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The Internet

Two-Way Satellite Internet Is Here! 165

spectro writes: "Wired is reporting the first two-way satellite Internet service has been launched by StarBand. The service promises speeds up to 500Kbps down and 150Kbps up, but a ping latency of about 400ms, so gamers are out of the question. Anyway a nice alternative for those of us who cannot get DSL yet, but watch out... The Evil Empire is part of the joint venture." It's nice to know that someone has finally made the leap, after years of promises and millions of R&D dollars. Check out the article for information on some of the competition, too.
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Two-way satellite internet is here!

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am a current beta tester on the starband system. I have only one thing to say about it. It frigging rocks, in three months of testing the network has only been down for about 5 minutes once for upgrade. It is rock solid and really offers up some pipe 100k download speed is the norm. All this and I got to tell Verison where to stick their extra phone line.
  • 500ms-1000ms ping times ain't so bad for web surfing which is mostly request and fetch networking. Now a telnet session would suffer noticable, but for the average surfer... no big deal.

    Besides, I can surf in the arctic!

  • Gilat and starband are the same.
  • Colony said Radio Shack is packaging the Starband service with new Compaq computers for $59.95, but does not offer upgrade products for PCs.

    I've never seen a store shoot itself in the foot more than Radio Shack. And actually, not to mention Compaq, which has seemingly turned itself into something just a bit better than Packard Bell (which as I recall was also sold by Radio Shack.)

  • Look for latency to be up around 500 ms, actually. We're talking about latency bad enough to notice even in web surfing, never mind telnet, ssh, or Quake sessions. Modem latency is only 150 ms, and I don't know any gamers that are happy with that.

    On the other hand, low-orbit satellite arrays are on the way (again), and they'll be able to offer latencies around 30 ms. Similar to ISDN, even if it doesn't touch DSL and cable (at about 3 ms).

  • Check this out [msn.com] After getting the the end of signing up for their "$300" satellite, the final cost is $1059.00. Sounds like they are going to be pulling the same stunt as Radio Shack for a bit.
  • Windows 9.X/ME/NT/2000 and this company is partnered with who? I would at least expect support for MACs. All well
  • mobile use = not possible.

    A dish based sattelite link must be properly aimed at all times, the US navy figured it out at the tune of $2M per dish (huge fast servos and gyroscopes) Until someone puts in place really low orbit sattelite networks that can handle gigabyte traffic, and not require directional antennas on the earth stations, it will never happen for anyone butthe richest of corperations (and then they won't do it, they just use sattelite phones instead... Like johhny driver needs to see a web page, he needs, " go to X,Y now.")

  • Except that things have to fling back and forth several times to get a TCP connection going.
  • Security concerns are completely bogus. Wired systems are vulnerable too. If you're doing stuff you don't want other people to see, encrypt it yourself. It's that simple.
  • You missed half the trip. You->satellite->internet is .236 seconds. But then internet->satellite->you is another .236 seconds, which sucks even worse.
  • You mean like credit card purchases? With personalized encryption? For now I think that this kind of thing just needs to stay off or wireless.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • I guess that I'm a fool, but I assume that a packet is pretty anonymous except really near one end or the other, which really limits the audience. I don't think that one can even assume that they take approximately the same path, much less that there are no intervening packets. Now it's true that there are tools that can peek, but this seems a lot less wide open than a broadcast over several square miles. True, even that would take a bunch of effort to decode (and as to how much, I really have no idea), but the comment said better than DES. That seems certainly needed.
    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • I've got a 3Mbps (same both ways) wireless connection to the Univerity her ein Bergen. We're using Breezecom's SA-10 boxes, which cost about $700 to buy, which suck. But then again 3Mbps and ping times from here to the University-campus of generally around 8-15ms is sweet. Double that ping to reach central servers in Norway.

    Methinks ground-based will always have the edge both when it comes to bandwith and to response. REsponse for the obvious reason that sattelite is slow for reasons of ligthspeed which are unlikely to change :) Bandwith because sattelites /are/ farther away, and because they've got a larger footprint on each transponder, so you've got more people to compete with.

  • It's evident that you haven't researched the Gilat system more in-depth than reading the Wired article. They have channels on several satellites purchased for use.
  • Not available in the Great White North. Bastards!
  • And another.... http://209.53.1.1 [209.53.1.1]
  • hold on there, chief.

    I don't think he said that Air Switch was sat-based... it looks to either be land line or LOS...

    ....
  • That happens to me quite often as well. But only in Netscape. IE and Mozilla don't suffer at all from this problem.
  • then how do you sleep at night?

  • I think they save some serious support costs
    by not offering it yet
    the support for this has to be a nightmare

  • The thing is, either something is encrypted strongly, or it's not really encrypted at all. Sure, you might discourage "casual in-listeners" from, say, reading your emails, by using weak encryption, but then who cares? That data can't have been that sensitive then. If somebody at my dial-up ISP decided they wanted to for some reason (e.g. the police decided they wanted to snoop my communications, or a competitor looking for trade secrets bribes one of their tech staff, whatever, there are probably 101 possibilities) they could quite easily build a log of every single packet sent and received by me, simple as that. Whatever reasons "they" might have, I'll have no way of knowing if it's just some "casual in-listener", or somebody who means business. If you have sensitive data, and/or you're serious about encryption, it's incredibly foolish to take a chance. If your data isn't that sensitive, why bother? I don't really believe in the concept of "inbetween" encryption. If it's, say, a very personal email to my girlfriend or something like that .. nothing I would *worry* about keeping from prying eyes, but also something I wouldn't want just anybody to read, then I can *still* just as easily use whatever weak encryption I might *usually* use to encrypt my emails. In which case it matters not a jot if you're xmitting via satellite, modem, cable, fiber, whatever. So I still don't see how this is an issue that relates to satellite. It's the same as any other internet communicates medium - choose your own encryption *at your computer*, anything else is a waste of time. Once a packet goes out of your computer, there are too many unknowns to guarantee anything.

