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The Internet

Satellite-Delivered Broadband Gets Louder 180

David Savage writes: "AOL and MSN are about to announce the release of broadband Internet connections that will allow users to access the Internet at cable and DSL speeds via satellite dishes. The MSN service will allow users to download and upload data via a satellite dish. The AOL service on the other hand will require users to upload data through a regular dial-up connection and download through the dish. Both plans will have prices that compete with current cable and DSL prices, but will have hefty setup fees (in the hundreds of dollars). Both companies are planning to begin offering their broadband services, which will be available almost anywhere within the U.S., in the next couple of months." As the article points out, satellite access has been around for a while but whether because of cost, complexity or low marketing not made the splash that cable and DSL access have. But when the 800-pound gorillas (AOL and MSN) jump in, that scene could change a lot. I'd like a little price competition in space (since it seems more likely than among local land-bound connections), but why can't the dishes and setup be free like they are with satellite TV promotions?
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Satellite-Delivered Broadband Gets Louder

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  • Why most it cost $40/month anyway? I don't see the utility or the reasoning. Personally it has to break for the modem limit (traditionally for years and years $19.95 for national providers and much lower like around $7 or less for basic access in state providers). Why the hell is broadband still so expensive any way? If they want people to use it perhaps they need to get the damn price down to reasonable levels.
  • by Space ( 13455 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @06:15PM (#825261) Homepage
    The 2-way satellite connection is provided by Gilat-To-Home [gilat2home.com] a digision of Gilat [gilat.com] which has been used by companies for a while now. The dish has to be professionally installed to make sure you dont accidentally transmit at a military satellite or something. To alleviate the problem of rain fade common in DTHTV signals, the receiver will step down its reception speed to verify all incoming packets. The advertized speeds are minimumn upload of 128kbps, nominal 384kbps and maximum burstable download speed of 1.5Mbps.
  • Wireless uploads? Cool. So far, Pacific Bell hasn't done anything but lie about when they'll have DSL installed, and we're probably never going to get cable modems installed here. Sattellite was never an option for us because upload speeds are still in the 24-36 kbps range. This MSN dish seem to be the solution since the only infrastructure is the the sattellite in space and the dish on the roof of your house. If the upload speeds can get to be around even 128k, then we would order that up ASAP.
  • Really, I think they should make a mod like +1 paranoiya(sp?) just for this type of post.

    And yet, it gets a +1 informative. Only on Slashdot...

    And yes, the hw requirements are a slight jab at the trend of bloatware that comes from our favorite company, but most of the post applies to AOL's ventures into this arena as well.

    Part of the problem/reason is what we've already seen with DirectPC - it's very much a Windows-only "solution" to high-speed access. IIRC, Win9x-only at that. Blech!

    Paranoid rants aside, I honestly don't think that Microsoft and AOL will allow for platforms that they cannot fully control. MS's control is obvious. AOL can resort to tricks like taking over the network adaptor configuration (like the PPP debacle with AOL 5.0), and say things like "Oh, Connection Sharing? Sorry, we don't support that, so we disable it. Read your licence agreement again, it's in there.. "

    But neither of them can fully control other platforms like that, nor do we want them to.

    At the very least, it'll come down to what platforms can they actually support. Details are sketchy, so writing drivers may or may not be an issue, but certainly I doubt that AOL or even MS has the resources (or desire) to take calls from every quasi-major platform user that they may see.

    Hell, my ISP escalates me immediatly when they hear me say the word "Linux" - 'cos the front-line folks don't have a clue how to deal with tshooting it (even though I've done all that anyway before I call).

  • Yeah, laying your own cable network is the major barrier to entry. And remember, not only do you have to run all the network that goes to the buildings, you have to get multi-family buildings to have your cable and the existing cable both going running through their building. Might be possible when a new building goes up, but who's going to agree to all the work neccessary to pull your new cable lines into an existing apartment building?
  • Weren't the Iridium phones transmitting to a satellite? In fact, since they weren't directed antennae (thus the signal can is strong even outside a narrow beam), wouldn't the FCC have had a greater problem with those than with these?

    As to your other point, I would darned well hope that the signals were encrypted or (the dereaded security through obscurity method) were only receivable by special devices.
  • They still want more people to come on despite the hit to quality because that means more people giving them money. The local cable guys are getting to the point where many older customers are switching to one of the ADSL providers, just so they can have a guarenteed bandwidth and more reliable service. In all the time I've had cable, I've never seen a download above 70K/s, and usually I'm around 40. Still faster than a modem, but not as fast as they advertise it as being "capable" of. The fleeing customers have prompted a really cheesy ad campaign that's trying to convince people that just because _every_ subscriber won't be using the service at the same time, it means that only one will.
  • Qwest? I thought they were a telco...
    Anyhow, I'm sure there are some areas where there are options for cable service, I just don't think that its very common.
  • I see an awfull lot of people pointing out the problems with this service, and yes, most of them are right...however, I think we all need to keep 2 things in mind. 1)this is new technology...most new technologies are expensive and sucky...it will probably get better in both regards, given just a little time 2)I dream of one day taking off and going and living in the middle of nowhere in the rocky mountains...For much of my work, I am very dependant on my high speed net links (but also, I could survive bad latancy). Unless somebody with way too much money starts putting fiber in absolutely ridiculous places....this is the only way I will ever be able to fulfill my little dream...
  • I've been a beta tester on the Gilat system since June. While the initial service was intermittent, it has improved dramatically in the last several weeks. Yes, it is slow. Minimum latency seems to run around 800 ms but I get typical download speeds 10 to 20 times faster than my 56k modem. Since I'm not into either gaming or internet telephony, the latency doesn't seem to bother me too much. I agree with some of the other posters that installation of the system is an issue with widescale acceptance. It took two installers 8 hours to get the dish installed and pointed correctly and they had to come back a second time to get it pointed at the right satellite. The dish is oval shaped (about 3X2 feet) and can also receive satellite tv programming (which I am not signed up for). Since I was invited to be a alpha tester, I have not had to pay anything for the service which I can apparently keep for free until Jan. 2001. They have not told us what the cost will be after that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 26, 2000 @08:27PM (#825270)
    This might work for surfing and email if you can't get DSL or cable, but it's pretty much worthless for any real networking where latency is an issue.

    A satellite in geosynchronous orbit is 22,300 mi away, minimum (at least according to the linked article). According to my math, that's about .12 light-seconds. In other words, it takes a signal 120 milliseconds to get from the satellite to the earth.

    Think about telnet, or quake, or something like that. You press a key, and a packet gets sent. 120ms later, it reaches the sat. The sat sends it back down to a station, that takes another 120ms. Ignoring any latency on the ground, the ack for that packet takes 120ms to reach the sat and another 120ms to get to you. We're up to nearly half a second. Now add any ground-based latency, and you are one sorry-ass High Ping Bastard.

    And of course your actual rate of download will depend on how large the TCP window is, 'cause it takes the same half a second for you to ack that MP3 file being beamed to you from outer space...

    Low earth orbit satellites make *much* more sense for Internet because of this problem. Too bad no one could redo Iridium satellites to route IP! Of course, your favorite billionaires, Bill Gates and Craig McCaw, are collaborating on an outfit called Teledesic [teledesic.com] to do LEO sat Internet, but they are targeting 2004 for service start... which probably means more like 2006+, if ever.

