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Ask Slashdot: Good Satellite Internet For Remote Locations?

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the best-of-the-best dept.

The Internet 175

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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I use Verizon FIOS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45329999)

Pretty solid. Something like 45 down, 25 up. $40/month.

Re:I use Verizon FIOS (5, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about 9 months ago | (#45330069)

That sure will work in the middle of the wilderness. Just cary a giant spool of fiberoptic cable wherever you go, and unwind. It has the benefit on top of satellite internet that you will never get lost. Just retrace the internet back to Verizon's office.

Come on, did you even pretend to read the title?

Re:I use Verizon FIOS (4, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 9 months ago | (#45330163)

AC will be the next /. editor.

Re:I use Verizon FIOS (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about 9 months ago | (#45330713)

It would be more efficient to set up a tin can network with many relays:

Tin can telecom: []

There are none (5, Informative)

Lord Apathy (584315) | about 9 months ago | (#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 (5, Informative)

mache (210555) | about 9 months ago | (#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

no matter where you are, it's gonna be laggy (2)

themushroom (197365) | about 9 months ago | (#45330217)

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 the OP was seeking -- basic communication from BFE and not Skyping or Warcraft.

Re:no matter where you are, it's gonna be laggy (3, Insightful)

schnell (163007) | about 9 months ago | (#45330329)

"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.

Re:no matter where you are, it's gonna be laggy (1)

LandGator (625199) | about 9 months ago | (#45330461)

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.

Re:no matter where you are, it's gonna be laggy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45331203)

But, he's not equatorial, neither in Sud America nor Alaska

Last time I checked South America was equatorial.

Re:no matter where you are, it's gonna be laggy (1)

LandGator (625199) | about 9 months ago | (#45331265)

The Guyanas, Suriname, Venezuela, Columbia, sure. República de Chile, República Oriental del Uruguay, República Argentina? Not so much

Re:no matter where you are, it's gonna be laggy (2)

GumphMaster (772693) | about 9 months ago | (#45331405)

No, geostationary orbits are ~42160 kilometres (~26200 mi) from the centre of the Earth, i.e. at a distance of ~35,790 kilometres (~22,240 mi) above equatorial sea level.

Re:no matter where you are, it's gonna be laggy (4, Informative)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:no matter where you are, it's gonna be laggy (1)

cusco (717999) | about 9 months ago | (#45331193)

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).

Re:no matter where you are, it's gonna be laggy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45331055)

I've used a Hughesnet two way satellite internet connection before, at no point was the access time anywhere near 10 seconds. Latency is nowhere near a hard connection to be sure, but during standard surfing (news, mail, social media) you're not going to notice any real difference from a budget US internet connection. I'm sure it was pretty pricy but it was also a massive step up from a sprint wireless card which barely functioned at this location.

Re:There are none (2)

skelly33 (891182) | about 9 months ago | (#45330243)

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?

Re:There are none (1)

Spazmania (174582) | about 9 months ago | (#45330455)

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.

Re:There are none (4, Funny)

TheCarp (96830) | about 9 months ago | (#45330323)

> 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!

Congress would never understand... (0)

Grog6 (85859) | about 9 months ago | (#45330789)

Why we all laughed so hard we peed ourselves, for Congress soapboxing the idea on Fox; no one there would get it either. rofl.

I hear "Dead-Eye Cruz" won't be doing anything next election; someone should pitch it to him. :)

I for one could use some Comedy out of Washington, instead of more Drama.

This current group has more Drama than a pack of teenage cutters.

Re:There are none (1)

jIyajbe (662197) | about 9 months ago | (#45330865)

Dear Slashdot,

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

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

Well, actually.... (1)

LandGator (625199) | about 9 months ago | (#45330949)

Congress _could_ help by throwing $$,$$$,$$$ at [] - no reason why servers have to be ground bound.

Re:There are none (3, Funny)

uncqual (836337) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:There are none (1)

yayoubetcha (893774) | about 9 months ago | (#45331129)

186,282 mps isn't just a good idea. It's the law.

Re:There are none (1)

t4ng* (1092951) | about 9 months ago | (#45331391)

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 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.

