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Is 25 Mbps satellite broadband really a superfast solution?
Wednesday 04 March 2015 09:44:13 by Andrew Ferguson

The pilot schemes for getting superfast broadband to the final 5% of the UK are edging closer to actual delivery, but questions are being asked once again about the viability of a satellite based solution that uses a mixture of single property dishes and a communal dish with wireless distribution. The solution has been used to get broadband to rural parts of Germany previously.

PriddyBroadband has been set up by some concerned people in the village of Priddy where satellite broadband has been touted as a possible solution to the difficulty of getting fast broadband to the most rural parts of the UK. We have previously chased SES for details of the aggregate bandwidth on the communal dish and it appears that based on the modem that will be used this is 45 Mbps download and 8 Mbps upload, shared between 50 users. Individual users are capped at 25 Mbps which only just makes the UK definition of superfast which is faster than 24 Mbps.

We have been looking for SES satellite service speed tests to see how well they perform but while we know that the competing Tooway service is seeing plenty of speed test results we have not spotted any for an SES solution, if you have an example feel free to tweet us the results (@thinkbroadband or email if you prefer a more private sharing method.

Satellite broadband is a brilliant technology as it can bring broadband to the most remote areas with minimal infrastructure, but given the price of data allowances for the average member of the public and the growing demand for data due to video streaming people are likely to feel very much short changed, when people a few miles away can enjoy a wide choice of retailers with unlimited broadband packages at much lower prices.

Comments

Posted by ahockings about 1 year ago
Completely agree.
For the majority of families living in remote areas it won't cut it at all.
My pathetic 1.7Mbps is rubbish but ok while it's just me using it. As soon as my 3 children turn up, forget it.
With 2 of them on Netflix and the other on YouTube, they could easily use 5GB just in one night!!
Limited broadband is dead I'm afraid and Satellite simply doesn't have the capacity for even the very near future.
Plus of course, terrible latency making complex websites take a painful amount of time to load.
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
Our experience with Tooway was that it often did not work in the evenings, often did not work at weekends, when it rained and certain sorts of cloud cover. Well worth trying it before suggesting as a solution.

As soon as we could we dumped the contract and the Welsh Government grant funded dish now sits on to of a heap of metal destined for the scrap man - waste of money. 0.4 BT unreliable ADSL was better than 8MB sat.



Satellite is a solution of absolute last resort and should be considered a failure of goverment and the market.
Posted by hugop about 1 year ago
My past experience with satellite is not something I wish to repeat or inflict on anyone else in rural parts of the country. Data allowances, speed capping and varying performance make it an 'also ran' technology for the final 5%. BDUK should have listened to those that know, rather than wasting millions on pilot projects that won't provide the solution everyone really needs.
Posted by PhilCoates about 1 year ago
Well if it able to acheive 25Mbps it might be useful, apart from the latency, high cost and risible download limits.

With Tooway on their XXL package at £75 per month, I only acheived 20Mbps in the first month. After that its about 6Mbps and unusable for anything other than basic browing in the evening and at weekends - ususally when you would want it most.

We will need a lot more satellites whose capacity is not oversold to maintain 25Mbps on demand.
Posted by gah789 about 1 year ago
Connect this to the item on Netflix over TTB and you see where the problem lies. There are huge economies of aggregation. A 50-user system will have traffic spikes that are 2-3 times the 95th percentile (the basis for backhaul charging & capacity), whereas for 500 users the excess may be less than 25%.

No current satellite system can cope if average usage at peak times goes from 0.3-0.4 Mbps to > 1 Mbps. Charging for download volume is the wrong metric. It is peak traffic that drives costs which is why systems ration access by congestion.
Posted by gah789 about 1 year ago
Fixed wireless systems face similar problems but it is easier to upgrade key links by putting in higher performance radios. Putting up a new satellite is a lot more expensive! Even so, limits on the amount and characteristics of spectrum available remain critical.

Modern satellite broadband operates in the 19-29 GHz range. Little can be done about fade when there is high moisture in the atmosphere unless you use very large dishes (3+ m). As a consequence community satellite systems require space for a large dish plus a system of local distribution.
Posted by otester about 1 year ago
People voted for the current situation so they should enjoy it!
Posted by kijoma about 1 year ago
a brilliant technology? What are you smoking?

"a communal dish with Wi-Fi distribution. " welcome to 2001 , the days of satellite fed wifi mesh.. the quangos thought it great back then too and showered them with cash.. where are they now? , what Gov will do brush the remainder of the problem under the carpet.
Posted by kijoma about 1 year ago
ahh just realised, the article is by Andrew, the same guy who thinks WiMax is what fixed wireless providers use.. Do some research please?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Am happy to have pleased someone today, as now changed the word Wi-Fi to wireless.

I used Wi-Fi in this context originally as it has been mentioned in some comms over the trial and Wi-Fi is the word used on the SES site.

http://www.ses-broadband.com/20634294/15-02-12-astra-connect-uk-satellite-pilot
Posted by leexgx about 1 year ago
and even if you do get SAT broadband do not expect the company to stay open or more then 4 years (i had one person who used SAT for broadband (annoyingly the Main trunk cable for Virgin media is directly out side his house) any way he had about 4 sat providers before he give up and just settled with 2 ADSL connections (1 2mb when it worked other one 1.3mb witch seemed to always work)

wireless broadband can never work for in mass as it has limited bandwidth
Posted by herdwick about 1 year ago
"2 of them on Netflix and the other on YouTube" - tell them to watch Sky instead. A better use of satellite technology - broadcast.
Posted by benhainesuk about 1 year ago
I tried a Tooway service via AVonline Broadband for three months, but eventually gave up and returned it.

The latency is manageable, but caused issues with VPN connections. Ultimately is was data caps (despite the package being called "Unlimited") and the resulting throttling that made it useless for my purposes - tech guy working from home.
Posted by cyberdoyle about 1 year ago
Finally we have reached the end of route 5 in one of our parishes, very remote area, no broadband available nor even dial up. 12 customers on satellites will get a gigabit fibre this month. They use different satellite providers, but they all say they can't wait for a proper connection. They run out of data, they pay a fortune, upload is poor, latency hopeless, unreliable in bad weather etc etc. How the government can waste our money on this is beyond me. Its a stopgap. A quick fix for limited access.
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