  • Yes, but they can agree that this holds potential for profit, and in corperate-land profits are usually a good thing.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but IM software isn't exactly hauling in the $$ is it? Just my thoughts...
  • I didn't think so. ~ : ^ )
  • I am not really that dim. Without some information I'll give you but not dim. As far as being a tightwad I really don't think I should care. Basically what these companies are trying to do is get away with forcing real people to pay on average *more* for their access than they were paying in the past. In fact *double* or *more* what they were paying. This is a bad thing. People have certain rights in the marketplace and they are being ruined by people who are fixing the price artifically high to prevent continued affordability. Also these companies have subtly tried to coerce/influence/brainwash people into *needing* something that damn fast. It used to be in America and the world over people actually wated for things and had to think about the costs and the consequences before they bought. The price must be decreased if this is to be the future technology or everyone will suffer.
  • by Zilch ( 138261 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @08:39PM (#825274)
    No, it's impossible to upload data to a satellite. In fact becuase of this, all data that you receive from a satellite has to be generated up there, so they employ heaps of midget space-faring webmasters to create pages for people on the service to view. :-)

    - Zilch

  • I think we are going to need a few more satellites.

    Have a look over here:

    Lyngsat [lyngsat.com]

    Looks pretty crowded up there already ;)
  • just wondering
  • by gammatron ( 120978 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @08:45PM (#825277)
    What kind of latency could we expect from an upload / download connection?

    Short answer: Its rilly, rilly bad.

    Think about it. That satellite is a long way away - geosynchronous orbit is 22,236 miles up - and your packets have to up to the satillite and back down to the ground station - thats 44,472 miles one-way. The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, so in optimal conditions, you're looking at almost 500 milliseconds for a ping to your ISP.

    Games are pretty much unplayable. Large transfers are fast, as long as you don't drop any packets. Filling that pipe is a bitch!
    --

  • Actually, I just recently set up a DirecPC system myself. I went outside and got a friend to watch the signal strength meter, took about 10 minutes to get the thing aimed correctly. And that was with very little experience with that kind of thing, someone who does that kind of thing all the time should be able to do it in less time.
  • Cable costs $40 a month for the same reason that cable television _starts_ at $30 a month: no competition. Every city I've lived in has had two companies, who each supply about half the city, with no overlap, and therefore no choice.

    And I really, really don't want more people using cable. There's too many now.
  • That's what I have and it works well. I have few people except telemarketers who ever call anymore and persoanlly I don't see the need of having the second line. I also don't squander all my money on long distance charges so it works ok too. Also as I recall cable modems are subject to network saturation via large ammounts of local users and thus if I was going to waste the big money I would go for DSL. Also ISDN crapped out with per minute charges (personally I like free unlimited per month fees).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've been beta testing the AOL version of for a few weeks now, and the connection speed is always inconsistant. Sometimes I get 650 kbps sometimes I get 25 kbps, and I have 56K modem.
  • Months ago, I visited Gilat2Home's web site to express my interest in 2-way satellite Inet access. I live in the middle of nowhere, and dialup is just too slow. 28.8 connections are almost unheard of here. Anyway, to beta test the Gilat2Home system, they wanted $499 up front, which entered me in a contract to subscribe to their service at a cost of $69.95/month after the trial period. What if I don't want the service afterwards? Well, that's just another measly $400 to get out of the contract. Hmmm, seems like a great way to win people over, eh? Oh! Also, for those of you out there who haven't realized it yet, Gilat2Home and DirecPC are their own companies and provide Internet access completely independent of MSN or AOL. That's just a new twist :/
  • Will these two new online services limit the amount of time to be online? I know DirectPC does this. The download speed is nice, but the latency and upload speed are still problems, especially if I want to run a server and play online games. xDSL and cable modem services are not in my area. :(

    I look forward to receiving comments on this.

  • That might explain it. How hard would it be to create another company that say did a better job? What are the barriers to entry to the cable industry? Also why would it hurt to get cable access in a local area? Are there usage maps for particular zip codes and the like to determine what areas are saturated with trafic and usage and which are not? If more and more people are going to hurt the system then why do they want more and more people to subscribe. In my local area I have had at least 4-5 ads for the service from AT&T or TCI or whatever come across my door. I just ignore them myself. Personally I can wait for my content and be happy.
  • http://www.gilat2home.com/index2.html [gilat2home.com]

    Details on how it will work here [gilat2home.com]
    From the page: "The GTH system both sends requests to the Internet and receives the requested Internet content via a Ku-band satellite in geostationary orbit approximately 22,300 miles above the equator. The satellite, in turn, communicates with GTH's hub facility, which has a direct connection to the Internet. The result is two-way satellite Internet service that provides high-speed, always-on access on par with other broadband technologies, such as cable modems and DSL. Best of all, no telephone connection is needed, no terrestrial Internet account is required, and the service is available in any location that enjoys a clear view of the satellite. The GTH satellite dish is also capable of receiving EchoStar's DISH Network? 500-channel satellite television programming. By taking advantage of this capability, a single antenna can provide two-way satellite Internet service ,as well as receive DISH Network satellite television programming from two EchoStar satellites. Additional information about this combined offering will be provided in the near future on this Web page.

  • Yeah, well. You know what I'm sick of? People whining that they can't get free internet access. It's a freaking utility. Do you expect to get electricity for free? Phone? Gas? So why should you expect that for internet access?

    It makes sense to offer low-cost dial-up plans for people who are legitimately *really* poor, just like the phone company does...but whining that DSL and cable are just too expensive and about how the "elites" are keeping it all to themselves? Gimme a freaking break. It's expensive to lay the infrastructure for high-bandwidth connections, and contrary to popular belief, phone and cable companies are not making money hand-over-fist off these services.

    (I know, I know, cry me a river...but these companies are in business to make money, and they've got to cover their costs like anyone else.)

    Someday, high-speed access will be cheap/free, when bandwidth is no longer a scarce good. But by then, we'll have changed our idea of what "high-speed" is, so people will be whining about that, I'm sure.

  • Advantage: If I have the time and the Patience, I can mount this sucker on my RV, and get broadband in the middle of the damn Death Valley if I wish. :-)

    (Yes, there's the whole aiming, etc to worry about.. But screw that, I'm patient)
    Now don't tell my bosss I can get 768K per sec when I go vacationing... But he might not care.. esp since telnet will be lagged to fuck.

    Owell I see farmers, and others in the boonies buying this, and loving this. If I was in Bublefarq Ks, and this was my only option than 28.8 dial up.. I'd take it.. in a heartbeat

  • Its the first time I've seen send AND receive capability in satillite systems for consumer use.
    -----
    "My kernel can beat up your kernel"

    "I use Windows 2000. Get over it."
  • Hundreds of homes have already been equipped with Gilat2Home [gilat2home.com] systems as part of the final phase of pilot testing. Testers are forbidden to share info with public sources, but many are contributing anonomously at alt.dbs.echostar [alt.dbs.echostar] and other satellite oriented newsgroups. More info can be found at this page [echostaruser.org] at The Echostar Knowledge Base [echostaruser.org].

