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Satellite Internet instead of traditional Internet: opportunities and limitations of use

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Satellite Internet instead of traditional Internet: opportunities and limitations of use

Satellite Internet instead of traditional Internet: opportunities and limitations of use

28.11.2023

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A fixed Internet connection, provided it is stable, can provide access to the World Wide Web at home, in the office, in public institutions almost all over the planet. But when it comes to remote corners of the Earth, satellite Internet technology comes in handy. How it works, what features it has and for whom it is promising, read in our prepared material.

Principle of operation and types of satellite Internet

Satellite Internet is one of the ways of wireless access to the international computer network. The process of data exchange through it consists of these steps:

  1. The user's device sends a request for data to a satellite antenna installed at the user's place.
  2. The antenna transmits the request to the satellite that rotates above, and the latter sends the request to a ground station connected to the Internet.
  3. After receiving the request, the station gets the desired information from the Internet and sends it back to the satellite.
  4. The satellite sends the data back to the satellite dish, which sends it to the user's device.

There are two types of satellite Internet:

  • Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO).

    It is a traditional satellite Internet technology that has a long history. When it is used, the geostationary satellite remains in a fixed position relative to the Earth's surface, allowing for continuous coverage of a large area. GEO Internet provides high bandwidth and is suitable for a wide range of tasks (downloading large files, watching streaming video, online gaming). But the data exchange is high latency, due to which delays in Internet communication (especially in applications that work in real time) are possible.

  • Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

    This new technology was developed to solve the problem of the above-mentioned delay. To reduce it, a large number of satellites are placed much closer to the Earth (at an altitude of 1,200 kilometres or less) so that a faster connection can be established between the client and the satellite. Also, LEO satellite Internet provides more coverage than LEO because it uses a network of satellites that are able to move around and cover different areas of the Earth.


What are the ways to connect to satellite Internet

There are two ways to connect to the network via satellite:

  1. One-way (asymmetric) method. In this case, a satellite channel is used to receive information and available terrestrial channels are used to transmit it. This method is mostly suitable for transmitting small amounts of information. If terrestrial Internet is slow, using asymmetric access together with it is a viable solution.
  2. Two-way (symmetric) method. Here both reception and transmission of data occurs exclusively through satellite channels. The symmetrical method of satellite Internet connection has become the most popular, and the technology of providing the service is called VSAT.

Connection to satellite Internet by asymmetric method does not require serious financial investments and can be organised independently. For this purpose you will need a set of such equipment:

  • Receiving antenna (as for satellite TV).
  • Amplifier (LNB), which will convert the received information (full analogue of the device for receiving TV signal).
  • A receiving board to receive the Internet signal (or TV signal, but not at the same time as the Internet).
  • An analogue modem or ADSL or Wi-Fi connection.

Symmetric access is already more expensive, as it requires the use of complex technical equipment and professional help with installation:

  • A satellite dish for the Internet with a diameter of at least 1.2 metres (TV antennas are not suitable).
  • An amplifier and transmitter to be mounted directly on the dish.
  • Terminal equipment that works both for receiving and transmitting the satellite signal, as well as routing traffic.

Three bands are used for satellite Internet: C, Ku, Ka. The Ku band has the largest coverage area and, consequently, popularity — small antennas and relatively inexpensive transmitters are used here. In recent years, satellite Internet range Ka is becoming increasingly popular: it works with standard antennas with a diameter of 0.75 m and at the output provides a sufficiently acceptable speed — 5 Mbps. The least widespread today is the C band, which is used exclusively for one-way satellite connection.

The most popular players in the satellite Internet market


Perhaps the most famous satellite Internet service today is Starlink, launched in 2019 by Ilon Musk's SpaceX. The speed at which such internet downloads data ranges from 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps with an average latency of 20-40 ms. Such a solution will be useful for those who use the Internet for gaming, streaming TV shows and films, or working from home.

And recently Qatar Airways announced that it will launch free high-speed Internet from Starlink in its aircraft. The planned Internet speeds will be up to 350 Mbps, allowing passengers to play games, access VPNs, watch sports, etc. This is the fifth company to partner with SpaceX (JSX, Hawaiian Airlines, AirBaltic and ZIPAIR are already partnering with it).

One of the oldest satellite Internet providers on the market is HughesNet. It is focused on US customers and offers Internet services with download speeds from 25 Mbps to 50 Mbps and an average latency of 600 ms.

Kuiper Systems, on the other hand, is a relatively new project from Amazon. It plans to launch 3,236 satellites over the next 10 years to provide high-speed Internet services to customers around the globe.

Pros and Cons of Satellite Internet

Among the key benefits of satellite Internet are three:

  1. The ability to provide high-speed Internet access to private homes and businesses in rural areas far from large cities that are not served by traditional Internet service providers.
  2. Independence of operation from terrestrial communications (in particular, availability of Internet connection during blackouts, provided that the equipment operates on backup power).
  3. No need to lay Internet cables.

However, satellite Internet has a number of disadvantages:

  1. The equipment set required for connection is expensive for an average Ukrainian (one antenna — from 300 to 500 dollars) and is delivered within several months.
  2. The equipment is registered for a specific user and address of use (i.e., in case of purchase of a second-hand terminal and not on the official website, you will not be able to contact technical support and get professional help if necessary).
  3. The quality of communication depends on weather conditions and is sensitive to the ground signal.

If you need a stable Internet for personal or professional purposes, and satellite Internet is too expensive, the best solution is to connect the Internet via PON technology. The line will be energy-independent, and with backup power supply of the equipment you will be able to use the Internet even when there is no light in the neighbourhood. To find out whether there is a technical possibility to connect optical Internet from Maxnet at your address, you can call 0800-31-0800.

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