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This chapter is from the book

Internet in the Sky: Satellite Internet Access

Satellite Internet service is still in the early stages of developing a user base—and its technology. Satellites can "broadcast" the Internet directly to homes using the same kind of small-dish antennas used for TVs. Satellite access has some real benefits going for it:

  • It can be available to you no matter where you live.

  • You don't have to share lines (or service access) with other users.

  • Under the right conditions, satellite Internet access provides very fast downloads.

  • Second-generation satellite Internet doesn't require a modem. Although its predecessor required a modem for uploading information (from you to the Internet), services such as StarBand and DirecPC offer systems that both send and receive data via satellite.

But look at these down-to-the-ground drawbacks:

  • You don't have a lot of provider options. Only a few companies offer satellite Internet access (Hughes Network system's DirecPC ( and Starband ( are the current biggies).

  • Peak-period Net access can be much slower than the 400 Kbps download/128 Kbps upload "optimum" speeds.

  • The signal is subject to interference from weather, other buildings—even trees. Anything that stands (or moves) between your satellite dish and the satellite can interrupt your connection.

  • The startup costs can be way-high. You need a dish and mount, a satellite modem, and software. All of this can run you hundreds of dollars.

Something's Gotta Give

Right now, it looks like DSL and cable modem are the contenders for high-speed Internet connection, but DSL customer complaints were loud and strong during the first half of 2001. The DSL landscape is still riddled with service and connection quality landmines, but smart providers will clean up their messes soon. Keep an eye on TechTV to follow developments on the DSL-delivery front.

No technology gets to remain a cyberkid for long. Expect improvements in satellite Internet access as the number of players in this field grows.

It's on Tech TV

Get the latest on developments in broadband delivery technology and check out the results of the TechTV broadband survey by visiting the TechTV Web site at

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