  • I'm currently working with a company who is deploying broadband wireless via 802.11 in a major metropoliton area. We are, using currently avalible technology, acheive 10mb at a range up up to 25 miles with around 100-200ms ping time. The equipment is pretty cheap, and we are in the works of arranging a deal with the manufacturers to customize it with encryption to keep it from interfering with any other 802.11 network. The only problem is it's going to such for anyone who has an american 2.4GHz phone, because it knocks them right off the band. On our current configuration we can support up to 1500 concurrent connections. We are planning to wire up buildings with 100mb backbone on top to offer it to an entire building all at once.
  • bah. You know what I mean... upload to a satellite from your house. :-)

    ---

  • by 8Complex ( 10701 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @09:05PM (#825292)
    In IRC: "Come on! Just send me the RedHat ISO, I'm on Sattelite!!"

    On web sites, 1.2meg 1280x1024 graphics scaled down to 30x30 graphics thanks to Microsoft Frontpage(tm) and all the chaotic pages it creates.

    In email, problems with people trying to send 15 meg file attachments and recieving them back constantly.

    Talk about a Tech. Support nightmare!
  • . .much less a nationwide telecomunications infrastructure.
  • Why not just say "Windows 2000 required"? If you have Win2k running on your computer, you probably more than meet those requirements. Leave it to Microsloth to make an internet connection that needs 300MB of disk space.

    On a side note, does anyone think those reqs might be to help sales of Win2k or WinME? I'm sure there'll be some people who will upgrade just to use this.
  • MMDS is Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Services. Like I said before, I'm not an RF specialist so I'm not totally hip on it either. It's a certain segment of spectrum set aside within an area for use only to the entity that holds the FCC license for it. If you'd like more information, you can try http://www.nucentrix.net for information on their service which uses it, or you can try http://www.google.com to search the web. There's plenty of info out there, i'm just too lazy right now to get it. :)

    eudas
  • Well the MSN one sounds good, but the AOL one has a problem. You still need to upload via dialup which means you cant get rid of that phone line. For me personally, aside from the speed increase, I could justify a $40/month cable modem because I could get rid of the extra phone line I was using for dialup. $20/month for an ISP and about $20/month for the phone line so going to a cable modem cost me nothing. So i dont really see too many people jumping over to AOL's satellite service just for this reason alone.
  • right... a ping has to come back to you also, so thats 2 round trips.

    --
  • First off: Didn't the FCC regulate the transmission of data via satelites to recieve-only? I thought you had to have a special permit to send data.

    Anyway, my question is: Wouldn't it be easier to eaves drop on a satelite internet connection (especially one that's used to both send and recieve data) or is the transmission encoded before it gets thrown out as electromagnetic radiation?

    hobbz
  • What kind of latency could we expect from an upload / download connection?

    What would be the maximum speed per satellite?

    How well will these dishes be able to sync up on a very cloudy / stormy day?

    I guess, still you cannot dare say these will be as reliable as a dedicated connection. But does anyone know the answers to even these SIMPLE questions?
  • I heard something a while back about allowing people to gain internet access through the powerlines. They said they may impliment this in the future. Does anybody know what kind of speed this will bring and if it will be able to compare to today's home broadband standards (DSL, Cable, satellite)?
  • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @05:50PM (#825301) Homepage
    The only thing that makes this news is who's doing it. DirecTV's been doing it for some time now. It works ok if you're pulling news feeds or streaming media, etc. but stinks on ice for anything else because you're placing proxy requests with the landline (@ 33.6k or less) and they fulfill them at high speed via unused channels. This whole thing could be thought of as a interactive version of DirectTV or Dish network but nothing more.
  • There are some barriers with radio and physics. The reason for the dish is because of the frequencies used. Too see broadband in your car will be difficult, because:
    1. You have to use an omnidirectional antenna, for mobile operation. This means you have to use more wattage and cause more interference to the band. 2. It would generally have to be below 1 Ghz, which would limit bandwidth, and also, a lot of frequencies are already allocated to Cell and Comsumer products in that band.
    -----------------------------
  • True, but remember, DirecPC has this exact same setup too...

    And some cablemodems required a modem uplink too - they were one way devices. I don't think many providers have it this way anymore...

    And for most people, a fast downstream (with huge latency > .5s) is more important than upstream. Just that 'most' != /. readers >G<.
  • by Bourbon Man ( 76846 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @06:25PM (#825304) Homepage
    I had (briefly) a connection thru a local cable company who used vsat as their connection. My ping in quake shot up to around an unplayable 900. Gamers will not like satellite-based internet. On the other hand, people and businesses who need bandwidth and won't be affected by lag will find it very nice. My download speed was phenomenal. Web pages loaded *much* slower than on my current DSl due to the lag. The one second delay in requesting the page is enough for DSL to have the page already displayed. One of you physics/math types should be able to figure out how long at C it takes for a signal to hit geosynchronus orbit and get back, times 2 for the return trip.
  • I wonder exactly how Time Warner comes into this considering how they are in the process of merging with AOL. Why would the AOL-Hughes' satellite broadband service try to compete with cable if that's exactly what Time Warner um, err, Time Warner AOL does: cable? A plan in case they have to get rid of part of the future Time Warner AOL? What?
  • The house I grew up in is so far out of town that we only got real electricity, a phone line we didn't string ourselves, and pavement within walking distance in the last 5 years. Hell, we didn't even have a phone til I was 7. I searched far and wide for info about satalite broadband and couldn't find any info at all. Of course, now I have an apartment downtown and I'm hooked up with DSL. Once HDSL becomes a reality they'll be able to serve most people within 50 miles of a central office, and according to a friend of mine at Pacific Bell that's happening soon. I think this is a case of too little too late.

  • Can't comment on FCC regs, but it would rather suprise me if you could do sat transmissions without a permit (and expensive equipment).

    But, yes, it's extremely easy to eavesdrop on sat communications. the only thing holding it back is that encryption. Other than that, just about anybody anywhere could listen in. The trouble would arrive when you try to figure out who requested what documents :)

    my guess would be that each transmission would start with a ID number, which says who gets what, and that it's encrypted, then decrypted in hardware by the satellite dish/receiver/whatever, unique to that dish. Of course, I really don't know, and this is a pretty random guess. moderate security, pretty expensive (although not overly difficult) to eavesdrop.

  • I work for Radio Shack and we had a training seminar with a MSN representative a month ago. I explicitly asked during the Q&A session if the satellite service would work with 'alternate' operating systems. He kinda floundered saying something about it wouldnt be supported. I tracked him down after the meeting and managed to find out that it uses a satellite decoder that strips off the encryption and passes standard TCP/IP through an ethernet port. So in case you're wondering if it'll work with your Linux/BeOS/*BSD/etc box the short answer is YES!
  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @06:28PM (#825309)
    . .Thousands of Gilat satelites conected to linux boxes, all aimed at Redmond.
    [cue maniacal laughter]
    [pet kitty]
    [kiss pinky ring]

  • I just think this is another step in the whole move to wireless in just about everything. I know more people who have forsaken the land line for just a cel phone. And I know alot who have gotten rid of cable for dishes as well. The cost of wiring everyone to all the networks is quite high. Using radio is prolly alot cheaper than throwing fiber all over the place. The one thing that would be nice though is a way to do the internet satellite link with out the dish. Then it would be a real killer app for whoever made a handheld computer that uses it. I guess we just have to wait for the 150k cel service.
  • What are the barriers to entry to the cable industry?

