Satellite Internet Access is probably the most expensive high speed internet service for home users. However, in rural or remote areas where cable or DSL internet access is not available, satellite internet may be their only choice for high speed internet access.
Satellite internet is not delivered by phone line or cable but satellite dish. Your computer is connected to a satellite modem which is linked to a satellite dish (antenna) typically mounted on the roof of your home. When you browse a webpage, your request is sent to the satellite. The satellite then transmits a signal to the operation center of satellite internet provider. The webpage information is then beamed back to your computer through the same path.
Since the signal has to travel 35,000 km out into space to the satellite and back to earth again to reach the operation center, there may be a signal delay as much as 500 to 900 milliseconds. The actual delay is doubled as the signal from the satellite company has to travel the same distance to your computer. This signal delay may affect the performance of some real time applications such as online games.
Many satellite internet providers also have a Fair Access Policy (FAP). The satellite company can limit a customer’s throughput if his system usage exceeds a certain threshold (150-200Mb) for a period of time. Typically, the restrictions will be lifted within 8-12 hours of the original application of the FAP if the customer’s usage in this period stays below the FAP threshold.
FAP ensures all subscribers have fair and equal access to satellite broadband internet access, so that bandwidth is not taken up disproportionately by a small percentage of subscribers. For home users who just surf the internet and have small downloads, FAP is not likely to affect them. However, for those who have regular bandwidth intensive activities, FAP will limit their ability to complete large download in a reasonable amount of time.
Advantages of Satellite Internet Access:
- High speed internet access in rural / remote areas where cable and DSL are not available
- Does not tie up with local phone service or cable TV subscription
- Connection speed is not affected by phone or cable wiring
Disadvantages of Satellite Internet Access:
- More expensive than DSL and cable
- Large setup fee. Expensive equipment upfront. Has to be set up by trained technician.
- Short delay of signal transmission may affect real time applications
- Fair access policy limits the ability to download large files in reasonable amount of time
- Connection speed is slower than DSL and cable