satellite internet. it will ALWAYS go out when it rains, or if theres a cloudy sky, or if there are trees between the antenna and the satellite, or if it is windy, or any number of other occurrences that happen daily. satellite internet is a thing of the past. just get together with all your neighbors and fund a fiberoptic cable from the nearest city to your area.
    • by cusco (717999)

      You haven't spent any time in South America, I take it. My house in Paruro is only about 30 miles from Cusco. The line would have to cross 80+ farmers' fields, cross three mountain ranges, one of them over 14,000 feet, cross two rivers, and require planting poles in bedrock, clay, landslide zones and swamp. IOW, you have no fucking idea what the hell you're talking about.

      • by Xicor (2738029)
        my point was that theres no such thing as good satellite internet. the whole fiberoptic cable thing was more of a joke, since he doesnt live in a first world country. it doesnt change the fact that you cant get a decent internet connection in the middle of nowhere without some seriously expensive hardware.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadband_Global_Area_Network [wikipedia.org] describes the BGAN system using Inmarsat's I-4 birds, which sells data two ways:

    Streaming: A guaranteed delivery style of service, billed by cumulative time of use. A terminal requests a context of X bandwidth (currently 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, or 256kbit/s) and, if there your current spot beam has enough resources available, you are allocated a guaranteed chunk of the available bandwidth. So if you ask for an 8k streaming context, you will at all t
    • by isorox (205688)

      Inmarsat are testing out a new terminal which offers faster rates 1 the HDR terminal. It's still a little buggy, but it did work. That tops out at about 700kbit uplink though on the streaming (guaranteed bandwidth) service.

      Last I heard there were only 4 terminals in the world.

  • Considering that geostationary orbits are 22,236 miles above the equator, that's your minimum distance to the satellite. If you're as far south as the Tropic of Capricorn (23.5 south), the satellite is a minimum of 22,906 miles away - assuming that it's at the same longitude that you are. If you're a ways off east or west, the distance to the satellite may be higher... so let's go with 23,000 miles - one way to the satellite.

    To calculate your round-trip ping, realize that your ping packet has to travel:

  • My company uses Harris Caprock for satelite links. We use them for locations where ground network is not available (mainly Africa in our case, but also on our ships). We use them for our corporate network, but as far as I know, they also offer intenet access.

    There is a coverage map at http://www.harriscaprock.com/coverage.php [harriscaprock.com]
  • someone figures out how to circumvent several laws of physics. When that happens I will be the first to sign up.
  • In Summary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EndlessNameless (673105) on Monday November 04, 2013 @05:18PM (#45330807)

    Get Iridium for latency-sensitive traffic (if you have any) and a geosync provider for bandwidth, and then configure QoS on your router to meet your needs.

    The cost of a decent router will be incremental compared to the dishes, and you gain a degree of redundancy. (Latency will go out of spec or bandwidth will be at capacity, depending on which link failed, but it is better than nothing. At least you can send an email explaining the situation.)

  • Without knowing where you are it may be possible to
    communicate via WiFi balloons. With sufficient height
    it is possible to reach well beyond the 20 miles that the
    curve of the earth imposes.

    Ultra light aluminized Mylar permits antenna gain
    and up/ horizontal isolation.

    Pringles can antenna links..... for the hill country.

    Modern chip solutions have such improved signal to noise
    and low power profiles that the big expensive micro-wave tower
    solutions are less interesting than they once were.

    There is a lot that can

  • Depending how far you are from the nearest wire, a microwave link may be feasible, faster, and cheaper.

    Of course if you're in a mountain valley 1000mi from anywhere, that's obviously not possible. (well, without repeaters and such).

    Need more infos.

  • by Strider- (39683) on Monday November 04, 2013 @05:54PM (#45331051)

    I'm in the satellite business myself, and the reality is that satellite capacity is expensive, no matter how you you look at it. As a rough rule of thumb, satellite capacity prices roughly at $6000/MHz/Month. If you do the math, this basically works out to $6-10 per kbps per month, and that's assuming at least a 2 year contract. So if you had a 1Mbps connection with a 4:1 contention ratio, you're still looking at $1500 a month. The economics change a little if you own a whole transponder (Typically a few million dollars a year for 36Mhz), but even then it's not cheap. The only way that DirecWay and the other satellite ISPs can keep their prices within the realm of reason for the average user is by having insane contention ratios, and draconian "Fair Access Policies"

    It sucks, but there's not much that will reduce these prices. There are only so many active geosynchronous satellites that can be up there, and there's only a limited amount of spectrum available. Even if SpaceX cuts the launch costs by 80%, the prices won't go down, that just means the satellite operators will be (more) profitable. The end-user pricing is demand driven, not cost driven.

