Satellite Internet access is a service that uses a satellite dish to provide dedicated high-speed, always-on Internet connection. It's receiving interest from businesses and people that can't subscribe to traditional high-speed Internet access methods such as DSL. This is basically the case for most areas outside of large cities.
If you can get a clear view of the southern sky, you can use a satellite Internet service to access the Web, download files, get streaming media, send and receive email. While it's not as cheap or simple to install as cable modems or DSL, in areas not served by them, it's the best (and only) choice.
Until recently, satellite Internet connection was one-way (the dish only received data) and required a dial-up modem and telephone line for sending requests and uploading files, which limited performance. But now the technology allows two-way access (the dish both sends and receives data), eliminating the need for an additional dial-up modem. The startup prices have fallen considerably, making the service affordable to most homes and businesses.
How fast is satellite Internet connection?
Most users can expect download speeds of up to 500Kbps (usually 200Kbps - 400Kbps) and upload speeds around 50Kbps. While this is slower than many cable and DSL connections, it's about 10 times faster than standard dial-up connection.
Satellite Internet access has noticeable latency. This is the time it takes data to travel from your computer to the Internet and back through the satellite. Latency for satellite Internet connection is typically 500-600ms, compared to 50-150ms for DSL and cable modem access. This delay isn't important for Web surfing, downloading files, streaming audio or video, but can cause problems for latency sensitive applications such as VoIP (Voice over IP) and online games.
The satellite Internet is available everywhere in the continental United States with a clear view of the southern sky. The system uses a two by three foot dish and a satellite modem which allow you to send and receive information.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that licensed professionals install any two-way satellite Internet access system. The installation technician arrives at your location, completes the installation and turns up the service.
All you have to do is connect your computer by using the provided Ethernet cable. The system is compatible with PCs and Macs (any device using TCP/IP protocols) and requires no software to install. You need either a 10/100 Ethernet Network Interface Card or PCMCIA adapter with an Ethernet connector. Alternatively, you can use a wireless router and any wireless networking devices.
You can easily connect multiple home computers and laptops to a single satellite Internet connection at no additional cost. Keep in mind though, that all computers on this network will be sharing a single connection. Simultaneous use of high bandwidth applications by multiple users may result in degradation of download and surfing speeds.
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