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If you're living in a big city, you probably don't even know that
there is a possibility to connect to the internet through a
satellite connection. But if you live in a rural, isolated area,
internet via satellite may be your only access option. It's not
a bad option - you can still enjoy broadband internet, only
that there are several limitation you should be aware of.

Internet access via satellite is one of the most expensive
methods for high speed Internet access. It 'suffers' from
inherent high latency issues, and it involves equipment that
consumers cannot setup on their own. With around 70% of
U.S. residences being covered by either DSL or Cable, internet
access via satellite is generally only used if you don't have a
dsl or cable alternative.

The main appeal of the Internet via satellite services is that it
gives consumers living outside the range of DSL and cable
providers at least some form of high speed Internet access
where normally none would exist. Satellite Internet service is
available in virtually every location across the contiguous 48
United States. As long as your residence has a clear view of
the southern sky, you can probably get satellite Internet
access. Unfortunately, Alaska and Hawaii are not covered by
the satellite systems, or just not covered very well, so
signing up for high speed satellite in those areas is not

Satellite Internet service is also referred to as IoS, or Internet
over Satellite. This technology allows customers to access the
Internet using a satellite in orbit around the Earth. The
satellites are in a geosynchronous orbit, meaning that their
relative position to the Earth never changes. This static
position allows satellites to maintain connections to
transmitters on Earth that use large centralized antennas
to send their signals.

The enormous distances the signals must travel back and forth
from a low orbit adversely affect the speed of the connection.
Remember every time you click on a web page you must send
a signal from your computer, to your ISPs hub, then into orbital
space and back. This can take a little time, and typical
connection speeds average from 492 up to 512 Kbps. While
this is a great deal better than dial up, it's not much
competition for cable or DSL.

Satellite Internet suffers some the same shortcomings that its
TV counterpart does, while being much less affordable.
Satellite TV can cost around $40.00 per month, while satellite
internet service runs from around $70.00 per month and up.
With this higher cost comes no additional reliability, and you
can expect intermittent service during any type of bad
weather. While these interruptions are generally very brief,
they can be frustrating.

A quick glance at satellite pricing is enough to turn most
consumers away from this type of service. It is rare to find a
satellite ISP that costs under $300 just for the initial
equipment and installation. More often than not, these items
will cost $500 to $600 or more. Add to that the fact that
satellite Internet is only about as fast as a standard DSL
connection and it should become obvious that this type of
service is usually only picked out of necessity.

With dial-up Internet service, basically all that is needed to
connect is an active phone line, a computer with modem, and
an account with a dial-up ISP. Customers install the software
themselves, pay month-to-month, and away they go. It's a
simple service, but quite slow. When you sign up for satellite
Internet access, the experience will be very different:
Faster Speeds - Download speeds will typically range from 512
Kbps to 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds from 128 Kbps to 256
Kbps, which is much faster than 56 Kbps dial up.
Constant Connection - Satellite Internet is a service that is
"always on", just like cable or DSL. No phone line, software, or
logging on and off is required.
Email & Webspace - Like any other type of ISP, satellite
Internet services will provide you with multiple email accounts
and space for a personal website.
Long-Term Contracts - Customers will usually be required to
sign a long-term service contract of 12 to 15 months or more,
with termination fees if you cancel early.
Equipment Fees - You will have to buy or lease special
equipment, typically a small dish that will need to be mounted
on a roof, wall or via pole mount in the ground, plus a low-
cost, small satellite modem that connects directly to your PC.
Installation Fees - Professional installation for satellite
Internet service is actually an FCC requirement, but the
installation fees might be waived by some providers. Satellite
providers will vary in the exact features of their service
offerings, but in general, you can expect everything listed
above when you sign up with a satellite ISP.

Although satellite might seem to be a poor choice for high
speed Internet, the fact is that it is as good of a service as DSL
or cable for basic Internet needs, such as accessing email,
browsing the web, and downloading files. And just like DSL,
cable, and dial up, the service you get is only as good as the
provider you choose. For Americans that live in a rural part of
the country and have a serious need for a faster Internet
connection, satellite is a good broadband service to have,
if you can afford it.

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