That 2-way satellite Internet service
September 17, 2000 3:25 PM   Subscribe

That 2-way satellite Internet service that we were all musing about a few weeks back may be this offering from Gilat2Home, who prudently decided that that was way too...
posted by baylink (15 comments total)

geeky sounding a name, even for geeks, and have apparently changed it to StarBand, even though their website hasn't caught up yet. I've drilled down into the site a bit, to spare you their (tackier than usual) flashturbation.

A local source tells me 400KBs up, 100KBs down, $70 a month, November 1 rollout; how close they hit that, we'll see.

My problem is that they apparently believe that either 1) they'll be able to sell computers pre-equipped with their RF cards, or 2) be able to get people to put *2* RF cards in their computers, or, if someone wants to use their external Satmodem, that USB, rather than IP over Ethernet, is the best way to go.

When *WILL* these people learn to get the glue right?

Oh, of *course* they want to attempt lock-in; MSN is a major partner. <sigh>
posted by baylink at 3:29 PM on September 17, 2000

Speaking of Gilat; I understand they have similar (but not that cheap) service for Europe and the Middle East. Has anybody out there have any experience with them? speed/price?

posted by costas at 4:07 PM on September 17, 2000

Let me get this straight: for twice what I'm paying Road Runner for my cable modem, I'll get one fifth the bandwidth of my cable modem.

How can I pass up such a deal?

Their only market is going to be places where neither DSL nor cable modems are available -- say, cabins in the mountains in Montana. Almost by definition they're bottom fishing; where most of the high tech customer base is located (cities and towns) there exist things like cable TV and phone lines.

By the way, is this a geosynchronous satellite? It seems likely; I doubt they can afford a constellation of LEO. Do you have any idea what the travel time is on four trips to that orbit (up and down for your query and then up and down for the response)? I figure the network imposes half a second between you and the backbone just from speed-of-light, over and above any other delays between you and where you're connecting.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:13 PM on September 17, 2000

Yes, it's a GEO. They don't exactly say, but I think it's an Americom bird; likely one within a degree of 110 or 117.

I don't know about *you*, but *I* only get 450KB/s from TampaBay RoadRunner's *internal test FTP server*. I don't know of anyone in this market who gets more. That's roughly 3 times the bandwidth of a T-1.

That's a solaris box; my test machine is RH6.2 via 10BaseT. 70-90% of that for about 35% more money wouldn't be bad, if you couldn't *get* ADSL or Cablemodem service, and there are a pure *helluva* lot of people who can't.

Now, it's possible my contact was talking kilo*bits*, rather than kilo*bytes*, that would indeed make a difference. We'll see.

And as far as latency, yeah, you and me, us telnet types, will notice, but the web moves big packets over TCP, and it's not that hard to tune TCP for satellite links; BBN did a passable job of it 30 years ago. You just need to support long windows. *I* am more worried about rain fade.

But you know? I have a couple clients with branch offices in East and Southeast Jesus, Kentucky; they're going to be all over this like a bad smell.
posted by baylink at 4:29 PM on September 17, 2000

For the record, I live 6 miles from Chicago and can't get DSL or cable. If I move further away - like 15 miles - I can. So while satellite isn't exactly a great option, it's not really restricted to the boonies of Montana and other western states.
posted by hijinx at 7:42 PM on September 17, 2000

450KB/s is three times the bandwidth of a T-1?
posted by aaron at 10:00 PM on September 17, 2000

A T-1 is 1.5 megabits per second. Counting overhead and idle time and suchlike, 10 bits per byte average is about right, which would make a T-1 about 150 kilobytes per second.

Back when we were all living at 9600 baud, a T-1 was one of those things which loomed glowing in the sky as the unattainable goal of all things. But a T-1 is actually not all that damned fast, and technology has left it far behind. My cable modem routinely gives me considerably more bandwidth than a T-1.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:36 PM on September 17, 2000

So a cable modem would be better to have than a T-1? I'm asking because I'm about to get one. A cable modem, that is. Or should I get DSL?
posted by aaron at 10:47 PM on September 17, 2000

aaron: It's really a toss-up, and depends on the area you're in as to whether or not DSL is better.