  • So do you want to have just one contention, or were you thinking of taking a course?

  • you might want to give give exede a look its cheap as 50$ a month for 10gb a month or 130$ for 25gb it might not sound like alot but from 12am to 5am the caps are lifted and you can use all the data you like. the caps also only apply to video/audio streaming not webpages. my buddy has it and shes been very happy with it she only has the 10gb plain and only went over the cap once because of just not waiting until 12 to watch videos. it is fast 12mbs but it is still satellite so the pings will be hi so gami
  • Satellite sucks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby AT comcast DOT net> on Monday November 04, 2013 @06:28PM (#45331335)

    I've had to do architecture work for sites (oil derricks, mines in the outback etc) that had satellite only links off and on over my career. What I've learned is that satellite will work, but it doesn't tend to work when you want it. You also have to be very careful about bandwidth provisioning for what you sending over the connection and overages can be very expensive. Latency is terrible, weather impacts it, but it does eventually go through. If you are only setting up a single link the cost is more, if you can get a contract for a number of sites it will help quite a bit with cost. You have to have very strict discipline on network utilization or you can see overages in the tens of thousands of dollars in a heartbeat.

    In one case I had to send out about 40 GB of data to a number of sites and ran the numbers for the costs. When everything was said and done I literally ended up sending out teams of techs to oil rigs in the Indian Ocean on the weekly helicopter trip with a pair of server hard drives. It was cheaper to pay their overtime for the entire week than the overage on the bandwidth for satellite links. As long as we were paying for them to be out there we took advantage and went ahead and did a large amount of overdue maintenance anyways, but it still cost a fortune.

    • by luther349 (645380)
      well that's kinda odd it must not be the new via sat i looked up a commercial one for my rv because they dont offer a mobile residential one the dish was not cheap in the range of 1500$ but the service was 2mbs with no caps for 200$ a month.
      • by onyxruby (118189)

        Your consumer grade service isn't offered in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Australian Outback or other places that need industrial grade service.

        • by luther349 (645380)
          lol guess you failed to see i said commercial grade because they did not offer mobile at a consumer mobile sat they have to be fixed.
        • by luther349 (645380)
          but yea the problem in those areas i know a few people there is they have some shitty isp laws. they do offer consumer sat service in those areas but only if you cant get a landline. but if you can get a landline or even shitty 3g and i mean shitty they force you to buy industrial sat service and some crazy rates and they have some old systems still going slow and expensive. basically its the telco monopoly at work there.
  • You can optimize your connection using an optimizing proxy hardwired to the Internet. The proxy can reduce some of the latency by doing dns lookups for you and reducing page sizes. It won't make real time apps like VOIP any better. There are also services like this available: http://www.vortexvpn.com/ [vortexvpn.com] or Opera browser, etc. I think even Chrome has it available.

    • by luther349 (645380)
      ping on voip does not matter much it just means there might be a few second delay in the calls but once your talking you wont notice.a difference.
  • I used a VSAT Terminal (Commercial account, not residential) to backhaul dial up users for a few years. We paid about $1750 per month for 4mbps down, 1.5mbps up. The latency was between 1500-3300ms nearly always. It wasn't bad for dial up, but wouldn't stand up for any kind of broadband.
  • Your options: (Score:4, Informative)

    by c-A-d (77980) on Monday November 04, 2013 @07:17PM (#45331739) Homepage

    As a satellite technician, I think I can help answer some of your questions.

    1. "I have also heard that some frequency bands are a lot better at cutting through cloud cover".
    This is true. C-band has about 10dB less rainfade than Ku-band does, and Ku outperforms Ka-band as well (Not sure of the exact number as I don't do a lot of Ka links). C-band also requires larger dishes. You have to take into account what the acceptable availability is as well. 99% availability is quite possible and just requires a proper link budget (basically a series of calculations of gains and losses in the signal path which takes into account dish diameters/efficiencies, weather and satellite properties, among other things). Getting high reliability when taking into account weather is usually a lot easier on C-band, but if they are using an old bird with low output power or poor sensitivity, then a good Ku setup will outperform it.

