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What is Satellite Broadband?

What is Satellite Broadband?

Latest news about Satellite BroadbandA single satellite can carry thousands of TV channels and cover a whole continent, so it makes sense to use them for two-way broadband as well, especially for people out of range of land-based cable or ADSL. 

The technology has moved on in leaps and bounds over recent years, and speeds now reach a reliable 18Mbps through a relatively small dish. 

You don’t even need a phone line, as the service is directed through hubs owned by the satellite operators, and you can use the same dish for Sky or Freesat – although it will need to be slightly larger. 

Astra broadband satellite

How does satellite broadband work? 

Your computer or network router connects to a satellite modem, which converts data into a format suitable for transmission via satellite. 

A specially-adapted satellite dish transmits your signals to the satellite in geostationary orbit, 33,600km above the Earth, which retransmits it down to a ground station where it is routed back to the internet backbone and continues its journey. Incoming data returns to you via the same route. 

Satellite dish and broadband modem (c SES Astra)Who provides satellite broadband in the UK? 

There are three choices of satellite broadband in the UK: SES Broadband (formerly Astra2Connect) from SES-Astra, Tooway by Eutelsat, and Avanti Broadband

Customers can buy satellite broadband through a variety of resellers. SES Broadband is distributed through BeyonDSL in the UK. Tooway resellers include Avonline, Tooway Direct, Bentley Walker, Broadband Wherever, an Onwave. Avanti doesn’t publish a list of resellers.

How much does satellite broadband cost?

All satellite broadband services use different satellite locations in Earth orbit, but very similar technology.

Prices start from £15/month for a 2Mbps downlink connection (256kbps uplink) with a 2GB monthly download cap on Astra Broadband, to £89/month for 18Mbps down (6Mbps up) with a 50GB cap on Tooway. SES Broadband also sells top-ups for more capacity and unlimited off-peak usage, while Avanti concentrates on business broadband.

Some resellers offer a free self-install kit with a dish and satellite modem – you’ll need your own router – but professional installs start at £100.

How does it compare to fixed-line broadband?

Satellite is an expensive way to get broadband that will only appeal to those who have exhausted all the other possibilities, although there are subsidies available in areas such as rural Wales and Scotland.

Usage caps are also strict compared to ADSL or cable, and the half-second or more of latency caused by a 140,000km round trip through space limits its usefulness for VOIP or gaming.

On the other hand, the same dish can be used to get Freesat or Sky, which will be convenient in many rural areas where Freeview coverage is also poor.

Latest news about for Satellite Broadband

Eutelsat confirms new 20Mbps Tooway packages

Up-to-20Mbps satellite broadband provider Tooway has introduced new packages from £30/month at entry-level to £75/month unlimited traffic.

The top-level Tooway Absolute service has no usage restrictions or traffic shaping, and provides up-to-20Mbps down with 6Mbps up – but there are installation and hardware costs.

At £30/month for the same speeds but 10GB/month usage, the entry-level Tooway M will be pricey unless the alternative is no internet or dial-up.

The two mid-level packages are Tooway L with 20GB for £40/month, and Tooway XL for 30GB at £50/month – but both allow unrestricted downloading from 11pm to 7am.

Ka-sat is beaming broadband across the continent

Jean-François Fenech, general manager of Eutelsat’s Broadband Business Unit, said: “These
new Tooway packages are another huge step forward in making universal high speed broadband an immediate reality for Europe.

“The fastest speeds and most generous data packages at the best competitive rates can be delivered in a matter of days, regardless of location. The outlook for consumers in Europe’s most digitally deprived areas just got much brighter.”

Tooway is delivered through Eutelsat’s new KA-SAT satellite using high-frequency Ka-band signals, to and from a 77cm dish for most of the UK, with a satellite broadband modem connected to a standard Ethernet router.

UK dealers for Tooway include Avonline Broadband (which announced its own pricing last week), Satellite Broadband UK, Satellite Solutions Worldwide, Bentley Walker, and Tooway Direct.

February 5, 2013

What is Satellite Broadband? Avonline launches 20Mbps speed boost and unlimited downloads

Avonline launches 20Mbps speed boost and unlimited downloads

Satellite broadband provider Avonline will start rolling out 20Mbps speed boosts to its packages from tomorrow, February 1.

As well as top download speeds accelerating to 20Mbps, upload speeds will be getting a leg up to – up to 6Mbps.

Though all satellite broadband providers using Tooway technology – that’s Bentley Walker, Tooway Direct and Broadband Wherever – will benefit from this 20Mbps speed boost, Avonline’s entry-level package is the cheapest ever and this marks the first time we’ve seen an unlimited package from the satellite ISP.