Iridium is also LEO, but has more complex satellites that route calls from satellite to satellite until it is over a ground station in the US, then routes the call to the ground. Last I heard it had been appropriated by the US military (they liked that all calls went through the US instead of ground stations in other countries). I don't know whether civil service is available any more. But it would probably also be a pretty slow link since it was originally designed for phone calls.

Re:There are none (3, Informative)

sabri (584428) | about 9 months ago | (#45330125)

Simple answer is you won't.

Ever heard of Exede [] ? Viasat [] has its own satellite [] 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 (3, Insightful)

Omega Hacker (6676) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:There are none (1)

Lord Apathy (584315) | about 9 months ago | (#45330245)

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."

Re:There are none (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 9 months ago | (#45330693)

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.

Re:There are none (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 9 months ago | (#45330705)

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.

Re:There are none (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 9 months ago | (#45330275)

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 (3, Informative)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about 9 months ago | (#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

Re:There are none (5, Informative)

schnell (163007) | about 9 months ago | (#45330273)

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 (4, Interesting)

neorush (1103917) | about 9 months ago | (#45330927)

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 [] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from bytes=32 time=775ms TTL=54
Reply from bytes=32 time=1013ms TTL=54
Reply from bytes=32 time=1108ms TTL=54
Reply from bytes=32 time=1098ms TTL=54
Ping statistics for 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.

Re:There are none (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 9 months ago | (#45331409)

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 access. Just make sure the signal booster you buy is specifically designed for 4G/LTE frequencies of whatever carrier as well...

Have to disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330959)

I have good satellite internet.
Now, the lag is at least 700 mS - so no online realtime games. But for all else, I have 5-10 mb/sec down / 1 mb/sec up.
Browsing is good. Downloads are good. Updates to my remote websites are good.
I use Hughes.

Re:Have to disagree (1)

Lord Apathy (584315) | about 9 months ago | (#45331073)

I have good satellite internet. Now, the lag is at least 700 mS - so no online realtime games. But for all else, I have 5-10 mb/sec down / 1 mb/sec up. Browsing is good. Downloads are good. Updates to my remote websites are good. I use Hughes.

No, you only think you have good satellite internet. I thought that too while languishing in the same Hughes net hell you currently find yourself. I was there for 10 years. I did finally get good internet thought, actually excellent internet. I moved.

Any kind of internet with a built in 700ms lag time is horrible. So I think my declaring any kind of satellite internet "adequate" still stands. It is adequate for what you need it to do, but not by any means good for really anything.

Re:There are none (2)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | about 9 months ago | (#45331221)

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 ground stations buffer like crazy to maximize bandwidth usage.

3. The ONLY time I have problems is when snow piles up on the dish. Gusts of 60 mph (100 kph) or so have never bothered it, but it's on a good solid tower. Snowstorms themselves are no problem, not the heaviest (4 feet in a day several times). There's an electrical heater on the back side of the dish made up of that tape you wrap around pipes; when power goes out and it's running without that, I have to brush the snow off every few hours, but that is the ONLY time I have had problems. They are rock solid otherwise.

4. Power outage is a nuisance. I have a standby generator but it takes 30 seconds to kick in, and I ought to have the modem and dish on a UPS, but I don't so sometimes I have to manually kick power to get reconnected.

5. Speed is 512Kbps up, 3Mbps down. Bandwidth isn't the killer, it's the latency. Ask the com root server who is. Ask who is. Ask for index.html. Find the css, ask who 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.

I wish it were cheaper ($80 / month), but it's that or unreliable AT&T dialup.

Get it cheap (0)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#45330031)

Just rename yourself Abdul Achmed Al Siri, and the NSA will provide you with free fiber.

Re:Get it cheap (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 9 months ago | (#45330393)

That should keep your bandwidth nice and regular.

Re:Get it cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330943)

I can't tell if you're talking about Internet or bowel movements.

Re:Get it cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45331003)

Why be exclusive when it comes to fiber?

Iridium + Something Else (4, Informative)

rwa2 (4391) | about 9 months ago | (#45330051)

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. []

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: :/

Re:Iridium + Something Else (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330209)

Telecom New Zealand maintain a constant geosynchronous link to the Scott Base in Antarctica. I believe the antenna points *down*.