  • "Plus there is the fact that anything beamed to you is probably also being beamed to everyone in a multiple state area around you. I sure hope they have some *strong* encryption built in. They ought to be doing something better than DES, no?"

    Whatever you transmit with weak/no encryption on the Internet is *anyway* completely insecure - Carnivore aside, your packets can be read by anybody on the route. If you assume that non-satellite internet is somehow any more secure than satellite internet then you're a fool. What it boils down to is that if you want to transmit something securely, strong-encrypt it, and there is nothing to stop you from doing this on your satellite connection. So your point is entirely a non-issue.

  • The majority of ISP customers believe that the internet consists of the web and email - truly a horribly watered down interpretation of what the Internet really is - or could be. Yet based on these public opinions, ISP's dilute their services with crap. If we allow popular perception to define what the internet of the future is going to be, then the internet of the future *will* only be web and email.

    The public should somehow be taught that the internet has the capacity to be really amazing and useful; if people understood the true potential of the internet, then maybe they would start demanding more from ISP's. I'd like to think so anyway .. *sigh* .. I'm afraid of a situation one where I try to connect to my Linux box at work from home with vnc and not getting through because my ISP has decided that the only remote-access capabilities I may use are a few Microsoft-approved bloated proprietary protocols, or something like that. Right now, the internet has the potential to be turned into a completely useless watered down advertising experience ..

  • Only big difference is Look is Microwave-based, which means you have to have a line of sight to the microwave tower. This limits it to a range on the order of 10's of kilometres, rather than most of a hemisphere covered by a satellite. Microwave towers must be installed in your town, which limits probability of rural users getting in any time soon.
  • (I don't even consider the 'buy a PC at Radio Shack' option worth discussing. Only a moron would buy a machine at Radio Shack)

    I'll wait for the Ethernet version, thank you. With a free-unix IPMasq setup it might be worth messing with..

    No mention of the price, of course. Why do companies never want to advertise their price?
  • The whole thing sounds pretty much like Iridium 2. This is useful for polar expeditions, mountain climbers and african not-for-profit organizations, groups that Iridium showed (in practice, since theory isnt enough for some...) cannot support the costs of running a massive sattelite network. For everyone else various DSL services will be cheaper and faster, and for the providers *far* easier to upgrade.

    Neither will it improve to anything useful for a huge segment of the population, since the latency is there and will remain there unless they figure out a way to speed up the speed of light.

    Shooting unsupportable junk into orbit isnt even cool as space science.
  • Most rural areas that have any population density will get DSL service within a few years. The rest simply wont be able to pay the actual cost of running a sattelite operation.

    Im sure it's practical for the small percentage living outside DSL-profitable zones, but it is a very small percentage. It isnt really a question of the usefulness (Iridium was sure useful for those who needed mobile phone coverage in unpopulated areas), but a question on wether it is possible to make it profitable. Will it be worth it when every town of 1000 people or more within a 3.5 km radius is DSL connected, and the rest have to pay for the sattelite upkeep?

    I seriously doubt it.
  • Er... 1) This has already been /.ed: here [slashdot.org] mentioning the MSN end of the partnership. 2) Starband is really just the new name of what used to be Gilat 2 Home and what currently is my major ISP...

    WorldMaker
  • umm like me.

    you want to talk about ridiculous downtimes? try a UK ISP.

    and as for articles stopping half way, I quite often get 800K of a /. article and then an empty page, on a 56.6 this is no joke, I mean separate the tables FGFS. (actually this might be what you were talking about, I've always been scared to discuss it in case it was some disgusting personal thing I'd picked up)

    FFFF

    I like timothy, he posts fun fun stuff :))

    /me happy happy one

  • I've worked on them now and again. Those fuckers are full of crap components that are hemmed in by sharp edges and held in with slide fittings that cause the drives to FLY out when they finally come lose. They usually draw some blood when I have to dive into one. I HATE Craperd Bells!!! I'm very delighted that these cheezebags went out of business. It means there won't be any new Craperds to slice me into ribbons. Be sure and wear gardeners gloves if you ever decide to work on one. I think they subcontracted their case manufacturing to Ginsu. Don't bother with the gloves. Just chuck the nasty things into a dumpster. If you find one in a dumpster....LEAVE it there.
  • Of course, if you live in the desert/bottom of the Grand Canyon, etc, there are no other choices. The Havasupai reservation has no landline links. The mail comes by mule train. But they do have net access via satellite!
  • Apparently you didn't read carefully enough either. Despite the competition with Teledesic, the fact remains that both Microsoft and Echostar have invested heavily in StarBand (formerly Gilat-To-Home) and the system uses MSN as the ISP.

