What Are The Limitations Of Satellite Internet Technology?

Satellite Broadband

Satellite Internet is becoming a major competitor to cable providers. The main point for employing such systems is getting high-speed data traffic in areas that do not have access to cable, broadband or DSL connection. The technology is definitely a major breakthrough, allowing remote communities to get connected to the Web.

However, this does not mean that there is not still much work to do to improve the system. While, sometimes, it is the only possible solution to get Internet access, it is also true that it can also have bothering limitations. Here are the main issues users found in this technology.

Rush Hours

While, generally, satellite Internet speed is quite constant, many people using it pointed to sluggish speeds during peak hours. As in any kind of network, when many users access the Net at the same time, it all gets really slow. Theoretically, the maximum allowance for satellite networking is higher than in cable-based one, but when it gets crowded, speed drop is major.

Fair Access Policy (FAP)

The Fair Use Policy, as it is also known, regulates the bandwidth that every user gets. In order to allow multiple users to stay connected, each provider will limit the individual bandwidth allowance. Now, you can get more of it, if you want, but, you obviously need to pay more. So, as a general advice, always check out what the available packages and their prices are. A small bandwidth just means less Internet access for you.

Latency

Latency is one of the major drawbacks of this technology. It is due to the simple fact that data signals need to travel on a long distance, through the atmosphere. So, there is a sometimes bothering delay.

While this does not affect regular surfing or e-mail communication, it is rather disturbing when you use applications that need some degree of synchronizing. For instance watching online movies, using voice over IP, teleconferencing or gaming.

Imagine having a videoconference with several seconds of lagging between the participants! Or taking part in a multiplayer online game where you would get a big disadvantage if you are a satellite Internet user.

Interference

In cable-based Internet connection, there is no significant problem in accessing the Web, as long as the cable is not damaged. With satellite Internet, the issue is that data-carrying electromagnetic waves need to pass through the atmosphere, and several bad things can occur there.

While physical obstacles can be surpassed through a correct installation of your satellite dish, you can do little about weather. When the sky gets very cloudy, rain droplets in the upper atmosphere interfere with the signal, causing problems in Internet connectivity. And, the worse the weather gets, the more chances you have to completely lose access. Storms or snow can interrupt a satellite connection.

Pricing

Last, but not least, price is a major issue here. When comparing different Internet access technologies, satellite-based ones are, by far, the most expensive. To get a high speed connection, you need to pay a big initial subscription fee, plus the usual monthly fees, which are also consistent.

Now, here comes the big “but”, because there is something important to point out in defence of satellite-based services. They are more expensive, but they do not require additional subscriptions. For many alternative types of Internet connections, including DSL, you pay for Net access, but you also need to subscribe to a telephony or satellite TV service. Thus, the overall price might be higher than that of a satellite connection.

When choosing an Internet access service, you need to consider these drawbacks, while also keeping in mind that satellite technology offers generally high-speed networking (higher than in broadband connections) and that it is the only solution if you lack infrastructure.

Robert Kleymore

Robert Kleymore is an Internet technology expert, MIT graduate and a passionate blogger.