    Disclaimer: I work for a cable company. This comment does not represent the ideas of my employer.

    There really aren't any barriers per say, and many communities have more than one cable company (the one I live in, for example). Most of them are servicing apartment buildings, setting up bulk agreements with the building managers/owners. Sometimes they are good, sometimes not so good. If they are good, and can reach a profitability stage, they can begin to expand to normal residential service. But, there is a very high price to setting up a broadband cable network (or a CLEC, or whatever). That is one reason that wireless is a big deal right now. Wall street is seeing how much it costs to upgrade wired networks and doesn't want to foot the bill. So, the investors are convincing the government that it makes much more sense to sell wireless spectrum to the highest bidder. This has the effect of taking out the small players (auctions are very expensive), lets the feds pay off the debt (theoritically - one of the big reasons the budget will "ballence" is becuase of projected revenue from spectrum auctions), and takes money out of local communities - that franchise fee you pay on your cable bill every month.

  • I've been designing VSAT systems in the military for a few years, so hopefully I can answer most of your questions. Hughes-Olivetti (among others) offers VSAT service here in Europe, and the VSAT service we have with them uses primarily 3 types of medium access. When your transceiver sees that you have only a few small packets to transmit, it uses a protocol known as slotted ALOHA. It just transmits a packet during synchronized time slots and hopes there's no collision; if so, it just keeps trying after random wait times just like CSMA/CD. The second method, used for larger uploads, is called transaction reservation. Just like a cell phone, the transceiver lets the satellite know that it has a large chunk of data to send, and the satellite gives it a time frame in which to do it, usually all in one lump. The third method is to request a dedicated channel out of your guaranteed leased bandwidth, but I don't think that's applicable for what we're talking about here. As far as security goes, I'm not sure it's something to worry about (but I'm one of those weird trusting types!) To intercept your uplink, someone would have to be right in front of the dish; the side lobes aren't that strong. On the downlink, which is all TDM, an eavesdropper would have to know the IP address of the person they are trying to target, not to mention the specific freq of the transponder the target is on. It would be less trouble to just tap their phone line! I must admit I don't know what the service providors have in mind for security, but I'd like to think they have something in the works.
  • Its certainly true that for ./ readers such as myself satelite links sound crappy and slow. But lets not forget the first priority of the whole shebang. . .to get new CUSTOMERS online. My grandma is a new internet user who lives out on the outskirts of Mesa, AZ. This would be perfect for her--hook this up to a web box like Compaq's iPaq and she'll be happy for the rest of her life with her email, news and most importantly, shopping.

    Just imagine: instantly, there's world wide internet available EVERYWHERE, regardless of lag. Competitively price it, and then imagine the impact that this tech gone mainstream would have on the sagging, bloated internet economy.

    s

  • I can really see these satelite services charging per data transfered. Or monthly fee, for 1 gig or so, and then having to pay extra.

    I don't think thats how DirecPC does it, but it could be.
  • by rxmd ( 205533 )
    That was really informative :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes the speed is 2.5GB/Sec. Forget all of this other crap. If power lines work,the whole phone and cable industry will be turned on it's head. http://www.mediafusionllc.net/northamerica/main/ho me.html
  • Obviously, it's great if you're out in the middle of nowhere and a modem (or nothing) is the only alternative. But it's not gonna be really nice until the thing you're sending to is a lot less than a quarter-light-second away.
  • the barriers to entry probably consist of

    1. network buildout (laying the cable, setting up bandwidth, etc)
    2. overcoming advertising of companies like timewarner
    3. some other things i probably forgot

    to be more explicit, in (2) above i refer to timewarner. what i mean by that is timewarner is a juggernaut. they own the cablemodem internet service that they provide and they own the tv service they provide. the tv service sells quite well due to the semi-monopoly mentioned previously and gives them an advertising advantage. in order to overcome this advertising advantage you would either have to provide your own tv service to consumers (with all the costs associates with THAT business) or you would have to pay them to advertise on their networks to reach their consumers, which would still cost you and put money into their pockets (which is their end goal anyway). either way it's tough and you're getting the short end of the stick in the competition.

    in (1) above, i refer to network buildout. i don't know much about timewarner's buildout, but it probably involves quite a lot of cable laid in various places. this was probably expensive to do, which is a barrier to entry and paid off only over a long amount of time. (i could be wrong.) for the internet side of things, you've got to have your routers, servers, switches, bandwidth, and redundancy in all of those things. (not to mention personnel.) the last-mile war is probably more of a pain in the ass to do, though. several companies, like the one i used to work for (http://www.nucentrix.net if you care), are attempting to circumvent this by creating their own last-mile arena in the form of fixed-point wireless services. they hold licences for MMDS spectrum usage in certain areas, and are converting its use from wireless cable tv to wireless internet service. they put an antenna/transceiver on your roof which transmits/receives a signal from a local tower, run RG-6 cable down to a cablemodem inside the building, and a 10baseT ethernet jack on the back of that plugs into your pc/router/hub/whatever. there are limitations to this, however, the most notable that there must be line-of-sight from the transmission tower to the target antenna. line of sight is sometimes difficult to obtain, because even if the terrain map shows line-of-sight on the lay of the land, there may still exist other obstructions like buildings, trees in front of your house, etc. Multipath is also an issue, although since i'm not an RF specialist, i won't go into that. in any case, unless you build your own last mile you'll still end up giving the existing companies a share of your profits, and if you do build your own then you're incurring an even larger cost to yourself, at least intitially.

    i would like to include a mild disclaimer at the end of this post: i don't guarantee anything i write to be 100% correct, and if you find that i speak falsely about anything herein, feel free to correct me. please just don't be a jerk about it.

    eudas
  • i dunno, aren't most upstream data requests mouseclicks and simple data requests? aside from servers and gaming, high outbound data bandwidth is probably not as much of a priority.

    just a clueless $0.02.

    eudas
  • Latency is increased.
    Download speed is same.
    Upload speed on AOL is slower.
    Setup fee is greater.
    Monthly/yearly fee is same.
    Can work anywhere as long as a point in the sky is visible.

    So basically, it offers the advantage of working pretty much anywhere (for areas that don't have cable) provided you are willing to put up with higher latency and a higher initial cost.
    Are there any other advantages??
  • here's a better link:

    http://www.wdslconsortium.com/mmds.html

    eudas
  • The InternetII is definetly not some commie .edu plaything. It is used for research which in turn results in education -- the reason universities exist as an institution anyhow... Where was the Internet mainly developed anyway? Universities of course. The InternetII is a developmental high speed network, and in time it will transcend from the educational world into public use. The Abilene [ucaid.edu] backbone (and others like it) will probably be one of the next generation Internet backbones, helping to route the ever increasing stream of packets.