    Bob
  • There should be a much less expensive USB version out by the end of the year. Still limits you to Windows, but it's not quite as bad. Minimum ping times should be just under 500ms, not 1000 (which still sucks). As for avoiding Radio Shack, well, it will also be available from Dish Network (Echostar is a major investor).

    Biggest reason not to go with Starband: The monthly cost is $69.95.

    Bob

  • I just got RR and am very happy with it
    BTW, if you want to check your Bandwidth, I find a nifty tester here- http://www.2wire.com/bandwidth/bmresult.asp?kbps=0 .0


    Another: http://www.dslreports.com/stest [dslreports.com]

    I got 1.3Mb/s from my cable modem. Woohoo!

    Chris
  • ports 20 and 21 to be exact.
  • Great news. I have RR right now and get about 3 right now. As soon as they get the 3Mbs going, I will buy.
  • Tachyon [tachyon.net] was actually first to deliver satellite based Internet connectivity. It was first proved in a non-profit project called Lincos [lincos.net], which has been operational for quite a while.


    Both Tachyon and Starband use "latency mitigators" (my phrase) to spoof TCP and cache web. The resulting response time is actually very good, in spite of over 500ms of round trip delay.

  • The service should shine for big downloads, but be rather poor for highly "chatty" stuff, with many request-response pairs. Loading web pages with many small objects would be rather disappointing, I should think. Checking POP3 email, if there are many small messages, would be pretty poor.

    You are absolutely correct. I know this from personal experience. See my other 2 posts under this article for some calculations and timings.

    -Todd

    ---
  • by DHR ( 68430 )
    they can't code (or test) site's broken in Netscape 4.76
  • While the article doesn't come out and say it, I'm guessing there will be serious total bandwidth limitations- since there are no tracking antennas, and since this is referred to as part of a satellite TV service, it must be from (and probably to) a satellite in geosync orbit. All traffic is probably going to just one satellite. Once a lot of people sign up for this- popularity will kill it- since I'm sure that they can sign people up to long term contracts faster than they can put more transponders up.

    You obviously don't know what you're talking about... The average transponder Bandwidth on the newer GEO satellites is 72 MHz, using 8PSK modulation with FEC 2/3 Viterbi or 216/205 Reed-Solomon encoding gives you roughly 90 Mbps to use... most High-Speed VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) systems allocate bandwidth in two chunks, one outbound carrier (From the hub) and several inbound carriers (From the station). Those are TDM/TDMA slotted carriers where you should contend for available slots (Slotted-ALOHA) which usually have an efficiency of 60-65%. If you split the transponder in two you have 45 Mbps downstream (Subject to a 85% efficiency limit)and several (Usually 2-4 Mbps) upstream carriers which serve a group of VSAT's.

    Since you're using a multiple allocation mechanism you can effectively guarantee at least some upstream traffic per station using streams (Pre-assigned slots). Have too many users in your service, get another transponder, it's not expensive to implement since these kinds of systems have independent modems.

    Plus there is the fact that anything beamed to you is probably also being beamed to everyone in a multiple state area around you. I sure hope they have some *strong* encryption built in. They ought to be doing something better than DES, no?

    Oh brother... can you tell me how are you going to demodulate the signal you receive from the satellite? (QPSK and 8PSK are not easy to implement with a breadboard you know?, not taking into account the fact that you'll need to build a fairly big decoder for viterbi or Reed-Solomon plus the encryption on the timeslots). You will receive what's intended for you and only you... you will be expecting some downstream timeslots and your IDU (Indoor Unit) will only decode those.

    I hate to say it, but the microsoft backed Teledesic system is a much better system (many satellites in low earth orbit- kinda like a cellular system) the satellites are closer and cover smaller areas, so the amount of bandwidth/satellite is much smaller.

    Of course you don't mention that these satellites are smaller, have less transponders, drift like mad and have poor signal footprints (The amount of power you receive down in earth). Cellular systems only work for small amounts of data (Look at how painful it has been to get GPRS working, not to mention 3G). Of course, fixed cell systems like LMDS do provide better bandwidth but they use modified versions of ATM, Frame Relay or PPP in order to dynamically allocate bandwidth and those aren't good when you have 500 users downloading pr0n at the same time.

    If you need more proof that these kinds of systems work (Only for mail and browsing, trust me) look for DVB (Digital Video Broadcast) services, or check out systems from Hughes Network Systems or STMI.

    ZoeSch
  • Bingo. Unlike ground based systems where you can lay in more fiber or set up more towers to build a bigger pipe, satellites are stuck with the bandwidth originally installed. At least as far as hardware goes.

    While they can probably restrict the footprint to a metro-area size, there is also the point of everyone listening to the signal. The same issue you have with virtually any wireless system really. That 56-bit encryption is ok, but not strong enough for serious security.

    As others have pointed out, this will be a great option for rural areas that wouldn't be able to get broadband any other way. I wish 'em luck, but I'll stick with a wired system or a 2Ghz band wireless solution.

