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Help with satellite broadband: Does it actually work?

My wife’s parents live out in the middle of nowhere in Hampshire.

When you put their phone number into the BT broadband speed checker, the system does the equivalent of burst out laughing, arms crossed, shaking its head.

It estimates a speed of between 0.25mb and 1mb.

This, then, is why when I go there, it’s rather difficult to do anything.

Email is fine, but everything else — Googling, Youtube, Skype, FaceTime, downloading stuff — it’s really, really slow.

So my wife has been doing some research. I’d mentioned ‘satellite broadband’ to her ages ago. She picked that memory up and went hunting. Yesterday she came across Tooway Broadband. It looks pretty user-friendly, it’s two-way, it’s reasonably priced and it’s highly tempting. Her parents are seriously considering purchasing it.

I did a bit of searching myself and there appears to be plenty of Tooway resellers. I liked the look of Tooway Direct.

I’ve been asked for an opinion. This is my issue. I don’t know what to say.

I know that when I last seriously looked at a satellite connection, hardly any services did two-way. I remember reading that they’re managed to solve the internet’s latency requirements with some smart caching/proxy management. I’ve never actually experienced it though.

I’d like to know whether it’s going to be faster than really rubbish broadband. And I’d like to know about the limitations. How does Skype perform? Can you watch a Youtube video without issue? How fast does it ‘feel’? Waiting a ‘moment’ but then experiencing super-fast delivery of stuff would be most certainly workable.

Have you tried any of these services? I’d very much appreciate your feedback!

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

13 replies on “Help with satellite broadband: Does it actually work?”

In had a two way service both at home in europe and at an Indian company I ran for a number of years until about 4 years ago when I eventually got adsl. It was not pleasant and was barely a step up from dial up. The contention ratios are horrendous and unfortunately were spread over Europe so you never actually managed to get time when the bandwidth was exclusively yours. Unlike adsl contention ratios, because most of the customers are paying top dollar, they actually use it most of the time. I would take 0.5mb broadband every day of the week.
I was also not on the cheapest tarif as the company was picking up the bill.

A friend of mine in Wales has it and the speed is acceptable, but the download limits are tiny – 2GB/month – which really minimises its usefulness.

Whatever happened to those WiBE “Super Mifi” units from Deltenna? I could do with one here as I only get 0.5Mb in deepest Berkshire (55mi from the City). Are they coming to market anytime soon?

An old friend of mine who lived in the arse end of nowhere had similar and really struggled, Skype just about worked, but downloads were generally slow and constantly tripped up. They did once comment it was ‘better than nothing’.. although ‘only just’

That really does help Tom, thank you — I’m wavering, I really am. One of the prime reasons for considering an upgrade is to boost Skype/FaceTime and those sort of services which are — as you point out — not going to do very well via satellite…. I’ll need to have a think.

I have satellite out here in Spain via Iberbanda. I’m sure you can check what system they use. It costs about twice the cost of the ‘typical’  phone/internet package deals (approx 120 euros a month) but it works great. Have never had an ongoing issue since installation and endures every type of adverse weather etc you can imagine. I think that the only issues will be dependent on how many people use the ‘line’ at the same time. I suspect that I have very little ‘neighbour noise’ here. so that might be worth looking at.

sorry about delay. One thing you could look at is a lower contention ADSL service – Zen offer some good business BB profiles (10:1 I think) I’m assuming due to the remote location it’s still a bundled exchange which means you can’t get anything helpful since it’s going to be BT wholesale whatever you do. BTW – assume you have checked Virgin and the other cable boys…?

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