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What is satellite internet?

Posted 11 Oct, 2019

Home » Resources » What is satellite internet?

We get a lot of inquiries for satellite internet from M247 – there’s a lot of confusion about what exactly it is and when its best used and what the differences are between wireless internet connectivity. So we asked our technical team to clear things up…

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What is satellite internet?

It’s a wireless connection spread across multiple satellite dishes located both on earth and in space, they provide remote areas of the planet with valuable access to core networks. This keeps them connected, providing them with access to up-to-date information and communication systems.

How does it work?

The diagram above shows an example satellite connection – a dish located at the internet providers’ location (known as the gateway or ground station), a satellite in space (GEO) and a dish placed at the location of the recipient (VSAT). This creates a string of wireless connections spread over thousands of miles.

To maintain a continuous connection the satellite needs to be placed 22,300 miles directly above the earth’s equator. Here it can orbit the earth at the same speed as the earth’s rotation, making it appear stationarity in the sky. This process is known as ‘Geostationary’ and is what makes data communication via satellites possible.

Satellite internet operates in a similar way to land-based internet providers, sending data from point to point. However, with the wireless signal travelling to space and back there can be a significant time delay compared to land-based solutions. Wireless solutions operate in the same way to satellite, but covering a much smaller distance at a lower cost.

What is it used for?

Satellite internet is often used in remote, hard to reach areas. These areas lack the physical infrastructure such as wireless radio connections, telephone or fibre cables. Satellite internet is used as an alternative to mainstream wireless radio internet technology.

A two-way satellite internet connection is providing the user with upload and download capabilities like that of traditional wireless technology. However, satellite internet works as an asymmetrical system. This means that download speeds are often higher than upload. If you compare this to a standard radio connection both the upload and download speeds are the same (symmetrical), this offers businesses a far better service when sharing files, operating VOIP services and video conferencing, where satellite internet will struggle to keep up with the demand.

In addition to latency issues, the cost of installation and up-keep makes this solution too expensive for most businesses. These systems as often used within industries such as shipping and air travel, with their fleets are travelling across oceans where there is no physical infrastructure to connect to. Satellite internet is also often used for military purposes, allowing remote air, land and sea forces to stay connected.

Satellite v’s Wireless – what’s the best solution for your business?

As previously mentioned, satellite internet operates in an almost similar way to standard wireless radio internet technology, where you are not physically ‘plugged’ into the local infrastructure.

The two main differences for businesses are the cost as mentioned before and the latency/speed. Unless your business operates in areas where a standard wireless internet connection is unavailable it is unlikely that a satellite internet connection will provide you with a better level of service.

There is a misconception that wireless internet such as radio is the same as satellite internet. Unless your service is travelling 22,300 miles into space and back your business is not receiving satellite internet!

A wireless connection means you will be benefiting from cheaper operating costs, better speeds and more accessible internet connectivity, allowing your business to operate to a much higher capacity.

Wireless benefits

Wireless services offer a whole host of benefits when compared to satellite and more traditional terrestrial connectivity options like fibre, including;

  • Reduced latency – travelling building to building rather than into orbit.
  • Cost effective and faster installation as does not require a connection into space or access to local infrastructure like traditional fibre)
  • Improved SLA and faster fixes. Due to the point to point connection, there are limited parties involved. M247 can directly fix any connection across our wholly owned network.
  • A fully resilient solution. Businesses that take both a fibre and wireless solutions will have far greater resilience than those who only take a single fibre connection.

Whilst M247 does not offer satellite internet connections (yet), we do offer a range of closer-to-home connectivity solutions suitable for all businesses.

Please speak to a member of our team today for more information.