  • Don't tell anyone, but the high speed datalink is an RS232 serial port in a 15 Pin Dsub connector. That's how Tivo controls your DSS receiver.
  • I know dish network offers a GPS tracking mounts used on RVs for it's tv service. quite expensive i might add. i wouldn't recommend driving with your dish up though :P
  • It is only a 24"x36" dish.
  • If you've ever lived outside of a city you'll grasp the usefulness of high-speed Internet access being available in rural areas or townships regardless of the medium. My father lives on an acreage out side of the city and is always complaining about the terrible speed he gets with e-mail, never mind web browsing. He uses the Internet to keep in touch with a company he owns and track his various investments and is lucky if his modem connects at 28K!

    I also know quite a few techies that have put off moving outside the city due to lack of broadband ISP options. This changes everything.
  • yes, you can keep your cable modem, but for some of us, DSL and cable modems arent' an option
  • My company has both satellite and terrestrial circuits to India. Our satellite circuit has a round trip delay of about 660 ms on a good day, the terrestrial is 249 ms, still higher than it should be. There's something magical about getting it down below 200 ms, and that's the ability to provide toll quality voice service over the connection without inducing so much delay as to create a half duplex conversation. Might they want to provide some sort of voice service over this at some point they will need to bring delay down.

    This is why I'm waiting for Teledesic using LEO satellites.
  • Well, it's rough, but I can swollow a little bit of pride for the bonus $$$ I get for selling MSN.
    Besides, it's not that bad I get to play with toys alot...
  • I work at RadioShack, and we've actually been offering this quite a bit for the people that couldn't get DSL access. We arn't selling it individually yet. It's only with the purchase of a new Compaq. MS plans on selling access on it's own later, but till then, I'll settle for dialup.
    BTW, just cause I sell it doesn't mean I like it...
  • Actually, it can be quite useful. Remember, not everyone has high bandwidth availability, and that latency does not adversely affect the total speed of transmission if some special techniques are used to tweak TCP parameters.

    I should know, I've been working for a company that has provided two-way satellite internet since 1995. Several hundred sites, and a few thousand more in the works . . . So it's a misnomer that it's finally "here". But it's just now becoming consumer-targeted rather than company-targeted.

    There are software packages that can be used to significantly improve response even with such a large latency. Mentat makes such a package. You can't overcome the latency but you can use a proxy that converts TCP to a protocol better suited to high latencies.

    About the only thing "out of the question" on such a link is gaming. Other things might be slower but still possible. Webhosting would be a bad idea since you can be sure those figures are _shared_ among many clients, but you could use such a link to connect to a reverse proxy on a faster network.

  • Right, SpeedChoice did offer two-way wave microwave service in Phoenix, but only if you had Line Of Site to their tower in the foothills. I hadn't heard of uplink problems with the 2 way service though... I moved away right as they were deploying this in my area, becoming the only broadband service available to my apartment complex. Of course, I moved to Seattle, and still have no broadband access. >:/

    They offered something on the order of 6mbps links too, pretty fast stuff. Maybe now that Sprint bought them, they'll deploy this in other large metro areas?
  • then how do you sleep at night?

    in his warm comfy bed in his appartment paid for by his job at radioshack with his girlfriend (or gay lover) who only loves him for the fabulous lifestyle that his radio shack sallary affords him.

  • Any info on pricing?
  • While this may be fine for rural net solutions, what I really want to know is whether the dish needs to be stationary.

    If it can be used mobile, the dream of checking out and living off the net becomes true. Imagine telecommuting from the Carribean or running a content site from a homestead in Alaska. This is very empowing stuff.
  • Shrug, my @home cable modem HAS encryption, albeit 40bit low security. I think most cable modems have encryption built into the hardware.
  • > I hate to say it, but the microsoft backed Teledesic system is a much better system (many satellites in low earth orbit- kinda
    > like a cellular system) the satellites are closer and cover smaller areas, so the amount of bandwidth/satellite is much smaller.

    Teledesic says in their FAQ [teledesic.com] that "Mr. Gates's investment is a personal one not associated with Microsoft."

    -b
  • http://www.starband.com/images/gl_fa ces .jpg [starband.com]
    tell me those faces don't say (in order - from left to right) "what the fuck", "does this mean my napster will be faster" and "what?"

    -neil

    "Now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb."
  • Van Jacobson's sliding window algorithm helps here. The sender can transmit multiple packets before receiving the ACK. See RFC 2581 for details on how this is implemented in TCP.
  • Yeah, not to mention telnet. Half a second between the time I type a key and when it appears on my screen just isn't going to cut it.
  • Check this out

    http://www.astrolink.com/welcome.html

    Think they are too late? Launching in 2003 they'll have to fight for market share (if terestrial networks don't dominate)
  • Now a handicap of 236ms before you get on the net leaves a little to be desired.

    I have an idea. Just put the Quake server on the satellite! That way everyone will have a handicap of 236ms....
    ---

  • It wouldn't be _true_ mobile Internet, of course, but if I mounted the dish on a positioner on the roof of my SUV, and ruggedized the installation of the transceiver and Ethernet hub, I could at least use the bandwidth while I'm parked in a field ..

    And, of course, connect an 802.11 base station so I could sit outside with the laptop and surf from there .. this has possibilities, even if I am sharing the pipe with about a million other users. Have to think *seriously* about that. ;-)

  • The service should shine for big downloads, but be rather poor for highly "chatty" stuff, with many request-response pairs. Loading web pages with many small objects would be rather disappointing, I should think. Checking POP3 email, if there are many small messages, would be pretty poor.
    Depends on what you mean by poor .. if you're in the middle of a National Park and the link means the difference between getting email and not getting email, I'd say I could put up with the latency. Even at this rate, it's way faster than Winmail on HF at 300 bps ..