Re:Iridium + Something Else (4, Informative)

rwa2 (4391) | about 9 months ago | (#45330413)

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. []

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...

Re:Iridium + Something Else (3, Informative)

Spazmania (174582) | about 9 months ago | (#45330563)

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.

Drug Kingpin much? (4, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 9 months ago | (#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?"

Re:Drug Kingpin much? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330165)


I read it as - "Dear Slashdot, I want porn in the deepest parts of the Amazon."

Kidnap/porn - tomato/tomatto - whatever ...

Re:Drug Kingpin much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330767)

less bleedy

LOL. That's almost as good as "windows 8.1 app store moneytrain edition for workgroups" from the fuel cell story.

I would have had a fstory but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330071)

My latency was being affected by teh satelights.

As for Alaska (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330091)

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

Re:As for Alaska (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330699)

I am in rural Texas on the Rio Grande and am using a microwave system installed along the border, I think probably the real reason it is here is to provide USA connections to people (who can afford it) living in Mexico along the border. Works quite well all things considered. Only real problems are with thunderstorms directly overhead.

Good Satellite Internet, pick two (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330129)

Good Satellite Internet, pick two

HughesNet (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 9 months ago | (#45330169)

I know someone in the US who uses HughesNet and she likes it. It looks like their service is available [] 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

Re:HughesNet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330311)

I'd change the name of the plan to "FAP mosdefinetelynot Free"

Re:HughesNet (1)

Pope (17780) | about 9 months ago | (#45330497)

FAP free? no pr0n, then

Re:HughesNet (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 9 months ago | (#45330597)

You can just can't fap while you look.

Good satellite Internet? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330199)

I'm sure you can find it right next to the unicorns and the fairy dust somewhere in a mystical, far off land.
But only as long as you have enough rupees.

SSI Micro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330215)

I recently interviewed (unsuccessfully!) with SSI Micro in Ottawa. They provide satellite internet throughout the Canadian arctic, as well as other locations around the world. Might be good to contact them.

Whats your budget? (5, Informative)

Fredde87 (946371) | about 9 months ago | (#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...

Re:Whats your budget? (4, Informative)

Fredde87 (946371) | about 9 months ago | (#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 (5, Informative)

Bluefirebird (649667) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:More details please (1)

Arker (91948) | about 9 months ago | (#45330523)

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.

Re:More details please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330605)

Most C-band dishes are also effective Ka and Ku band dishes as well. You'll need a Ku-band feedhorn, LNB, etc.. but there's no reason why an old C-band dish can't be used.

(disclaimer: I use an old C-band dish for Ku-band FTA reception)

Re:More details please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330665)

Check that you can't fit a pencil through the mesh. If you can, the mesh is not dense enough and Ku signals will pass right through.

You'll get great reception for Ku in ridiculous weather with a 10 foot dish. In fact, you'll probably find the dish flying away in pieces by the time reception starts to get bad, since it will take a hurricane to make it stop working.

Just for fun, the larger the dish, the more accurate you have to be when pointing it, since it sees a smaller window of the sky.

Re:More details please (1)

tygt (792974) | about 9 months ago | (#45330637)

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, 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

People still use Forth? ;)
If you'll consult a map of South America, you'll find that it is entirely above the Antarctic Circle - it doesn't even touch 60S. Still, depending on your location, even 50S could cause issues if you've got a hill to your north.

Re:More details please (1)

cusco (717999) | about 9 months ago | (#45331325)

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?

Re:More details please (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 9 months ago | (#45330703)

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?

Re:More details please (1)

Fredde87 (946371) | about 9 months ago | (#45330929)

Line of sight is lost at around 80 degrees. But your signal will suffer between 70-80 (however not impossible to use).

Re:More details please (1)

hibachi (162898) | about 9 months ago | (#45331163)

If you have a large enough dish and transmitter, on C-Band, and you have a satellite with the right coverage footprint, it's really no problem at all going beyond 70 degrees. The company I work for provides high speed Internet service into Grise Fiord, Nunavut at 76.4N on Anik F2. There is a limit of course, but 70 degrees is not it. It's really a question of throwing adequate resources at the problem (dish size, and power). It's also possible to get fairly respectable bandwidth out of C-Band if you are able to use higher MODCODs (as a result of having adequate dish size and transmitter power). You can get >90Mbps on a full transponder of C-Band with 16APSK 8/9.

