Satellite Access

What is it?

Satellite access has been around in various guises for a while now. There are two distinct types. One way access involves using a phone line to send information to the internet while the satellite system receives internet traffic. Two way access has the satellite system providing traffic paths in both directions.

Where is it available?

This is a big advantage of Satellite. It is available almost everywhere you can see the sky.

How does it work?

One way systems need to use a phone line to create an uplink path to the network and the internet, so a dialup connection must be used when online. The download path is via the satellite system so it is typically many times faster than dialup download speeds. Therefore it is suitable for internet browsing. There is also the extra cost of using the phone line. Two way systems use the satellite for both upload and download and don't tie up the phone line or incur phone charges. Both the upload and download speeds are typically many times faster than dialup also.

In both cases, a satellite dish is installed on the premises. This many cause problems with planning authorities and or a landlord if it is a rented or leased premises. A standard fee usually applies based on a straightforward installation. Unusually difficult installs may cost more.

There are a number of satellites in service over Europe. The providers buy service from these and resell it to customers. A digital wireless signal travels from a ground base station to the satellite and back down to a customer who is using it for internet access. As the distance the signal travels is significant, a delay in transmission is unavoidable. Typical minimum ping times to any internet address from a satellite customer are in the order of 600ms, or 6/10ths of a second. In networking terms this is an eternity. It makes using real time applications like online gaming practically impossible. It also rules out applications like internet phone and video calls.

As the amount of bandwidth available is limited, satellite providers usually have 'fair use' policies, where heavy users are 'throttled back' to a lower access bandwidth after a certain download threshold is reached.

What does it cost?

One time costs:

There is a signup fee which includes installation of the equipment on the premises. The install fee is typically higher than most other access methods. There may be an option to pay a higher install fee and lower monthly rental.

Ongoing costs:

Satellite costs tend to be somewhat higher than other access methods for similar services.

Advantages and Disadvantages:


  • 1. It doesn't depend on monopoly controlled copper infrastructure.
  • 2. It is relatively fast.
  • 3. It is available almost everywhere.
  • 4. There are typically a broad range of services available and upgrading is easy.


  • 1. Communication delays are significant. This makes it unsuitable for voice and video communications and gaming.
  • 2. Installation can be disruptive and problematic, depending on the premises.
  • 3. Quoted installation includes for a maximum amount of time and materials. If the premises or situation deviates from this, a higher cost may be incurred.
  • 4. In rented or leased premises, permission needs to be sought to allow the equipment to be installed.


Useful Links

Description: A Valuable Satellite Directory and Information Resource.

Main Dial-Up Fixed Wireless Hotspots Satellite xDSL
Community Networks What is Broadband? Future Site Enhancements
Why Broadband What can I do? Pricing and Information Acronyms Hotspot Locator Contact

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