  • If you're out in nowheresville where no other high speed options are available, this is great. If it's this or dialup, I'll put up with a little latency. And on most things, including IRC, you probably won't notice a half-second lag.
  • 400ms isn't enough for gaming, what would it be like to telnet over a satellite connection?
  • Radio Shack... R-A-D-I-O Shack...
    Would you really buy your computer at Radio Shack even if they had what you wanted?
  • with that high of a latency? I'd rather have ISDN, i mean, web pages are so small, you'll click on a link, and have to wait quite a bit, sure its instantaneous when it DOES come up, but still, the "lag" will make surfing no fun at all, and running a web, ftp, blah server is also out of the question, as is using it to make phone calls, video conference, almost all the 'neat' broadband applications will be neutered by the latency. Heck, even IRC will suck with that ping......

  • Speedchoice had 2-way Satelite ISP access deployed a year and a half ago in Phoenix.
    There were two options; you could have a satelite downlink and a phone uplink or satelite both way.
    The uplink via satelite was a bit choppy, but when it connected it was very fast. I believe it was a 10mbs channel each way.
    Alas, Speedchoice was purchased by Sprint, which has truly ridiculous terms of service, and discontinued the satelite in favor of their microwave crap.
    I have a few clients who still are using the Speedchoice equipment - Sprint didn't turn them off - but I don't think Sprint is selling new orders for satelite.
  • Compaq's suck large hairy donkey balls. My company uses them exclusively, and they are unstable, over priced, and are full of annoying features (BIOS saved on HD, on/off switch doesn't work like an on/off switch, weird physical layout inside the case, older MMX machines would spontaniously choke on PNP network cards after working for months previously, I could go on...) Besides, if I wanted an unreliable but somewhat fast internet connection, I would stay with Rogers@home, they fit *that* bill perfectly.
  • Use a proxy server!

    IT makes all those dinky little connections; the browser makes JUST ONE connection to the proxy server.

    Certainly, it wouldn't be hard to do this. (Squid, anyone?)

    It may be that my understanding is a bit off, but I don't think so.

    -Ben
  • I've seen that Sprint broadband also is 2-way. They provide the equipment, tout 512k - 1.5mb down and 256k up, although from their website can't tell if that is line based upload.
  • Distance is what causes the delay - someone already did the calculations, and the signals take roughly a quarter of a second to travel between the satellite and Earth twice, even at lightspeed (72000 km roundtrip @ 300000 km/s takes approx. 250 ms).

    They should definately be able to work more on the remaining 150 ms, but it's probably a case for the law of diminishing returns - it's too expensive and not worthwhile to get rid of some of the 150 ms, when the lightspeed-induced 250 ms is like a constant of nature. I mean, does 325 ms sell all that much better than 400 ms, if it increases the price of the service?

  • The article says this is a company competing with a Bill Gates-funded satellite broadband company, among others. Nowhere is there any mention of it being Gates-funded, much less Microsoft-owned!

    - A.P.

    --
    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • Pro: Loads of bandwidth, great mobility.
    Con: High latency, unnecessarily tied to Windows, unnecessarily tied to Radio Shack, unnecessarily tied to Dish Network.

    I'll pass.

    At least WildBlue, at least thus far in its development, is slated to support all major platforms (including MacOS and Linux) and isn't tied to a particular retail chain or satellite TV network. Latency is still a problem, but it's about the only one left.

    But all the same, I'd rather have a cable modem or DSL. Too bad neither one is in my area yet (unless you count IDSL, which I don't). Guess I'll have to wait...
    ----------
  • On a high latency network, services such as fpt and http would work amazingly. You'd be suprized by the number of countries serving their web sites via satellites. eg Dhivehinet in Maldives [dhivehinet.net.mv] and so on. It's true, this would suck for quake and other online games. But a 400 ms is good enough even for telnetting. I've admined boxes hosted on satellite feeds for months (two way). True the latency shows, but it's not that big a deal.

    Even with broadband applications (phone stuff). You only notice a slight gap in transmission (it's like those old cnn show's where the guy on the field hears the anchor a full second after he stops speaking).

    Enjoy.
    --
  • Or maybe I'm not a karma whore.
  • by austad ( 22163 )
    Dish Network was at the technology building at the minnesota state fair pimpin' this thing. They let me play with it. It totally sucked.

    I was lucky if I got downloads much faster than a 33.6 modem, and the latency to the first hop was around 800ms. Total piece of crap when I tested it. Maybe they had it aimed wrong or something. The guy told me the satellite is at an altitude of 20,000 miles in a geosyncronous orbit. I guess that would explain the latency.

    If they improved the speed on it from when I tested it, it might be worth it if you're in total BFE.
  • Yeah, i work at rat shack, we have the demo service available here, and well, when it gets going the downloads are awesome, but frequent downtime, too much latency, and the rediculous start off costs make me hate it. i mean, come on, who is going to buy a computer (a compaq, to top it all off) just to get two way satellite? ive noticed that the transfer cuts off in the middle way too often (like, when i read this article, the html stopped right in the middle of the comment.

  • My manager has their service very fast about 2 to 3 meg and very low pings. Stuff like this is the future.

