Satellite Internet: Ups and Downs

# Tips

You are probably familiar with “traditional” internet services. These include dial-up connection, Local Area Networks, broadband access, mobile Internet access and various wireless technologies. Nowadays, there is a newer possibility that allows you to have Internet access even in remote areas that lack proper infrastructure. We are talking, of course, about satellite internet access.

Many users all around the world choose this option to get connected to the Web. Numbers increase each year, and the technology and service quality also constantly improve, to keep up with this growing demand.

Satellite Internet
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Are you thinking of getting internet access via satellite? Then you certainly want to know what the pros and cons of this technology are.

Upsides

  • The main advantage of satellite Internet is that you need little infrastructure. Yes, you still need the classical satellite dish and a modem, but there is no need for wiring. This might not seem as a big advantage if you live in New York City, but things change when you live in a remote area. Satellite technology can bring the Internet even to isolated communities, in deserts, wetlands or mountainous areas around the Globe. This is why it is seen as a great solution to connect people in many developing countries which lack resources to develop “traditional” networking infrastructures.
  • Quality is comparable with that of broadband connections. This means that, as long as there are no obstructions, you can get high-speed data transfer and enjoy fast Web surfing. Most clients are satisfied with such services, and there are lots of positive reviews. It is no wonder that major satellite Internet providers are selling enormous amounts of these systems. And not only home users choose satellite Internet connectivity, but also many state institutions and big businesses all around the Globe.

Downsides

While the advantages of this technology are huge, there are also some drawbacks. There are two main issues that can affect users:

  • First of all, there is latency. Keep in mind that sending the information up in Earth’s orbit and then back to your antenna takes some time. The time depends on satellite altitude and specific atmospheric conditions, but there is no doubt that this type of transmission takes a bit more time than regular cable transmission. It may not be much, just a matter of seconds; however, for geostationary satellites, the delay might be up to 20 times longer than in terrestrial networks. As a result, such connections might not be suitable for applications like video conferences or online gaming, where all participants need to be as synchronized as possible. Playing a game against much faster opponents can be really bothering!
  • The second issue is that this technology is, obviously, sensitive to weather disturbances. High atmospheric moisture levels interfere with data transmission, causing a bad connection. Larger antennas can solve this issue, up to a point. In case of serious storms, the connection will become unstable, or even be entirely interrupted, no matter what kind of receiving device you own.

Is It Feasible?

Returning to the initial question, whether acquiring a satellite Internet connection system is a good option or not, the answer depends on local conditions. The technology still has some significant drawbacks. In a direct competition against cable networking, satellite clearly loses, in terms of information transfer latency and reliability.

However, satellite Internet becomes a feasible solution when there is no cable networking infrastructure, or when the costs of installing it are just too high.

The bottom line is that if you need Web access in an urban area, satellite technology is, probably, not the best option. On the other hand, if you needed to connect to the internet on a remote island or in the middle of the desert, it may be the only solution.

Juan is a Design & Tech Blogger with strong interest in digital art, human computer interaction, enterprise system and system automation.

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