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Avonline launches up to 30 Mbps satellite broadband
Tuesday 23 June 2015 09:36:36 by Andrew Ferguson

Satellite broadband is nothing new, but Avonline as part of the Innovation Fund that is looking at superfast broadband solutions for the final 5% of households has launched its superfast 30 Mbps satellite service with parts of Aberdeenshire, Antrim, Dumfries and Galloway, Fermanagh and the Scottish Borders county being the launch locations.

The independence from any landline is a crucial part for rural locations and prices start at £24.99 per month for a 10 Mbps service (20GB usage allowance), £39.99 buys you a 24 Mbps connection and 30GB allowance and £49.99 increases you to 30 Mbps with a 40GB allowance. An initial set-up fee is listed as being required but no indication is given of what its cost is.

The Antrim Times covers the launch, but indicates that install and set-up will be free for the first 1,000 customers, so it may be a bit of race to order for those that want to benefit.

Satellite broadband can provide the speeds they are advertising, an example speed test from an up to 24 Mbps solution via the Tooway Direct platform nicely illustrates the latency issue, since the download test takes a long time to start and the latency for small packets at 900ms and above may make some websites perform less than optimally.


Posted by PhilCoates about 1 year ago
Thats interesting.

I am with Avonline paying £75 a month for 20Mbps/6Mbps with a 50Gb download limit.

Download/Upload speeds are rarely as advertised apart from overnight.

One can only hope they don't oversell the service so people can get something like the 'up to' speeds.
Posted by rtho782 about 1 year ago

The 20/6mbit product is on Eutelsat's KA-SAT. It is pretty oversubscribed due to the previous "unlimited" offerings they were doing.

You might get better results on an Avanti service, although the headline speed is lower.
Posted by rtho782 about 1 year ago
The problem isn't really an Avonline one, but that of their upstream service provider.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
The problem is that a single transmission source is covering the entire country. That's what's known as 'Contention in the local loop' ;)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@AndrueC depends on which satellite provider and there are 3 or 4 beams that usually cover the UK, and it is uses on the same beam you contend with usually.
Posted by PhilCoates about 1 year ago

I think my point was more about the lower cost for a potentially faster service than the one I receive.

I rarely download the entire 50Gb per month anyway as most downloads are scheduled to overnight.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
At a guess the lower cost may be partially down to the subsidy level from the Innovation Fund.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
@Andrew: Ah, but that was why I said 'source' not transmitter:)

In the case of satellite reception I consider 'source' to be the available radio spectrum. Last I heard beam shaping can only fit a transmission to a country sized area - they can't direct beams at individual users. So that means all the UK's satellite users are sharing the same radio spectrum.

Unless things have moved on of course.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
Ah. I see things have moved on a bit:

Bottom of first page 'Beam me up'.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
The main problem that BDUK seem intent on creating is the over use of satellite.
For the final 1% who are well beyond any form of fixed broadband, satellite is the only option. It seems to be this group that the pilot is targeting.
However, they are also considering using it as a short term fix to deliver the USC in other areas.
If the Scottish satellite beam is shared between these two groups the pilot may also fail and the final 1% could loose out again!
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Isn't the USC group expected to be about 3% at the end of BDUK's phase 1?

If the satellites (combined) can cope with 1% using 30Mbps, will an extra 2% using 2Mbps make *that* much difference?

If the full 3% try to use it as 30Mbps, rather than USC, then it almost certainly will overload. That is indeed a risk until the phase 3 work gets properly under way.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago

Your links apply to the Eutelsat Ka-Sat, and its 82 ka-band beams.

IIRC, this particular trial is based on the Avanti Hylas satellites.

Hylas 1 has 8 ka-band beams, 2 of which target the UK (one for Ireland and Scotland, 1 for England).