    2. "I would need at least 3/1Mbps with hopefully decent latency"
    Latency is usually pretty fixed. The physics say it takes about 250ms for the signal to travel from your earth station to the satellite and back to the other earth station with an RTT of about 500ms. Any additional latencies are created by the FEC coders and access methods. The worst will probably be something that uses older Reed-Solomon over Viterbi (not used much anymore. Everyone has either already moved away from this 50 year old tech or is doing so right now) on a TDMA access system. I would expect an 850ms round trip time on this type of old system. The best will be a system that implements Turbo Product Coder or LDPC on an SCPC link (Dedicated link). I would expect about 600-650ms round trip. If you get on a shared network, anything modern will be using at least TPC and possibly LDPC if they're using DVB-S2 and you'll probably see an RTT of about 750ms (best guess on my part. each network is different). Additionally, using a shared access system will introduce jitter of which 50-100ms wouldn't be surprising to me. SCPC links tend to be quite good for lack of jitter. Getting the types of bandwidth you want is really a matter of contract.

    3. "I've been looking for a decent contention service (4:1,10:1)"
    On any shared access system, contention would be a matter of contract, and the lower the contention, the high the cost. When you start getting into 4:1 or better you're probably better off looking at a dedicated link, even if its not as fast as what the shared service is advertising. Personally, I'd actually rather pay for slower access with more generous transfer allowances than a fast connection with a really low transfer allowance. If you do go with a shared service, read their FAP carefully and calculate how much you can actually transfer taking into account transfer speed, FAP and transfer limits and compare this with your needs. It may also be to your benefit to either have multiple accounts with the same vendor or multiple vendors where you can switch between them as the month goes through. It could be cheaper than a more expensive link or cheaper than a dedicated link. Your budget will determine this.

    4. Regarding "Globalstar, Iridium, Inmarsat, Thuraya and other similar systems"
    These sorts of services will not provide the types of speeds you want and will cost you a small fortune in transfer fees, though they will have much lower latencies.

    Unfortunately, satellite space is very expensive, as strider- indicated (and without sounding like we're colluding, I do know that he knows the industry). You really get into the "fast cheap reliable - pick two" and it should be more like "fast cheap reliable - pick one and hope for another one.... the third is right out" when you are dealing with some of the shared access satellite providers.

  • Back in the late 1990s I worked for Schlumberger Ltd. Their remote well logging trucks, which can be found anywhere there might be oil, on land, used a Ku-band Very Small Aperture terminal [wikipedia.org]. They developed these in conjunction with Hughes. This system communicates with a geostationary satellite, using a dish mounted on the back of the truck. Back then they were running only 56Kb/s but according to the article cited it's available up to 4Mb/s today. A typical transmission from the truck could be hundreds

  • Dear Editors,
    Please post "Ask Slashdot" stories in the "Ask Slashdot" section. There's a reason Slashdot offers filters based on section, but it doesn't work if you don't post stories correctly.
    Thanks.
  • First, I have no affiliation with these people, but they sell worldwide and actually show pricing for real VSAT, not crappy HughesNet, Viasat, Starband, etc: http://www.groundcontrol.com/ [groundcontrol.com]

    Second, almost all satellite internet is from GEO orbit, as everyone has said, with massive latency; reducing contention is done with spot beams, but the catch is that, if you're not in the spot beam, you're out of luck: this is especially true of the new Ka-band services (Viasat-1, Gen-4 Hughesnet, and probably more coming

  • Currently just a little bit South of St. Matthew's (behind which we'll hide from the blow Tue night). We use KVH. Although the connection my employer purchased isn't as fast as what you want, it's been the fastest, most reliable service I've encountered so far. Their site says they sell 2/1M for land based use, so perhaps you could get two of 'em. Their coverage map includes South America.
  • Might as well set up a fairly powerful transmitter/receiver on the ground for data linkage. Radio will net you better data transmission and will tolerate your weather conditions much better. Plus you could very likely get many megabits out of a few channels properly multiplexed.

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