Happy Monday to h4rr4r! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330283)

Happy Monday! []

IsoTropic Networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330297)

You should check out IsoTropic networks:

I use them in a remote area in Central America and it is consistent. The service is just part of the equation though, having solid equipment also helps "improve" the experience.

I upgraded my BUC to 4 Watts and notice an improvement for oncoming rain storms than the 3Watt.

Good luck.

John Mcafee? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330319)

Is that you?

inmarsat still around? (0)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#45330337)

in the 90's when i was in the army we used their phones with special modems to send data from europe to africa and back the other way

you cant (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about 9 months ago | (#45330415)

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.

Re:you cant (1)

Fredde87 (946371) | about 9 months ago | (#45330977)

Physical obstructions will obviously always affect any satellite connection. But I strongly disagree that all connections are affected by weather. There are lot of government services and lower frequencies services like Inmarsat which can operate through any weather conditions.

Loral (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330467)

There used to be these guys back in the day - Loral Orion Cyberstar as the satellite carrier back in 2001/2002, or whatever is their name now.
We had a 2 Mbps symmetric at Sofia, Bulgaria (too lazy to look up coordinates right now), fed by UUnet MAE EAST as far as the internet goes. Loral/Orion had a very few issues and support was extremely knowledgeable when it came to it. We were one of the few 'importing' internet into the country those days, but it really made a difference during the Mediterranean earthquake when fiber got torn.

I don't know what they are doing these day, but they were perfect back then.

Enterprise Grade Service - Tachyon Networks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330479)

Tachyon's footprint covers most of South America, I would be happy to discuss your requirements off line to see if there is a fit. To read more about Tachyon please visit:
I look forward to hearing from you.

Hughes Net (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330499)

Hughes net is popular in rural Alaska. I think Hughes net offers the speeds you are looking for with their commercial packages. People ditch satellite internet as soon as a terrestrial connection is available. Satellite is better than nothing but far from ideal.

Anonymous Coward..........

BGAN from Inmarsat? (1)

LandGator (625199) | about 9 months ago | (#45330541) [] 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 times be able to send data at 8kbit/s.

Background: A best effort style of service, billed by volume. Each spot beam provides a certain amount of usable bandwidth. The bandwidth which is not in use by Streaming contexts is used for Background contexts. This means that the actual amount of bandwidth you receive with a background context will vary over time. The theoretical maximum bandwidth available is ~400kbit/s.

In Central America Using Isotropic Networks (1)

forgotpw_again (3420301) | about 9 months ago | (#45330567)

I live off the grid in central america and have been using satellite internet for the last year or so. For about $2500 you can get a used system consisting of an antennae (2M) LNB, and 4Watt BUC and used VSAT modem Isotropic Networks provides the service. They have a variety of options for speeds and parity. ( Having a big dish and buc makes things like rain less of an issue. Clouds do not effect the signal much (if anything they amplify - according to vsat techs). Based on your location, you will need to determine which is the best satellite to connect to.

High latency is unavoidable; my experience (1)

tygt (792974) | about 9 months ago | (#45330603)

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:
  - your station to the satellite (23k mi)
  - satellite to network link (my guess is that's in North America, probably a minimum of 32 north; this is definitely over 23k mi)
  - network link to ultimate destination ( - call this 10ms, though it'll be noise in the end
  - google back to net link - 10ms
  - net link to satellite (23k+ mi)
  - satellite to your station (23k+ mi)

So what's that? 20ms + a minimum of 92k mi at 186k mi/sec... this will give you a minimum of 520msec ping round trips.

I used to have satellite up/down in Northern California - about 39N120W (2002-2006) via StarBand (don't know if they're around or not and too lazy to check)... I don't think I ever saw a ping rtt below 650ms anywhere in the net.

My experience with it at the time was that it was fine for casual use... click a link, a second later you had the page. It streamed fine at its given capacity (768k at the time). Interactive use was horrible, I had to replicate part of a testing lab at my location to be able to do development because typing remotely to a console was an exercise in predictive error correction. Upload was horrible at the time, I think it was 64kbps. That's plenty for web surfing, but sending binaries of any sort is prohibitive.