    As for Universities not deserving the reduced price bandwidth, give me a break... Tuition is high enough already. Did you know that many Universities lease out excess bandwidth to corporations and smaller schools? Savings aren't just squandered and resources don't go unwasted. Smaller schools struggle to make use of the limited bandwidth they even have. How else do you think the MP3 craze could bring campus networks to their knees? Legitimate research and information sharing is severly hampered in today's world when the bandwidth isn't available on campus.

    Don't attack educational institutions... That is where some of the best developments in technology come from in the first place!

  • You are wrong by twice. 250 milliseconds is the "air time" round trip delay. There is also the "processing delay", the modulation and demodulation and that adds roughly 100 ms so the ping shouldn't be more than 350 ms...still sucks for gaming but doesn't add up to much when waiting for html or ftp.

    There are tons of problems with this delay over TCP. TCP is looking for a reply much quicker than 350 ms so it assumes the link is errored and halves the session transmission rate. This continues down to about 200 Kbps (depending on your TCP window size) where it stabilizes. To make the session speed higher, the satellite operator "spoofs" the TCP both at the uplink and the consumer's box. With this technique (described in an RFC) single session speeds can reach many, many megabits per second.

    As far as filling the pipe, both systems mentioned in the post use a shared~27 Mbps carrier on the forward channel (to the subscribers... like cable modem). The return channel (back to the ISP) is also shared but at a much lower rate (128 - 150 Kbps) and it can be "hogged" for short periods.

    MSN originally though they could get by with 20,000 subscribers per satellite transponder ($2,000,000/year) but after beta testing they are going to have to back it down to below 7,000 subs (and IMHO below 2,500) to get acceptable performance.

    The real satellite broadband will NOT happen because of the economics mentioned above until Ka-Band satellites such as WildBlue or Cyberstar get launched beginning in late 2001. Then the bandwidth costs will drop by 4 or 5 times making it reasonable to offer a $20-$30 per month price.
  • by Sport ( 210661 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @11:26PM (#825324)
    Ever heard of INMARSAT? More commonly known as those SEAL magnaphones you see in some action flicks. I can get a solid 64kbps up and down with one, and the latest models are no bigger than a laptop computer (with a fold-out flat "dish"). Those are direct connections though. Most typical VSAT setups use a 1.8 meter dish and a ~3watt head for uplink with a GEO satellite, and I've run those up to 512kbps down and 128Kbps up. The problem with uplinking however is the MAC protocol. The VSATs I've used employ slotted ALOHA, which is like CMDSA/CD only without the carrier sense. Essentially, everyone transmit at random and hope there's no collision! Count me out!
  • new users is all the internet needs... ;)

    eudas
  • You still don't understand. I have cable at home and had ADSL. They both crawl as far as I'm concerned, as I'm used to a dedicated T1 at work on a very small number of machines (less than 100). This is a 64Megabps d/l. I'm lucky to get 64Kilobps on cable with the number of users on my block. The sheer amount of bandwith coupled with true wireless capabilities could be astounding if they ever implement it( yes, I'm only too aware of Iridium).

    The difference between Teledesic and other satellite providers it the capabilities of the network. That and launch cost will still be less than $3 billion (plus R$D, of course;). With the investors they have (including Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, Craig McCaw, and Bill Gates among others), cost of launch shouldn't be that much of an issue.

  • Wouldn't MSN's dish be more expensive, as it has to transmit to a satellite, as well as receive from one? I know handheld GPS units talk to satellites, but in the case of beaming LOTS of data, wouldn't it require somewhat more complex (and more expensive) technology?



    ----------
  • MSN is also a pretty simple dial-up PPP setup. hardly special stuff. using the sat would mostly likely involve special (read proprietary) hardware. MS is unlikely to port it to a non-windoze version, and it probably won't be easy to hack.
  • Does anyone have any solutions that would work in cars that is affordable

    No. Really, all this "mobile no wire" stuff is still in the early-adopter phase. If the rich and committed like it and pay for it, eventually the economics of scale kick in and the price comes down. If you want to lower the price then I suggest either:
    a) paying the high price now and contributing to entrenching this as a cheap technology for later on...
    b) hyping it until you're blue in the face to people who can afford it...

    My Dad's first calculator cost $500 and didn't do square roots. See the parallel? Sattelite connections don't do square roots either...

  • Ok so a company decides to offer access to people in any state and any major city in the union. That in and of itself it fine. Then they start to restrict the platform thata person can connect to for said access and all sorts of other anoying things. People think that linux is the only system that can subvert ads gimme a break. I dare to bet with a little sneaky programming on windows you can do the same thing. Also let me tell you one thing. I hate to be in one of the few states in the union that allows linux users to connect and actually do anything. Sure I would like to connect for pay. I just would like the max bandwidth that my 2400 baud modem can get and that's what I will pay for per month maybe like say 3-7 dollars to get the access and no frills like usenet and the like and I don't even need SMTP access or POP3/IMAP already got them covered. Basically I need 1. dynamic IP 2. reliable primary and secondary nameservers anything else is not needed I do think these companies can and do make fabulous access premiums for their access. Also I think that these so-called non profit organizations like universites and schools getting free T-3 or better connections is insane. I do expect to pay but at a fair price and if companies are going to offer a free deal to basically everyone then make it free to *everyone* and *anyone* and don't screw the little guy.
  • In the meantime sites like for example mine

    Wow! Your site is the most amazing example of net-hubris I have ever seen. It's like a 12 minute guitar solo...

  • If you take a look at Gilat-To-Home [gilat2home.com] you will see thay advertise it as an 'always-on-internet' connection so my guess is that means unlimited access.
  • as for weather problems, as far as i know DSS and other TV sattelite users have no issues when storms come in because the signals penetrate the clouds, etc. the latency must be an issue however because the signal will have to bounce off multiple sattelites in each direction in many cases in order to receive data. perhaps these services will be competitive with cable/dsl (i've heard predictions of sattelite connections capable of vastly greater speeds than cable/dsl on the order of 40-100mbps available to home users within a year or so) but i'm dubious. i'm also considerably biased against this technology because my high school has had a sattelite internet connection for nearly 4 years now and it is terrible. they just installed a brand new enormous sattelite and it sucks even worse than before! the problem is mostly the fact that it's a 56k uplink but i still can't trust this stuff yet. the computers hooked up to the sattelite are PCs running NT (which we've replaced with linux in many cases) but i've found myself being forced to use the dammed iMacs in the other lab because they're on a 6 megabit DSL line! ugh MSN is going to have to do a whole lot to convince me that this is good technology. and i'd never trust anything from AOL.
  • by rxmd ( 205533 ) on Sunday August 27, 2000 @12:05AM (#825337) Homepage

    I don't know what's going on in the powerline market over in the States, but here in Germany this has been in the media for quite some time (if you can read German, then check out this list of articles [heise.de] that were on the Heise news service over the last few months.

    Development in the field is rather active over here. You can buy home spin-off solutions that are based on powerline communication already. One application that is already being sold is a (phone line) modem whose serial port is replaced by a powerline adapter, and by hooking up your computer to a second adapter you're able to access your modem from anywhere within your local house circuit. I am not quite sure what implications this has on security, but I am fairly sure that some measures are being taken. This is not really high-speed, though, even though it seems fairly reliable.

