Most US citizens enjoy broadband connections, with download speeds of 50 to 100 Mbps. However, some 119 million of them are completely lacking broadband connection (according to FCC reports), while 19 million are living in areas where you can’t subscribe to a wired broadband connection. But that’s going to change…
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), hosted by America’s city of lights – Las Vegas – just yesterday, revealed that satellite internet providers are already capable of offering significantly better services where broadband connection is unavailable.
This major event was a great opportunity for companies like HughesNet and ViaSat to explain the insights of their latest-generation satellites. Representatives of the companies claimed that their connections are powerful enough to give anyone download speeds of 10 to 15Mbps and upload speeds of 1 to 3 Mbps.
“Satellite now is a viable option for millions and millions of consumers, with speeds of 10 to 15 Mbps,” said Allen McCabe, director of sales at HughesNet.
“We’re a real player.”
However, there are still some problems to be fixed, as Dan Turak, VP of sales and distribution for ViaSat Communications, rightfully pointed out:
“We can’t get around physics and the speed of light.”
“We have about a half-second latency. The only time latency becomes an issue is for a gamer. We’re very clear to that customer that you’ll probably lose if you’re playing against someone without satellite broadband. That latency is just enough to cause delay.”
Leaving that aside, if you’re just looking to use the web for video streaming, and basically any type of internet browsing, these services are more than ok, the representatives said.
“Even though we have a national footprint our market area isn’t really downtown Chicago,” Turak said.
“Those people are served. They have Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, or AT&T. Satellite providers are trying to sign up the people who have no Internet. They have dial-up. Or they have poor Internet. And that’s our market area.”
As for price, ViaSat’s Exede – a service which was launched in 2012 and constituted a major improvement for both downloading and uploading speeds – offers a maximum speed of 12 Mpbs as you download and 3 Mbps if you upload. These figures are available for any package you may choose, but the price difference is set by data usage as such: from between midnight to 5am data usage is unlimited; for $50 per month you get 10GB of data, for $80 you have 15GB, and finally for $130 ViaSat offers 25GB.
Hughes’ charges pretty much the same, with subscriptions that can range between $40 a month and $100 a month. HughesNet offers download speeds of 10 to 15 Mpbs and data usage limits of 20 to 40 GB a month.
What sets Hughes and ViaSat apart from other companies alike is that their home systems receive and transmit. The process is explained by Hughes’ director of sales as such:
“The request for a website goes out from the computer to the modem, out to the dish and transmits to the satellite. It bounces back down to the ViaSat and Hughes ground-based stations, which we call gateways. Those gateways have large antennas that pick up the signal from the consumer’s home, what website they want to go to, and using the terrestrial system connect with the Internet, grab the data, take it back to the gateway, shoot it back up to the sky and back down to the consumer’s home.”
“It sounds like an enormous process. It takes less than a second,” he said.
“The signals travels almost 90,000 miles, up and down, up and down again into the Internet and back.”
On that same page, both services are capable of covering the continental US, Hawaii, and a big chunk of Alaska.
“We use spot beam technology,” Turak explained.
“We have beams across the country. Our subscribers are provisioned under very specific beams. … We have a beam over a part of Alaska where most of the population is. It’s a huge state.”
There’s a slight problem, however, for satellite internet providers – Uncle Sam’s money is put into the developing of broadband technology. In that sense, Joseph Widoff, executive director of the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association said:
“There’s a lot of places [cable and FiOS buildouts] are never going to go, and from my perspective it seems like there’s not a lot of talk about the fact that they could be covered tomorrow.”
“If the government wants to throw money around, subsidize satellite broadband and it will happen literally overnight, or as long as it takes to ship the product out.”
But for Hughes’ director of sales, this is not necessarily an issue.
“Most of the business is built on the enterprise system and not with government handouts,” he said.
“I certainly won’t sit here and say we wouldn’t enjoy seeing some more [government] support for our technology. If they’re going to support broadband in general they should support satellite because it’s a really viable product in this market.”
source: Ars Technica