    You didn't give any numbers for what you claim are "very low pings," but there's a pretty darn hard-to-avoid minimum ping.

    Your signal's gotta go up to a satellite and back down to a receiving dish. It gets routed and handled, then your reply goes up to the satellite and back down to your own dish.

    So, four times the bird's altitude, times the speed of light, gives you what MINIMUM ping delay? I don't have the numbers, but I expect someone here does.

  • (AirSwitch, the service the poster was hawking, seems to be a ground-based solution, not a satellite solution.) I fell asleep before their no-fast-forward "presentation" got to the point they explained it.

    I'd still be interested in seeing the numbers involved for either or both of these. Tens or hundreds of milliseconds?

  • How many acres of land do i need to fit the dish? And will i become a military target if i install it?
  • Nice to hear there are more options for rural folk. Look [www.look.ca] already has two-way internet, with speeds comparable to DSL atleast up here in Canada so they may be the first satellite service with two-way internet but they aren't the first wireless one, I don't know if a similar service is avaliable anywhere else.

    Now if I could only get this working in my car!
  • And of course no, 0, that would be zip support for anything but Winders. Um, This sucks now for something that will be really cool once they get out to the rest of the world check out Air Switch [airswitch.com] . My manager has their service very fast about 2 to 3 meg and very low pings. Stuff like this is the future.
  • This summer I had the bad luck of working tech support for DirecPC -- a Satellite ISP service. Their 2way sat service has been up and working for some time and they have been beta testing it for about 3 months. See DirecPC Homepage [direcpc.com] For more info.

    What I can tell you is that while DirecPC has been talking about this for QUITE some time, GILAT HAS been delivering this 2 way for some time now.

    If you are bored and like to hear DPC people rant try alt.satellite.direcpc.
  • Mobility's great... But not matter where you go, there you are paying Microsoft.

    In Cincinnati, Main Street Ventures [digitalrhine.com] just opened their doors for business under great fanfare. Their goal is to be part of an inner city renovation where the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is seeing many of its historically significant buildings reworked into trendy yuppie lofts.

    At the opening, they had a ceremonial golden plug to be pulled apart when Main Street's new wireless service made the area officially "unplugged." This tented event for a few hundred spectators and camera crews took place in The Salvation Army's 12th street parking lot, with representative from Lucent and Microsoft, and Ohio's Governer Bob Taft.

    They sure know how to inspire my distrust. ;-)

  • I think I agree. My internet company, InternetCDS gives you the choice of DSL or wireless, if you can't get DSL, you get wireless. They also promise 256kb both ways, however 90% of the time (and I kid you not..) it's under 100ms but gets to my IP and hits 1000ms. Not only that, if you get two way wireless, for the love of god CHECK AND SEE HOW YOUR ISP UTILIZES THEIR LINKS. Do they have time share? Do they put 50 people on a satalitte that's only designed for 20 users? Can one user take all the bandwidth? Please please, ask these questions and double check BEFORE YOU GET INTO THIS KIND OF THING. However, if it's all setup PROPERLY, it's quite a nice solution.. :\

  • I've got a good friend who can't wait to get this. I just emailed him the ./ link but inserted that cable and dsl give better bandwidth with lower latency. Sucker.

    I'm gonna avoid like the plague, this kind of service(?) which is closely related to Microshaft, Compaq, and RadioShack. The first two will never get anymore of my money. RadioShack is a good friend of mine.

    I don't want an internet service which is subject to the weatherman's cloudcover prediction, or solarflares. My cable company has worked hard enough to keep their service up when the wind blows.

    So, given that we'll be on a phased array, geosynchronous satellite network (this really sounds cool), the communication is lagged by the high latency. Wasn't broadband created so we can have fast transfers without the high latency? Surely they can do better than 500/150 kbps. I get 1500/300 kpbs with my cable service which is 3x/2x as fast with probably less cost and one tenth the latency.

    I'm gonna skip this thing. I can already see it coming down with Iridium. Or M$ will sell it off to keep their financials in the black.

  • Where do you work. I know Best Buy and Radio Shack have been offering DirecPC for a while now. Circuit City used to offer it. I do tech support for an electronics store and from my experience, the "Windows 98 only and factory installed USB" really means that it's not guaranteed to work outside of those specs, but probably will. Win 95 OSR2, Win2K, and WinME all support USB. I've got an ASUS motherboard with an add-on USB card and I've never had any trouble.

    I also live in an area where neither cable or DSL is available, so I'm considering getting a setup similar to this despite the high latency and slow upstream connection.

  • Or imagine you're the driver of a van delivering groceries and blankets to the homeless. Do you know how many lives are lost every year owing to exposure, simply because of miscommunication between relief agencies and dispatchers? A continuous link with home would solve that dilemma while providing incidental benefits like letting the homeless check their email or search for jobs on the internet.
    What is this ridiculous shit? This is what radios and cell phones are for, and they work just fine. Homeless people are not dying because the relief van was barricaded off by a snow bank and didn't have the wireless internet to hit MapQues [mapquest.com]t [goatse.cx] and find an alternate route. Also, if you're homeless, you're probably not qualified for a job you'd find on monster. [monster.com]com [goatse.cx], and if you were, 50,000 other shitheads who have a home and clean clothes are going to beat you to the interview.