    Powerline Internet access is a different matter, of course. In Cologne, they will be starting to sell powerline-based Internet and telephony by the beginning of 2001. A couple of field tests, also on a larger scale in a somewhat more public environment, have already been conducted.

    The speed that is being claimed varies. Preussen Elektra [preussenelektra.de] (recently merger'ed into e.on Energie [eon-energie.de]) claim that their particular system is capable of reaching 10 Mbps in-house and 2 Mbps for incoming/outgoing Internet access. Siemens [siemens.de] claim they reach 1.3 Mbps over public lines and plan to extend this to 10 Mbps. So as far as cable or DSL are concerned, this is quite a competition. :-) The central problem with powerline communications is that your average powerline is just a pair of wires arranged in an unpredictable network topology, and that the behaviour of the electrical properties of the system tends to be a bit difficult to handle because most electric devices emit quite a bit of noise. Take a look at the noise emissions from a 100 to 300 W dimmable ceiling lamp, for example, and then you'll immediately see why powerline network access took this long to develop. It appears that they got this quite under control, though.

    The final problems introducing this over here appear to be of a legal sort, because there are quite strict regulations in Germany as to which emissions are allowed in which part of the spectrum. With powerline communications, one has the problem of the non-shielded wires acting like a very large antenna, so they have to take care as to which frequencies they're using and how they're reducing emissions. The carriers needed for 1 to 10 Mbit are well in the amateur radio spectrum, for example. Nevertheless, powerline internet has good prospects for the future over here because it is by far the least expensive way by which to hook up people to the network (and since all major electricity corporations here also sell network services, they are quite interested in extending their customer base) - practically every house is connected to the powerline network already and has quite a bit of wiring installed as well.

  • I've got two questions that were left unanswered so far, so if anyone could help me out with these, I'd really appreciate it.

    • Since a satellite usually does not project directional signals for different customers, it would seem that the signal coming from the satellite contains all the downstream data for all customers within a certain geographic region. This leads to two subproblems:
      • Bandwidth might become a problem in more densely settled areas. You might argue that satellite is not for densely settled areas anyway, but the area covered by a satellite in geosynchronous orbit is rather large.
      • Security can not be guaranteed since anyone with slightly modified software can eavesdrop on every other connection through the same satellite. You might argue that it'd probably be encrypted, but still, I have a problem with the theoretical possibility of this happening. I'll be waiting for the first public decryption challenge: "Participate in our Satellite Decryption challenge! Clients for all major free operating systems included!!" ;-)
    • How does the satellite distinguish between different uplinks from different customers? They can't probably do that simply by discerning the direction vectors of the incoming signals because the resolution necessary to do that in geosynchronous orbit isn't even possible in military satellites, at least in the comparatively long wavelength regions used for data communications. The solution is probably that they assign time frames to the clients and each client gets to occupy time frames in order. That means that when a lot of clients are online, upstreams are likely to be rather chunky and unreliable. Is this the case or am I missing something?

    If there's anyone out there who knows a bit about how these technical details are tackled, I'd appreciate to hear about it... ;-)

  • Wow, that is a rip off. Thank you for sharing it with us. I can get IDSL (144kb/sec MAX), but it costs over 100 bucks a month and you have to sign a contract (usually a year or more). I am not that rich! If I was, I would get a T1. :(

  • check this out... I know it's not available in all of the US... but since it has been in AZ it has taken off like crazy... excellent package too: http://www.sprintbroadband.com adios -cipher
  • In regards to the bidirectional satellite Internet access...

    I would assume that the satellite is not "aiming" signals at each receiver, so does that mean it's like cable modems where everyone is sharing the bandwidth (at least for a particular channel)? Will everyone's dish receive the packets of everyone else on that channel? And (therefore), will it slow down the more users that are using it?

    If the answer to all that is "yes", I would be curious to know how much bandwidth each satellite channel has, how many channels, and how many satellites they actually have in orbit.

    As for uploads, if multiple people are sharing the same channel, can the satellite handle many signals coming in at once, or does it need some Ethernet-style collision detection? Is the signal actually digitally processed by the satellite, or is it just "bounced" through some sort of analog retransmitter?


    --

  • From the side of the MSN box:

    System Requirements
    - PC equipped with Pentium II or better running at 300 MhZ or better
    - 128MB of RAM or more
    - 300MB of free HD space
    - Windows2000 or WindowsME
    - Mouse

    No Linux, no BSD, no Solaris, no MacOS, no BeOS. Maybe they'll let you plug your XBox into it, but otherwise it's gonna be pretty restrictive.

    Not to mention what the user access agreement looks like. "In exchange for this service you agree that we may, at any time, make available, with or without notice, information which may or may not be personally identifiable as coming from you. Failure to agree to these terms will result in termination of service. Termination of service does not release liabilty to fufill your usage contract, which will, in the event of termination be due in full at time of termination..." And so on.

    Of course, this is just speculation, based on past behavior, and is as likely to be completely wrong as not. Just don't say I didn't tell you so. Me, I'm sticking with DSL, thanks.

  • I live in Tucson, AZ. We are the second city to be able to access Sprint Broadband Access: http://www.sprintbroadband.com . It is a 13.5 inch diamond shaped dish that you use line of sight with a reciever. We have a transceiver station on a mountain that uses RF to transmit to our homes. It is a guaranteed 1Mbit/s connection, with rates reaching as high as 5Mbit/s (or higher). It costs $40 per month.

    This is a friggin' amazing deal for the bandwidth we get, plus there is infinite expandability, since all they have to do is add another antenna if the demand gets too high. The upload rate is slightly lower (256K/s), but it is comparable to the Frame Relay we are using at work.

    One of my coworkers is getting in on this deal for many of the reasons shown here. He is sick of using his DirecPC connection with a dialup for upload. I would love to see this type of technology catch on, since it is infinitely cheaper than running coaxial cable through downtown streets. The only problem is that not every city has a mountain at the outskirts of the city.

  • I see a lot of posts complaining about satellite modems and poor pings times in Quake, and how its inferior to cable and DSL. These posters are missing the goal of satellite modems. The goal of them is not to compete with other broadband connections; rather, its to supply high speed net access to places that DSL and cable do not exist.

    Someone out in Podunk, Kansas will be thrilled to have a satellite connection after suffering thru sub-28.8 speeds for years. As for latency, yes its a factor. However, for your average home user playing games isn't a high priority. It'll be used mostly to surf the web and download files. Thus, it seems like latency isn't going to be that big of an issue to most people.

  • Any limitations in the AUP? Like how many MB, no servers, etc.?

  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @07:33PM (#825354)
    With all the posts about LEO (Low Earth Orbit) and GEO (Geosyncronous Earth Orbit) I took the liberty of diging up an old link you might find enlightning. Point your java enable web browser here [nasa.gov] and you'll see just how high up a GEO is, and thus how much latency such a system will have.
  • There are a lot of services where individuals are allowed to transmit without a specific licence: cell-phones, CB, family radio service, varios part 15 devices, etc.

    Generally, frequencies are allocated to various services. In many cases, some sort of a licence is required. This is often to prevent massive interfearence that occurs when anyone is allowed to transmit a signal which is likely to interfear with everyone else's signal. In other cases, licencing is either not required (i.e. Citizens Band) or is given to a specific company (i.e. Family Radio Service).

