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Satellite Broadband Providers - Review of Service Providers

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 3/28/2010

Satellite broadband providers are few and far between, and their services really only suit a certain type of Internet user with a particular need. Unsuitable for VOIP, online gaming and remote robot control, satellite broadband Internet is nevertheless ideal for connecting rural and remote areas.

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    Who Provides Satellite Broadband?

    Satellite broadband providers employ a network of geostationary satellites Satellite broadband providers are few and far between, but their services can mean the difference between rural isolation and online communication.

    There are a number of providers around the world, such as Ethnet in the UK and Europe and Hughesnet and WiildBlue in the USA. (Contrary to popular belief, Sky TV does not offer satellite broadband Internet.)

    Utilizing the link between a satellite and a reception dish mounted on the side of a property, in the attic or on the grounds of the property, satellite broadband allows the sending and receiving of information and enables residences in far flung parts to enjoy some degree of high speed Internet

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    What is Satellite Broadband?

    One of the top solutions for getting online if you’re living in a remote village or hillside property, out of range of mobile masts and with no affordable or realistic opportunity to upgrade your landline telephone links, satellite broadband offers a third way to enjoy high speed Internet.

    Employing a network of satellites that relays signals between end users and Earth-based high speed Internet hubs, the equipment can prove a costly initial outlay that eventually pays for itself.

    While there are various drawbacks, this method can be quite successful if used specifically for browsing, email and IM. Online gaming and intricate remote tasks such as surgery are unsuitable for engagement over a satellite broadband connection due to signal latency based on the distances involved. Similarly, various forms of air moisture can reduce the signal.

    Most of these problems are peculiar only to geostationary satellites in high orbit, however. Low Earth Orbit and Medium Earth Orbit satellites are positioned closer and don’t have these issues; however these units are unable to match broadband speeds.

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    Top Satellite Broadband Providers

    Eutelsat's range of geostationary satellites used by various satellite broadband providers Orbiting the Earth are a selection of satellites through which broadband Internet can be delivered to homes that otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive it.

    In the UK and Europe, Ethnet is the main satellite broadband provider, acting as ISP for anyone wishing to utilize the services of Eutelsat. Eutelsat makes use of 26 geostationary satellites and recently announced the introduction of 10Mbit/s broadband to the whole UK – a speed on par with the ADSL2+ that enables BT to offer broadband via its local exchanges (the same infrastructure that the majority of landline based ISPs use in the UK).

    The United States has two main suppliers of satellite broadband – Hughesnet and WildBlue. Hughesnet offers a range of speeds from 1Mbit/s to 5Mbit/s, and offers its services to residential, business, enterprise and government customers. While speeds are lower than in the UK and Europe, use of satellite broadband is currently more widespread in the USA, resulting in more bandwidth being used by the end user.

    WildBlue, meanwhile, offers up to 1.5Mbit/s download speeds, and is unavailable to residents in Alaska and Hawaii.