Broadband News

Is the unlimited party on satellite broadband about to end?

Satellite broadband has played a role in getting broadband to other parts of the UK where commercial operators have found it uneconomic to deliver a service, and there has been lobbying for it to be more widely adopted now that the headline speeds for packages is 20 Mbps - ten times faster than the Universal Service Commitment target.

Alas this bubble has started to slowly pop as users of the services have been complaining of slow speeds on at least some of the packages that are available, delivering 0.5 Mbps to 1 Mbps at peak times and then suddenly speeding up shortly after midnight. Interestingly the speed probe technology used by the providers was still giving customers good speeds, but anything linking to the public Internet would run slow.

The reason for this news item is that resellers have started to drop the unlimited package (generally sold for £75 per month) from their listings and it is being replaced by a 50GB usage limit (with unlimited usage 11pm to 7am).

It is interesting to look at the website, where the core packages are listed, which is currently indicating that the unlimited service is actually limited to just 20,000 subscriptions and the overnight removal of metering only applies to traffic that is for private, family and personal use.

The KA satellites carry many transponders, but these are usually spread out to cover the whole of Europe meaning that for any particular satellite there may only be 3 or 4 transponder beams for the whole UK, and as a transponder has a throughput limit of 475 Mbps this could prove a bottleneck. Oddly the fact that the speed probe tests gave good results, suggests the issue may not be satellite capacity but rather the purchased amount of capacity from the ground station to the Internet at large.


Did you mean to say that speed tests look good because they're being prioritised while real world performance is poor ?

"Interestingly the speed probe technology used by the providers was still giving customers good speeds, but anything linking to the public Internet would run slow."

  • herdwick
  • over 7 years ago

The speed probe appears to be an internal test that operators can use. So not all speed tests look good, just that particular one.

Users report it tests against the modem's IP address rather than their public IP address.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 7 years ago

Great post. Could they be using a speed test that more accurately measures? I know with Avanti, they count on their own test due to the fact external tests such as do not take into account the high latency and end up giving a false reading?

  • HySpeedBroadband
  • over 7 years ago

Our test should manage with no problems, as the delay on the pre-test file is irrelevant on our HTTPx6 test which is designed to run for 8 seconds no matter what the connection (8 seconds as measured at the client end).

Have seen ookla working fine too for satellite users.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 7 years ago

End of the line for me with tooway. I was a very early customer and until the recent capacity miscalculation and subsequent low speeds I was very happy with it. See tooway on my website I can't see why I should pay 40 quid for 2.5 Mbit/s limited service when I can get 1.5 Mbit/s unlimited on a crappy landline for 6 quid. It was good while it lasted. Tooway will not survive the growth of upcoming alternatives and it deserves not to. Bad decisions, bad communication and treating customers like idiots doesn't work.

  • peterscott9881
  • over 7 years ago

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