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Can I get satellite broadband?

Thursday, March 21st 2013

Satellite broadband is available throughout the country and a great option for rural residents who are battling with slow broadband speeds and unable to upgrade to fibre optic.

Here’s everything you need to know about satellite broadband, including the benefits, download speeds, equipment and costs.

Is satellite broadband any good?

The principal benefit of satellite broadband is that it’s available to everyone, no matter how remote the location. Wherever you live in the UK, you can establish a connection with download speeds up to a very respectable 22Mbps.

Also, satellite broadband is available without a phone line, so there’s no line rental to pay on top of your subscription fee. Plus, it can be installed in addition to a fixed-line broadband service (if you live in an area with coverage), giving you a second ‘always on’ internet connection if your fixed-line service in unreliable.

How fast is it?

The actual speed you’ll get from satellite broadband will depend upon the service you choose, with 22Mbps being the current upper limit. Cheaper up to 5Mbps options are available, but bear in mind that whichever you choose it’s possible that performance may suffer at peak times, just as with fixed-line broadband.

What equipment do I need?

Your subscription will include a special satellite broadband dish, and a satellite modem. Beyond this the only equipment you’ll need is a computer running a Windows, MAC or Linux operating system with an Ethernet networking card.

Just as with traditional broadband you can connect a compatible wireless router to your satellite modem to broadcast the internet connection throughout your home. Wireless routers aren’t included as standard but your provider should be able to supply a suitable model as an added extra.

Will it work in any weather?

If it’s been professionally installed your satellite broadband dish should be able to cope with winds up to 100mph. Unfortunately, heavy rain and snow can lead to a drop in performance as the signal becomes scattered by the moisture in the atmosphere – although your provider should work to address such disruption by increasing the strength of the signal.

Allowing snow to build up on the surface of the dish can severely affect connection speeds, but this can be rectified by carefully brushing the snow away with a soft broom.

How will it be installed?

The quickest and easiest way to get online is to have everything installed by your provider, and they should also arrange for Ofcom approval to ensure that your dish won’t interfere with any existing devices in the area. As your provider will have experience in dealing with Ofcom this is by far the quickest and easiest set-up method.

Alternatively, you can self-install if you feel confident enough. You'll need a clear line of site to the south-south-eastern sky, and the dish must be accurately positioned, even more so than a satellite TV dish. It’s due to the precision required that the dish must be affixed to concrete or brickwork, rather than wood, which can stretch and contract.

Which internet service providers offer satellite broadband?

Fixed-line internet service providers (ISPs) such as Sky and Virgin Media, do not offer satellite broadband services. Instead, the technology is available from satellite specialist companies, such as Europasat and Tooway.

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This ensures you receive accurate information on the availability of providers and packages in your area.

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