If you live in the country then you are unlikely to have cable and even DSL is not available more than a few miles from the local exchange. Satellite broadband is then your only realistic broadband option.
Rural dwellers are the last people to be connected to anything. I count myself lucky that I have electricity and a land-line. Even mains water and sewers don’t stretch to my house, so cable is never going to get here.
Satellite Broadband FAQs
Qu. Can you get satellite broadband anywhere?
Ans. Yes, anywhere you have access to a satellite dish that has a direct line of sight connection to the requisite satellite.
Qu. Can you use your Sky dish?
Ans. No, because the Sky dish only allows downloads. You need a special dish that allows you to upload as well, this is a bit larger than a Sky dish.
Qu. Do you get proper broadband?
Ans. Yes, I live in Cork and pay €60 a month for an 8Mb package.
Qu. Can you watch videos on satellite broadband?
Ans. No. It is a limited bandwidth package and watching an hour of video will use your entire bandwidth for the month.
Qu. Is it affected by the weather?
Ans. Yes. Heavy rain or snow will break the connection to the satellite
Qu. Is it reliable?
Ans. No. It goes down for no apparent reason for hours at a time.
Qu. Is it expensive?
Ans. Yes. You pay about twice as much as someone on a cable connection would for a very limited amount of bandwidth.
Qu. Is it better than 3G broadband?
Ans. Yes. I tried that, before the satellite. 3G networks prioritise voice calls. I could get a 3G internet connection from 5am to 8am. At 8 o’ clock business phone use starts cutting in and your data connection slows to 2 bits, not 2 MB, 2 bits per second.
Who is Satellite Broadband For?
Satellite broadband is infinitely better than a dial-up connection. (I tried that, too). If you have no other way except 3G of getting online then it is for you. This normally means people living in the country more than a few miles from a modern telephone exchange.
Businesses may find a satellite connection faster than a high contention ratio DSL connection, but the limited bandwidth is a major problem. DSL and cable Internet providers use a contention ratio of around 50:1, where fifty homes share one set of resources. Satellite systems do have a 1:1 contention ratio, so there is no additional slowing down when your neighbours’ kids start playing YouTube videos after school.
All you need to get this service is a wall or chimney where the installers can mount a south-east facing satellite dish.
Will it Work for Families?
If satellite broadband is your only option then it has to work. Family members just have to curb their expectations and avoid music/video/gaming sites. Even with a £50/€60 a month package it is only enough for 16 hours a day general Internet browsing.
James Stacey uses satellite broadband himself and knows all its limitations. He works from home and without a satellite connection he would be out of a job.