    Also, the signal these dishes use for uplink is not likely to create interfearance. The dishes are highly directional, and it is in the users best interest to point the dish at the sat, not at their neighbor's house. Additionally, because of line of sight, it takes relativly low power to transmit the signal to the satilite.

  • by ereuter ( 30764 ) on Sunday August 27, 2000 @03:19AM (#825370)
    I think the sequence goes something like this:

    1) Transit to satellite: 120ms
    2) Unknown delay: x
    3) Transit to groundstation: 120ms
    4) Some typical ping time on wired Internet (roundtrip from groundstation to ping site to groundstation): y
    5) Transit to satellite: 120ms
    6) Unknown delay: x
    7) Transit to home: 120ms

    Add it all up and we have 480ms + 2x + y. Seems to me that could easily be 900ms.
  • Any directional antenna (i.e. a "dish") can transmit and receive. You need a licence to transmit at a given wavelength range. Therefore in order to have an uplink you will need licence from FCC, unless rules are changed or you use a public wavelength. Also, it will not be that easy to listen to uplink info since your direcitonal antenna would have strong signal only in a narrow beam pointed at the satellite.
  • I recently played the the beta GTH system, and even with only a few beta testers on it, it doesn't work.

    I know about the whole speed of light thing(which is where most of the latency comes from), but sharing an uplink makes it worse. The problem is that although data is always streaming on the downlink side, people have to take turns transmitting. For example, when I was the only user with data to transmit, my ping times to the first router were ~700ms (pure speed-o-light), but when one person was ahead of me to transmit a packet, it quickly went to ~1500ms, then ~2400ms, etc. When someone is ahead of you to transmit you have to wait for them to stop transmitting data, for their transmitter to shut down, your transiever's rx-tx turnaround, your transmitter to come on, and then you can finally get your packet out. Imagine this whole sequence with ten people ahead of you(if the service became widespread, this could become very common)!

    The other problem is that people with defective transmitters(or malicous people who modified them), could easily jam the transponder being used for the uplink. If someone is transmitting continuously(knowingly or unknowing), A SINGLE USER COULD TAKE DOWN THE WHOLE SYSTEM! How's that for bad security!

  • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @05:54PM (#825388)
    "why can't the dishes and setup be free like they are with satellite TV promotions?"

    Because the hardware is more expensive, and targeting them is a pain in the ass. I used to work for DirecPC (The company that does this with AOL.) and their signal bandwidth is very tight, so a satellite must be pointed within several tenths of an inch, versus within half a foot or so for a TV dish. The TV signal is also much stronger, so the parts to pick it up cost less.

    On top of that, tech support calls for the PC stuff are more common, and expensive to deal with. The call centers have specially *cough*POORLY*cough* trained staff who are all in front of high end windows machines (To simulate the kind of machine that someone hard-core enough to want satellite net access would have.) running these satellite systems as well as good, I mean, land-based internet connections, and the costs for all of that get high pretty fast, as opposed to TV where most of the calls are just "Ok now push the select button on the remote. It's the one that says "select" on it.

    Anyway, these systems are pretty much guaranteed to suck, as they are all being run by companies that have done little more than muck up the net as it is.

  • by GW Hayduke ( 19878 ) on Sunday August 27, 2000 @03:52AM (#825393)
    Ok I hear a LOT of people talking about how they'd rather just get a t-1 run to their house (read pipedream)....
    Anyway... just incase you were really thinking about it.
    1st.... contact your regional Telco and check out the pricing to lease the line. Depending on your location to the POP of the ISP/Tier service provider you want, this will run about $1500/mo
    not to mention hefty install prices
    2nd... Contact an ISP/Tier Service provider to see what the cost of the Internet connection would be.
    (Better to go with a Tier1 provider like Sprintlink here... That way you KNOW your on a fat backbone rather than having your T run to an ISP that has 2000 dialups, a couple dds56K circuits and 3 more T-1's all going on a 3MB outbound pipe :)) So go figure about another $1650 a month

    3rd... don't forget the extra equipment, CSU/DSU (I recommend a good Kentrox), get yourself a decent router, Cisco 26xx would be good..
    4th... Get ready to dowload your pr0n!!!!!

    so all in all, figure into about 3K/month for your T-1 and about 10K in setup fees...
    This is one of the reasons why mid-high speed access is expensive, the ISP's must expand their network infrastructure so you don't have similar problems that the telco's have today, and bottleneck all their customers.
    (Most phone networks were created using the average call time of 5-10 minutes.... PRE-INTERNET days)
  • by Useless ( 11387 )
    "but why can't the dishes and setup be free like they are with satellite TV promotions? "

    Simple...Have you ever had to deal with an MSN/AOL user? They have to pay the install Techs "Danger Pay" to go in, and the possability of Millions in "Work Related Phyciatric Damage"
  • The satellite is a downlink. You have to place requests via landline with a standard analog modem (if you're using ISDN, xDSL, or Cable, you're already beyond the service level that this would provide...)- these requests would go to a central facility that would then pull it across the 'net and then beam them back down, not unlike the video feeds that you already get from the DBS satellite right now. This was something that missed it's time, I'd say. This would be useful if you already have a DBS system, didn't want to do much of anything but surf the net (it's not going to do much good for things like Quake gaming or IRC/ICQ/etc. chat.). If it's cheaper than xDSL or Cable (or you don't have either) then you might want to consider it. Otherwise, it's got no value proposition for anyone who they'd try to sell the service to.
  • here's an article on that technology... http://www.lantimes.com/97/97jul/707a020b.h tml [lantimes.com]
  • by murray_fox ( 220881 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @07:08PM (#825400) Homepage
    We have had this down here in New Zealand for ages - They call it Ihug ULTRA (http://www.ihug.co.nz/ultra/). No setup costs here!! And only NZ$59.95 (which is roughly USD$29.95 I beleive) a month, with no data limit (but a 300 hours limit before you pay 0.50c US an hour after that). It's pretty sweet. I've got a service guy coming in this week to install my dish (it's a 90cm dish, which feeds down from an orbiting satilite). I'm getting the 512kbps deal, but they reckon it can do up to 8mbps or something. It's only downstream through the Sat though - Upstream traffic through your modem or ISDN ect. Can't wait!! - Murray Fox
  • GPS units calculate your location based on the position of satellites. They don't ever send data to a satellite. Each satellite beams down its current location in the circle orbit, and the GPS unit calculates how far away each satellite is by analyzing the time difference between pulses.

    Get 3 signals and you're set. So don't worry, GPS isn't like big brother or anything. *You* are finding out where *you* are. You transmit nothing.

    As for MSN's thing, transmitting back is quite a feat. I also wonder how fast their uplink really is. Just look at Iridium and Globalstar. Iridium could transmit 2400bps (although they went out of business) and the newer Globalstar can transmit 9600bps. I don't think MSN's thing is going to upload fast at all.

    -Justin
  • by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Saturday August 26, 2000 @07:56PM (#825408)
    I signed up on Gilat's list several months ago to be a beta tester. I live in the proverbial sticks (to most people around here, "high speed access" means anything faster than 28.8kbps), and cable access or DSL are years away. I would love to have something faster than my current 56kbps.