    However, I think you, Anne Marie have a career writing commercials for wireless web providers. This sounds like exactly the kind of saccharine bullshit they'd use to sell their product.

    Radio will get you somewhere, but cbs are subject to a lot of abuse. Recently in NY, disgruntled ambulance drivers were (illegally) jamming the airwaves by blowing on the receiver each time a dispatch went out to a non-union ambulance. Thankfully, no one was (apparently) killed by the practice, but just the same, it's a scary prospect, and it'd be a lot harder to jam a satellite feed.
    Bullshit. Use a cellphone, everyone else does. Not to mention the difficulty, nay, near impossibility of bouncing a signal off a geosynch satellite from a moving vehicle.
    The sooner we realize real lives are at stake, the sooner we'll embrace this technology, for the greater good of humanity.
    Nope, this is just another hi-tech toy for the middle and upper classes only. The rest of you poor unwashed can have it in 15 years when it's broken, or when we technofetishists find something far better to waste disposable income on.
  • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Monday November 06, 2000 @04:36PM (#644793)
    The numbers are very easy to calculate. 22,000 miles, times 4, divided by 186,000 miles per second; that is 473 mS just for time of flight.

    The service should shine for big downloads, but be rather poor for highly "chatty" stuff, with many request-response pairs. Loading web pages with many small objects would be rather disappointing, I should think. Checking POP3 email, if there are many small messages, would be pretty poor.
  • by signe ( 64498 ) on Monday November 06, 2000 @04:37PM (#644794) Homepage
    It's just that it's not that commonly used. I installed a bidirectional, mobile satellite internet link 2 years ago, with T-1 speeds. Granted, not the cheapest thing to do, but it was still there. And it sucked, at least for web surfing, which was why we installed it. Unfortunately, we didn't have much of a choice since we needed a mobile solution, and Ricochet wasn't up to speed yet.

    Typically, satellite data streams have about a half second latency. That means you send out a ping to your next hop, and it's at least 500ms before you get the response. Now when you're doing a stream of data in, this isn't so bad. You have a half second latency when you're setting up the connection, but then you have a nice even data delivery. However, for things like web surfing where you're setting up lots of connections (up to 30 or 40 per page sometimes), it's unbearable.

    Satellite internet connections are useful if you're in a remote area and can't get anything else. But if you have anything else, even IDSL, you're going to find it a better choice for things like web surfing and gaming.

    -Todd

    ---
  • by signe ( 64498 ) on Monday November 06, 2000 @05:55PM (#644795) Homepage
    It probably isn't as bad as you suggest. You shouldn't be seeing 30 to 40 connections to pages with modern (or at least future) browsers and servers. After getting the HTML, the popular browsers usually open up 4 to 7 concurrent connections which incur the round trip times in parallel and then reuse them for subsequent requests when possible.

    I'm sorry, perhaps I wasn't clear when I said that I installed and used this setup. The particular site we were using was washingtonpost.com, which at the time averaged 50 objects per page. It wasn't the worst site out there (ICQ was much worse), but it definitely wasn't the smallest pagesize.

    Even if you have 4 simultaneous connections and reuse them, you're still incurring large delays. To set up the TCP connection, you need a three way handshake. That is a minimum of 1.25 seconds (given .5 seconds for a round trip). Then, best case scenario, you send a request and get a response for another 1 second of latency, plus any latency present between the satellite headend and the website. Let's assume 40 objects on the page. So each connection has to get 10 objects in parallel with the other connections. So that's 1.25 seconds to set up the connection, and 1 second per image. That's 11.25 seconds of latency per page added by the satellite connection. Theoretically, if you send all the requests at the beginning of the connection, you can reduce that latency. However you still have a minimum added latency of 2.25 seconds, and it's questionable whether or not you can do that with current browsers (I personally don't know).

    In contrast, if you open up a dialup connection to an ISP without caching or compression and pull washingtonpost.com's front page, it will take about 11 seconds to download and render the page. That number is based on a series of tests that I performed personally, using several different computers to make sure the number was accurate.

    Also, if you're wondering where I got a half second for a round trip from, it's fairly simple. The satellite is located 22,500 miles above the equator. Given a best-case scenario with both you and the satellite headend on the equator, that's a one way trip from you to the headend of 45k miles, and a RT of 90k miles. The speed of light is 186,300 miles per second. So that gives a best-case latency of about a half a second.

    -Todd

    ---
  • by yetisalmon ( 70744 ) on Monday November 06, 2000 @03:37PM (#644796) Homepage Journal
    Why not just use AOL?! 2k up and down is all anyone really needs. 2000 bytes is alot.
  • by Anne Marie ( 239347 ) on Monday November 06, 2000 @04:12PM (#644797)
    This is very empowing stuff.

    And that's not the half of it. Imagine you're a foreign newscaster stationed in the backroads of Afghanastan or Somalia. Do you know how much your life is put in danger every time you try to "link up" and communicate with the agencies back at home? Most often, the telephone infrastructure is nonexistant, and the rest of the time, it's bugged.

    Or imagine you're the driver of a van delivering groceries and blankets to the homeless. Do you know how many lives are lost every year owing to exposure, simply because of miscommunication between relief agencies and dispatchers? A continuous link with home would solve that dilemma while providing incidental benefits like letting the homeless check their email or search for jobs on the internet.

