Federal Internet Law & Policy
An Educational Project
Broadband :: Satellite Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY

Broadband >> Wireless >> Satellite

" Like cable, satellite is a shared medium, meaning that privacy may be compromised and performance speeds may vary depending upon the volume of simultaneous use. Another disadvantage of Internet -over-satellite is its susceptibility to disruption in bad weather. On the other hand, the big advantage of satellite is its universal availability. Whereas cable or DSL is not available to some parts of the United States, satellite connections can be accessed by anyone with a satellite dish facing the southern sky. This makes satellite Internet access a possible solution for rural or remote areas not served by other technologies." -Broadband Internet Regulation and Access: Backbround Issues, CRS Report for Congress, Nov. 21, 2008 (copy acquired through wikileaks)

"Two way service for the residential or small office user has now become commonplace. Satellite service providers, for a variety of prices, offer a variety of tiers of service from consumer-grade Internet access at speeds comparable to cable modems, to wide area networking services at speeds comparable to T-1 levels of service. Satellite provides a key advantage: the ability to reach locations out of reach of services like DSL or cable. For this reason, it is likely to be an important means of filling in the high-speed access map in the immediate future. The ability to reach where there is little or no competition has also tended to allow the service to obtain a price premium compared to cable or DSL services. Satellite data services are not an exact substitute for terrestrial data services. Today, these services are delivered via satellites in high geostationary orbits, which appear from earth not to move in the sky and allow dishes to be pointed at them. This high orbit means that an approximately half-second round-trip delay is introduced into communications. (You can observe this on the television news in the interviews via satellite of reporters in remote locations.) For many applications, such as web surfing or e-mail, this produces no noticeable effects. It may be long enough, however, to complicate such applications as remote access to a LAN. Real-time voice and video communications operating over the data service would also be noticeably degraded." Vermont Telecommunications Plan, Sept 2004 p. 1-18

"In the past, satellite broadband faced certain technological challenges not experienced by wireline technologies. Previous generations of satellites had limited bandwidth, which restricted the speeds available to the consumer. In addition, due to the physical characteristics of satellite technology, latencies are significantly larger than for terrestrial technologies. Starting in 2011, the consumer broadband satellite industry began launching a new generation of satellites which have greatly improved overall performance. As relevant here, the high capacity of ViaSatís ViaSat-1 satellite, which at the time of launch surpassed the total capacity of all current Ku-, Ka-, and C-band satellites over North America,9 together with other technological improvements discussed below, have decreased latency and improved the quality of satellite broadband service available to subscribers. In our testing, we found that during peak periods 90 percent of ViaSat consumers received 140 percent or better of the advertised speed of 12 Mbps. In addition, both peak and non-peak performance was significantly higher than advertised rates. While latency for satellites necessarily remains much higher than for terrestrial services, with the improvements afforded by the new technology we find that it will support many types of popular broadband services and applications." Measuring Broadband America Feb. 2013 

Satellite Service






Satellite Internet Service Providers

See Vantage Point Report

DirecTV (AT&T)

Utilizes Exede service


ViaSat (Exede, Wildblue, Yonder)




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