The high latency of course makes something like interactive gaming very challenging. Of course, I've seeing people playing WoW from OZ or South Pacific islands at 1500ms ping, so it's possible, but you do need to realize what you're getting into.

I assume that data rates have improved; of course, data files have increased as well.

Don't forget also that there are some serious data caps. StarBand at the time used a leakybucket approach; if you empty your bucket, you're not shut off, but if you keep pulling data non-stop, at some point you'll be limited to the resupply rate (which was 64kbps at the time....).

Given that you're going to be completely remote and far from any other possible internet connection, the caveats probably don't affect you - you don't have a choice. Satellite *will* work, but understand what you get.

Harris Caprock (1)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | about 9 months ago | (#45330609)

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 []

Not going to happen. This is the ~best you'll get (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | about 9 months ago | (#45330635)

Last I looked I think it was Globalstar who will be offering always on internet soon for portable phones, different from the dialup per minute. That might make basic mobile email a bit more usable. This isn't what you're looking for but I think that's the most use you're realistically going to get without a more exact location to research.

Even though internet is probably very poor and slow where you're going it's likely to be better than satellite.

Here's another option. Look into prepay and/or contract mobile phone data. In most countries in SA it's more expensive but still going to be better than satelite. If you want bandwidth you can chain them together - can someone explain how to do that on linux? I remember hearing about a kickstarter project that does it on Windows in a blackbox kind of way...

Also look into striking up deals with any place that has a decent connection and then using a VPN.

There is no good satellite Internet, until ... (1)

Stumbles (602007) | about 9 months ago | (#45330677)

someone figures out how to circumvent several laws of physics. When that happens I will be the first to sign up.

c band/ku band (1)

ouachiski (835136) | about 9 months ago | (#45330719)

being in north Alaska you will be probably limited to C band. Your best bet is to probably find service on AMC11 and Galaxy 12. With those your elevation is only ablut 8.5 degrees so if you have any terrain to the south you will probably be out of luck. Any commercial C band provider will be open about there contention ratio. If you really want to shell out the money they will also be able to provide a dedicated link called SCPC(single carrier per channel). Any decent commercial can set you up with a quote.

GlobecommSystems (1)

Aurien (1357861) | about 9 months ago | (#45330737)

This is the company I work for and we provide global satellite access. Honestly you'd have to talk to our sales department for prices, but we do have coverage in South America and Alaska. We're a NASDAQ traded company that's been in the satellite business for a while. [] []

In Summary (4, Interesting)

EndlessNameless (673105) | about 9 months ago | (#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.)

Google balloons... (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 9 months ago | (#45330881)

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 be done but there is a chicken and
egg marketing issue. However with the advent of $50 boards
like the BBB and Pandaboard the exploration of this is
at hand.

Microwave (1)

mirix (1649853) | about 9 months ago | (#45330921)

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.

not available yet.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45330989)

But have a look at O3B (, which covers between 45N and 45S so covers most of South America apart from the southern tip of Chile and Argentina. Or COMMStellation ( which will be at 1000km LEO and have global coverage by 2018. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45331031)

Ka Band VSAT mobile antenna. At the price of cable, some antenna/modems are as little as $5K.

Fast and cheap are mutually exclusive (3, Informative)

Strider- (39683) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Niasat for Alaska (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45331059)

Niasat for your Alaska location might be worth it

contention service? (1)

k31bang (672440) | about 9 months ago | (#45331091)

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

Linkscape (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45331117)

These guys specialize in maritime systems, but are known to have access to a ton of global capacity.

GCI for Alaska (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45331177)

I used to work for GCI in Anchorage. They handle the satellite service for all of the rural schools including those north of the arctic circle. I would call them first to see if they can handle commercial work as well.

exede (1)

luther349 (645380) | about 9 months ago | (#45331301)

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 gaming in fps games isn't gonna happen.

Satellite sucks (3, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:Satellite sucks (1)

luther349 (645380) | about 9 months ago | (#45331441)

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.

Once you do get it going... (1)

rgbe (310525) | about 9 months ago | (#45331337)

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: [] or Opera browser, etc. I think even Chrome has it available.

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