    Radio will get you somewhere, but cbs are subject to a lot of abuse. Recently in NY, disgruntled ambulance drivers were (illegally) jamming the airwaves by blowing on the receiver each time a dispatch went out to a non-union ambulance. Thankfully, no one was (apparently) killed by the practice, but just the same, it's a scary prospect, and it'd be a lot harder to jam a satellite feed.

    The sooner we realize real lives are at stake, the sooner we'll embrace this technology, for the greater good of humanity.
  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Monday November 06, 2000 @04:46PM (#644798)
    From the article:
    The DirecPC system uses 56-bit encryption on the packets of data that are sent downstream from the satellite, according to Steven Salamoff, assistant vice president of the DirecPC business services division. Deciphering upstream packets would first require breaking the downstream encryption because of its random packet generation, Salamoff said.
    Consumer awareness of home computer security is growing. And it looks like the DirecPC salesforce is chomping at the bit to try out their service's embeded buzzword: encryption. Yep. They're safer than that Cable and ADSL you hear about. Unlike those guys, satalite providers encrypt their data.

    Sure, wireless brings forth a whole new series of security concerns. And that means encryption has its part. But it does nothing to address insecure hosts on persistant broadband connections.

    What do you want to bet that the new satalite service providers will do the same as their xDSL and cable competitors and ignore this problem. But hey... they have encryption.

  • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) on Monday November 06, 2000 @04:56PM (#644799) Homepage Journal
    In late 1991, as vice president for public affairs at E'Prime Aerospace I did a lot of the work to break up the log-jam within the FCC on the first Ka-band satellite license ever to be issued. It was for a two-way geostationary broadband system called "Norstar" that was based on Milstar satellite technology. The way these geostationary systems work is to use a phased array antanna on the satellite to rapidly multiplex a tight spot beam between ground stations and dynamically shift the time slices to various geographies based on load requirements.

    The higher the frequency allocated for the service, the tighter the spot beams with a given dish diameter, which means you can end up with the geographic equivalent of a dynamically distributed cellular communication system deployed via a single satellite with the main drawback being that you are sharing a single point of failure as well as a bandwidth bottleneck. However, at these high frequencies satellites can be parked much closer to each other in the same orbital so the bottleneck and failure vulnerability can be minimized by requiring a bit more complicated ground station to allow a fixed dish to rapidly switch between co-located satellites.

    The rain problem is serious, but can be minimized, at least on the downward leg, by increasing the energy storage capacity of the satellite to power through the weather. IIRC the upward leg has a bit more of a problem with heavy weather because, although power is quite available on the ground, the scattering occurs far from the satellite (clouds are only a few miles in altitude whereas the satellites are about 20 thousand miles away). On the upward leg it is a bit more problematic due to the fact that arc very tightly which further increases the density of communication via demultiplexed (parallel) communication channels.

    The delay time introduced by going up and back is less than typical human reaction time (about a quarter second) so its just fine for most practical uses -- even interactive ones other than games where people are pushing human reaction times to the sub 100ms ranges.

    Starband is probably in these high frequency ranges since they do have a bit of difficulty with heavy weather, although I haven't been able to locate their FCC filing online to see exactly how high the frequency actually is.

  • by Matt_Bennett ( 79107 ) on Monday November 06, 2000 @03:58PM (#644800) Homepage Journal
    While the article doesn't come out and say it, I'm guessing there will be serious total bandwidth limitations- since there are no tracking antennas, and since this is referred to as part of a satellite TV service, it must be from (and probably to) a satellite in geosync orbit. All traffic is probably going to just one satellite. Once a lot of people sign up for this- popularity will kill it- since I'm sure that they can sign people up to long term contracts faster than they can put more transponders up.

    Plus there is the fact that anything beamed to you is probably also being beamed to everyone in a multiple state area around you. I sure hope they have some *strong* encryption built in. They ought to be doing something better than DES, no?

    I hate to say it, but the microsoft backed Teledesic system is a much better system (many satellites in low earth orbit- kinda like a cellular system) the satellites are closer and cover smaller areas, so the amount of bandwidth/satellite is much smaller.
  • Hardly anyone wants to sell you a simple net connection anymore. What's with all the useless addons? ISPs are always trying to be their own portal when they can't top Yahoo. Best Buy tries to get you on MSN when you buy a refrigerator.

    Now to get satellite net access you have to buy a whole new PC, and it's still $60 a month?

    Dammit, give me some hardware and tell me what I should set the IP and DNS to, and charge me less!
  • by state*less ( 246807 ) on Monday November 06, 2000 @04:42PM (#644802)
    but a ping latency of about 400ms so gamers are out of the question.

    I rember when i thought light (186,000 miles/second) was fast haha. Now 400ms a second isn't round trip time for light from nowheresville -> Satellite -> Backbone router but the handicap makes up for a damn sizeable chunk

    Let's investigate.

    For example, if the mission requires a geostationary orbit, which can be achieved only at a distance of about 35,000 km (22,000 mi) above Earth.

    I got this from MSN Encarta. MSN... like their operating systems, probably can't be trusted :).
    Lets do some calculations(my favorite). For light to get to the satellite it takes .118 (approx) seconds now multiply by 2, we have to go both ways. we have .236 seconds (approx).
    Now a handicap of 236ms before you get on the net leaves a little to be desired. Like, Damn I wish light were faster.

    Time is Change

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