Mark Wynn, managing director of Avonline, said: “With real 20Mbps download speeds, unlimited data allowances and competitive pricing, our Next Generation satellite broadband services are now substantially better than the ADSL services available to millions of UK homes and businesses.”

Perhaps aiming at the wallets of those who are off of the fibre broadband radar for the foreseeable, Wynn added, “Why would you suffer the uncertainty of an indefinite wait for fibre or cable broadband? Most people suffering from poor broadband know that the reality is that such services will not reach them for years – if at all.”

Satellite broadband’s main strength is its ubiquity – it’s available virtually everywhere. Until now, the main weakness was monthly usage caps, often not as generous as what’s available from most fixed-line solutions. Now unlimited downloads are finally available in the UK via satellite, this could change things.

Avonline’s new 20Mbps broadband packages start from £24.95/month. Full price breakdown is as follows:

Package Top Download Speed Top Upload Speed Monthly Usage Overnight Usage Monthly Price Set Up Costs
Medium 20Mbps 6Mbps 10GB No £24.95 £149.90
Large 20Mbps 6Mbps 20GB Yes £34.95 £124.90
X-Large 20Mbps 6Mbps 30GB Yes £44.95 £49.95
Absolute 20Mbps 6Mbps Unlimited Yes  £64.95 Free

As well as this, there’s a ‘Small’ service which gives you 2Mbps down, 1Mbps up and a 2GB usage cap for £16.95/month. We’re waiting to hear back on how the set-up and account activation fees work out and will update accordingly.

Like Plusnet, some of Avonline’s packages come with ‘unlimited overnight usage.’ This means that between the hours of 11:00PM and 07:00AM, your downloads won’t count against your monthly cap. All Avonline packages are subject to a 24 month contract.

Note that aside from set-up and activation fees, there’s also a charge for installation. This can vary from £75, for a DIY self-install option to £125 for a professional visit. Alternatively, if you want to arrange for your own installer to set you up, you can do this too.

January 31, 2013

First 20Mbps Ka-band service goes live for SES’s Astra satellites

First 20Mbps Ka-band service goes live for SES's Astra satellitesEuropean satellite operator SES has switched on the high-speed Ka-band satellite broadband service on its latest Astra satellite.

Customers of NordNet in France can now get up to 20Mbps downloads and 2Mbps uploads from the Astra 2F satellite, which launched in September 2012.

Patrick Biewer, managing director of SES Broadband Services, said: “SES is again pioneering satellite broadband services in Europe, being the first operator to offer equal features to terrestrial services and at a highly competitive price.

“We are convinced that the new Ka-band offer presents a great solution for users in remote locations and will significantly drive product sales in France.”

Ka-band can target a region with small, high-frequency spot-beams, enabling a single satellite to reach more customers with higher data rates, at lower cost.

The new technology is expected to reach UK satellite broadband providers in 2013.

December 19, 2012

SES Astra 20Mbps speeds coming in November 

SES Astra will be launching faster satellite broadband download speeds in November. Top download and upload speeds will increase to 20Mbps and 2Mbps respectively.

Initially only satellite broadband customers in France will benefit from the speed boost. But SES Astra has plans for future launches of satellites which will extend coverage of these faster speeds across Europe.

Patrick Biewer, Managing Director of SES Broadband Services said: “With ASTRA 2F and the subsequent launches of ASTRA 2E, ASTRA 5B and ASTRA 2G in 2013 and 2014, we will be able to further expand our satellite broadband service in Europe with the additional Ka-band capacity on our fleet.”

The Ka-band is the same band which Tooway satellite broadband – used by Bentley Walker and Tooway Direct – works on. Earlier this year both Bentley Walker and Tooway Direct benefitted from a speed boost which saw top download speeds climb to 18Mbps.

September 6, 2012

Get up to £300 to fit satellite internet in Hampshire

Hampshire residents will be receiving up to £300 to install satellite broadband in an alternative broadband trial for rural areas.

Satellite broadband provider Bentley Walker will fit systems in 10-15 local homes and businesses which have  fixed-line speeds below 2Mbps, paid-for by Hampshire County Council.

The satellite connection will be able to achieve speeds of up to 18Mbps, and residents or businesses can apply to broadband@hants.gov.uk.

Neil Robinson, business development manager of Bentley Walker Ltd, said: “As councils and internet providers have pushed forward to build the UK’s superfast broadband network, it has become clear that fibre optic services are not financially or physically viable for some of the more rural areas.”

“We are honoured to be working alongside our local council to help find a solution suitable for everyone. We are lucky to have a forward-thinking council in Hampshire who have identified the realistic issues with fibre optic rollout and kept an open mind towards services like Tooway and satellite broadband.”

August 1, 2012

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