For the longest time I yearned for DSL, because it is a single-use line, you don't have to worry about your neighbours using your bandwidth.

However, I was outside the 5km range by, just under 30m. Also, I started reading more and more about both Cable and DSL, from the hype factories and from users.

I don't know of anyone using Sympatico High Speed who has actually had problems like those you hear about with Verant and their ilk, but I did find out that Sympatico renews their IP leases approximately every 8 hours.

That's not what I wanted, since I felt like directly violating my service agreement and setting up a server, so I could play with FreeBSD and Apache and other nifty applications.

I ended up choosing cable, and have had very few problems with it. I've noticed that, for the most part, any speed problems I have are generally the fault of the remote server, or a bottleneck between me and it.

YMMV, of course.
posted by cCranium at 6:13 AM on September 18, 2000

The stories in the DSL ads about "bandwidth stealing" are complete horseshit. The cable companies were about to go to the FTC and complain about false advertising when the DSL companies prudently decided to stop runnng those ads.

The real bottleneck is betwen the system and the network backbone, and that bottleneck exists equally for both cable modem and for DSL. In three years of owning a cable modem I've never had a problem with insufficient capacity on the local link, but we did saturate our connection to the backbone last fall and had a bad few weeks until they could get more capacity installed.

I tried pricing DSL around here (San Diego) and found that the prices were preposterous compared to what I wsa paying for my cable modem. Service and reliability have been completely satisfactory. Unless somethng changes radically, I have no incentive whatever to change.

Don't try to let anyone tell you that DSL is inherently superior. It simply isn't true. It's more a function of how well a particular system is run; you can have good and bad DSL systems, and good and bad cable modem systems. (It is true that Road Runner is better than @Home; @Home has imposed a throttle but Road Runner leaves us alone.)

By the way, my IP lease renews every five hours, but I've had the same IP for months. However, setting up a server is a violation of terms of service, and they do monitor for that kind of thing and will cut you off if they catch you at it.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:18 AM on September 18, 2000

I thought this was a satellite service thread, not a DSL-vs-cable thread ...

Obviously this service isn't for people who already have landline access. It's slyly aimed at those who won't get either DSL *or* cable for some time yet, or who will be mobile.

I wouldn't say that either DSL or cable is inherently superior. For the average surfer, there isn't much difference. Clearly, though, cable vendors get the heebie jeebies if you need a static IP or want to run a server of any kind -- even, in some cases, Napster. DSL is really the only way to go for a home business, and SDSL is the best and most economical broadband for small business no matter how you slice it.
posted by dhartung at 9:45 AM on September 18, 2000

Topic drift? Us? :-)

I do want to take one last shot at:

For the longest time I yearned for DSL, because it is a single-use line, you don't have to worry about your neighbours using your bandwidth.

This is either a common misconception, or horseshit, depending on whether you're a consumer or a provider. :-)

DSL customers share backbone capacity, just like cablemodem users do, it's just that the sharing happens back behind the DSLAM. And it's worse: the Fujitsu DSLAM shelves that GTE/Verizon Florida is using backhaul as many as *48* users out a maximum of *2* T-1 spans to the frame relay cloud.

This Is Bad. :-) But at least it's not PPP over Ethernet.
posted by baylink at 8:49 AM on September 19, 2000

I like my misconceptions, dammit! :-)

Gosh darn disillusionment!

And it's all about high-speed, so it's midly on topic... moreso than in many other threads. :-)
posted by cCranium at 9:22 AM on September 19, 2000

Thanks for the info, everyone. Guess cable's the way to go.
posted by aaron at 10:08 PM on September 19, 2000

aaron: while I definetely recommend COGECO@Home to anyone in Burlington, that's about as far as I'm willing to extend the recommendation. Your best bet's to find people in your area using DSL and Cable, and talking to them about it, figuring out what you want from an internet connection, and figuring out which option will best suit your needs.

obOnTopicBit: I can't wait 'til satellite broadband is roveable. *drool*
posted by cCranium at 6:53 AM on September 20, 2000

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