    A couple of weeks or so ago I got the formal invitation in my email to get in to the program early as a beta tester. I turned it down for several reasons.

    First, as someone else has already mentioned, just to be a beta tester you had to fork up $499 (plus a hefty installation fee unless installed before Sept 15th). What the previous poster didn't mention was this was because you were buying a whole new friggin computer...you can't use any old machine you got laying around, you MUST by a new one from them, and use their OS (Windows) and hardware. Hence I can't use it with my notebook and I can't use it on my own Linux box without doing a network of my own (see the third point below).

    Second, in reading the fine print I discovered that they only guarentee access at 150kbps. After the beta period is over (January 1) I am not willing to pay $69.95 a month to have access that is only going to be 2 - 3 times faster than what I have now for $19.95.

    And third, and this was the biggie for me, VPN is forbidden. They consider this a "business" service, and if they make VPN allowable, it will be for "an additional fee". And while they don't explicitly say no networking or internet connection sharing, they don't support it and won't help make it work either.

    So my opinion after reading everything was that, at least for me, their service is not offering me anything that would make it worth $69.95 a month plus all the up front cash.
  • The MSN service will allow users to download and upload data via a satellite dish

    Unless, I'm mistaken, this dish that you put on your house must be very big and very powerfull to be able to send to a GEO sat.

    Has there been a quantum leap in technology?

    The only satellite uplink dishes I've seen have been 4 meters across, and have had little brick houses next to them.

  • I suppose this is slightly off-topic, but at the risk of losing karma, I'll respond to GW Hayduke's [slashdot.org] rant about how expensive [slashdot.org] T1 service is.

    I have a fractional T1 service... but "fractional" can mean a lot of different speeds, and in my case it's only 128 kbps. It is expensive to set up a T1 service, but at least in Portland Oregon, it's not quite as bad as you make it out to be.

    The most expensive part is the upstream service from an ISP. Most ISPs are quite expensive. I did quite a bit of searching in my area, and I found two with competitive prices. I went with Internet Arena [inetarena.com], because the other was some christian place with filtering at their router, and we've all heard about how well filtering software works [peacefire.com].

    Not far behind the ISP is the telco. In my area, it's GTE. A year ago their prices were lower... it seems strange that they're increased. Unlike the ISP, at least where I live, you're stuck with your local telco. The service is Frame Relay [gte.com]. In Oregon, and probably in many other places, there's no room for a bargain, since the rates are set by a utility commission.

    Of course, you then need equipment. I wanted a low cost Linux based solution. At the time, the only real option was Sangoma [sangoma.com]. They sell a card that goes in your PC that more or less does everything you need. The mounting bracket has one 8 pin jack (same size and shape as an 10baseT ethernet connector) but it's for a T1 line. Like ethernet, only four wires are used, a pair for transmit and a pair for receive. I'll give more details about the wiring below. You can always email me [mailto] if you're trying to set it up and have a question.

    Indeed it is expensive. I don't recall all the costs down to the penny, but here's more or less how it worked out:

    • Setup: Samgoma card, $950
    • Setup: Telco install fee, $350
    • Reoccur: Telco, $123
    • Reoccur: ISP, $150
    Now I'm sure your thinking, dear reader, that that's a rip-off for only 128 kbps service. Indeed it is expensive, and perhaps in a year or two when DSL is finally available in my area, I may switch. The one really cool thing about frame relay service is that the ping time is about 20 ms, and many installations (but not mine) seem to run at a 10 ms ping time. However, I don't play network games...

    Now I could go on about why I decided to spring for an expensive T1 service, but that's really getting off-topic from and already slightly off-topic post. The main point of this post was to respond with the actual costs of setting up a low speed fractional T1 service.... or at least the actual costs in my area, as they were about a year ago. A secondary purpose was to give a little bit of info about how to do it. To that end, I'll ramble on just a bit more about the setup.

    I called both the ISP and the telco and asked about how to set things up. My experience was that it's better and easier to deal with the ISP. Finding a cool ISP is not easy, but they're out there. Dave at Internet Arena is a great guy, so if you're in the Portland area, I'd suggest you give Dave a call. He's got a bunch of other really high speed/moderate cost options for certain areas, using leased T1 lines instead of the telco. Anyway, the point is to talk with ISPs and make a visit to any you want to do business with.

    Often times the ISP will call the telco for you to set up all the details, but you can get involved if you want. I did. Each T1 line has a circuit ID number. Your new service will get a number. When you hear your new number, be sure to write it down and don't lose it. You may never need it again, but it's a pain to find someone at the telco who knows enough to look it up if you ever have a problem with the line.

    Frame Relay is a protocol, much like the ethernet 802.3 frames. Like IPv4 gives 32 bit IP addresses, frame relay provides DLCI numbers. Unlike IP, a DLCI number is a short integer which is unique only on your line. The phone company establishes Permanent Virtual Connections (PVC) through the frame relay network, by adding routes and doing who knows what else. Ultimately, the PVC will link a DLCI number (short integer) on your your circuit ID (big long number) to a DLCI number on the ISP's circuit ID. You'll probably never use the circuit ID number, but you do need to know the DLCI number to set up the sangoma card.

    Since I bought my card, Sangoma has made some major improvements in the setup process (I set up another card for someone a couple months ago). The installer looks a lot like RedHat's text based installation program. It will ask you about for various bit of information, and it'll want to know about each DLCI you have. You'd probably only establish one PVC to your ISP, but it's possible to have lots of PVC to other people, all running on the same line. After the installation, each PVC will appear as an interface. I named mine "fr16", and it looks like this when I run ifconfig:

    fr16 Link encap:Frame Relay DLCI HWaddr 4096
    inet addr:207.149.244.8 P-t-P:207.149.244.1 Mask:255.255.255.224
    UP POINTOPOINT RUNNING MTU:1500 Metric:1
    RX packets:4889031 errors:0 dropped:12 overruns:0 frame:0
    TX packets:7655668 errors:136874 dropped:51 overruns:0 carrier:0
    collisions:0 txqueuelen:10
    Interrupt:7 Base address:0x360 Memory:c00de000-c00dffff

    From here it's just the usual linux routing things.

    Well, that's probably enough rambling on. If anyone reading this is looking to set up a T1 service on linux, on a budget, hopefully this has helped a bit instead of just creating more confusion. It's not cheap, but also not as bad as some people make it out to be.

  • 3: communication satalites are geostationary bu there very nature

    Not necessarily. Some Russian comm sats use highly elliptical orbits which spent most of their time over Russia and then quickly pass over the other side of Earth (their perigee is over the Antarctic, and apogee of orbit is over Russia). A common such orbit is called Molniya and has a period of 12 hours at high inclinations (often 63.4 degrees) with respect to the equator. These are good because there is better visibility of the satellite at high lattitudes.
  • You must have missed the part of the story [msnbc.com] where they mention it being bi-directional:
    "Microsoft will also include "two-way" dishes that allow downloads and uploads just as fast as cable modems or DSL".

"The chain which can be yanked is not the eternal chain." -- G. Fitch

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