Hylas 2 has 24 beams, but we seem to know less about where they point. The marketing for Hylas 2, however, suggests it may be focussed on places further east and south than the UK.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago

Is there any evidence that the satellites can cope with 1% using 30mbps? Anectodal evidence suggests they cannot maintain that speed on even on current usage
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago

For Ka-Sat, the basic maths is 1 beam = 0.45Gbps
For Hylas 1 and 2, we don't know, so lets assume the same.

Ka-sat: 7 beams cover the UK, but 2 get shared with Ireland and Belgium, so lets calculate for 6 beams.
Hylas 1 and 2: Each have 2 beams for the UK.
10 beams = 4.5 Gbps

Average peak bandwidth is currently something like 150Kbps per user. UK coverage could support 30,000 "average users", or maybe up to 60,000 "light users".

That's a long way short ... yet. More satellites are planned for 2016-17, but finding out out how much will point at the UK appears impossible.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Nowadays, average peak rate comes around 9-10PM, with video streaming, so is probably governed by residential behaviour.

It would seem likely that the Satellite ISPs could sell as many subscriptions again (perhaps more) towards businesses with "traditional" peak demands during the day; demand from such users wouldn't overlap with the residential demands.

To match fixed-line take-up, you need to supply 80% of the market (which is the last 1%) ... and today, you could perhaps reach 20-40% of it.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
Thanks for those numbers.

So to put it in context the total satellite capacity for the UK is about the same as Hyperoptic would supply to service 4 or 5 blocks of flats.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Haha - or the same as one small FTTC cabinet (90 users, averaging 50Mbps each).
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
The 2010 BSG study on satellite capacity gives good information here, at least as background.

In there, they have a study of how the UK's population is distributed around various geotypes, with the following numbers:

To a rough degree, it would appear that BT's commercial coverage maps to "Urban, Suburban 1 & 2", BDUK-phase 1 maps to "Rural 1", BDUK-phase 2 maps to most of "Rural 2", and Phase 3 maps to "Rural-3".

Satellite coverage maps to "Rural-4", where population density is less than 25 per sqkm.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
The map:
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
Great information there, WWWombat. No wonder allowances are so small with satellite provision.
Posted by rhum about 1 year ago
I'm one of the 'lucky' residents from Dumfries and Galloway [D&G] to have received this offer. At first I was very interested so I started to investigate.
Firstly, there are 2 companies involved in providing the subsidised scheme (Avonline and Europastat). I've spoken to them both and have been given some, seemingly, honest advice. They are realistic about the connection speeds but maintain that they will never fall below 40%. There will be no overnight 'free download' available in the offer - so download limits will be rapidly blown - and at £10 per Gb "boost" that could prove costly.
Posted by rhum about 1 year ago
Surely offering this scheme is only going to cause worse download speeds for all if it becomes popular - as the 'cabinet in the sky' will become rapidly oversubscribed. To use WWWombat's extrapolated equiv of 90 users @ 50Mbps each – or say 900 @ 5. The sudden influx of 1000 subsidised users manically trying out their new toy then something will have to give.
Posted by rhum about 1 year ago
Also worrying about satellite b’band here is the fact that in upland areas (ie lots of D&G) there is, inevitably, a great deal of cloud and rain + the wind from the south is often storm force - not conducive to getting internet access from a satellite 40K kms away.
+ the broadband dishes I have seen in the area appear to be a great deal heavier than the SKY TV dishes and probably unsuitable to mount on a wall.

I fear that this particular 'gift horse' may turn around and bite it's vender, and the good folk of D&G are being subjected to more unrealistic internet solutions by their Council!
Posted by rhum about 1 year ago
... addendum ... if anyone is reading this and thinking that they can use either Hylus 1 or Hylus 2 - you can't! The offer is only for connection to Hylus 2 in D&G.

+ the satellite dish must be wall mounted, ground secured will cost an extra £120 - £200
Posted by stuger1959 4 months ago
Dont know why avonline are offering 30mbps satellite broadband,there is no system available in the UK that can guarantee that.Trust me I know ,I have tried them all
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