Do not fund satellite broadband or puny 768k/200k service

For the past six years my wife and I have lived in a rural area and worked out of our home. We've survived (barely) with satellite broadband, and are now paying $100 a month for service from HughesNet. It claims to be about 1.5m down / 300k up, but often fails to perform to that spec. There are times when we have to drive almost 30 minutes to a coffee shop where we can get a WiFi connection when the satellite connection is inadequate. I would say two things about deploying broadband to unserved and underserved areas through the national broadband plan.

1. Due to its latency, a satellite connection is not true broadband and should not receive funding. Some applications like telephony and VPNs don't work at all (so much for telecommuting), and others like video streaming work so-so at best and often provide a degraded picture in this supposed age of HD TV. Moreover, HughesNet imposes a ridiculously low traffic limit on its users, although it refuses to disclose exactly what it is.

2. The notion that 768k down / 200k up should be considered as acceptable broadband speed as we move into the second decade of the 21st century is ludicrous. It would be a colossal waste of government money to fund projects which deliver such a low level of service. I already get that speed from Hughes and it's totally inadequate as a broadband standard moving forward. In an area where broadband is available from cable or telcos, no vendor could sell a 768/200 service to anyone. At a bare minimum, any federally-funded project should require 5m/1m, and even that is pathetic compared to the service offerings now widely available, and even more so in light of the new higher-speed services now being rolled out by cable.

The FCC needs to look forward. Satellite broadband and 768/200 service should be relegated to exhibits on old technology in the Smithsonian.


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Similar Ideas [ 5 ]


  1. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    Satellite service, whether current or next-generation, has and can be deployed without any government subsidies. Where government funding makes sense is to put a wired/wireless infrastructure in place on the ground in those areas where it does not make economic sense without such support. The satellite industry, which has an inherently inferior Internet product, wants to use government money to stay in the game.

  2. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    I totally AGREE. Satellite will never have enough spectrum to broadly cover the US with at datarates that are suitable for many applications. Tie that in with rain fades and other propagation factors, not to mention the huge cost premium they charge, I find satellite as a non-viable means to provide broadband in the US.

  3. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    For lack of being able to access broadband I have had to utilize satellite "broadband." Speeds are unacceptable but all that I can get in my semi-rural area. Additionally, data limit caps are unrealistic as they (at Hughesnet) preclude any effective utilization of video or multimedia other than general surfing, news or email.

  4. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    There are alternatives to satellite that don't have to be $100 a month. They might not be more than 768/200, but for some folks who used to have dial-up if we could concentrate on getting them even 768/200 at a reasonable price they would have broadband. Wireless Broadband (not mobile, WiFi) is much cheaper to deploy than Satellite and the FCC should be concentrating on this rather than Satellite. It can also produce speeds much higher, if the FCC will help middle-mile/backhaul connections, so pricing can be brought down for ISPs as well.

  5. Comment
    Unsubscribed User ( Idea Submitter )

    Although I do not have satelite, I am in a similar situation. I live in an underserved rural area. I currently have qwest DSL (1Mb/400kb), only speed provided in my area, this is also inadequate for working from home especially when my children are online. The kicker of it is that Mediacom (local cable provider) has Fiber cables running parallel to my property but will not provide access to me and my neighbors. I have contacted the state telecommunications board, of course they say they will look into it but nothing ever happens. The minimum consideration for Broadband connectivity should be at the very least 10mb. Making the minimum 768kb alows the cable and local telco providers to slide by and not be proactive in providing faster speeds for the digital age. If you don't set the minimum broadband speed at or above the current average speeds, which are very low, you will not encourage innovation.

  6. Comment

    Mandating 768K will price many potential users out of the market in areas where bandwidth is expensive. In many rural areas, a T1 line -- 1540K of wholesale bandwidth -- can cost $450 or more per month. This means that 768K of bandwidth will cost about $225 per month... at wholesale, not at retail! By the time the ISP adds in expenses to pay for the "last mile," the bandwidth will be unaffordable.

    It would be not only unwise but harmful to do that.

    There should be no speed mandates unless there are also cost controls at the wholesale level.

  7. Comment

    I also live in a semi-rural area, and my only option for broadband is satellite, which I have through HughesNet. You have to be very careful as to the amount of bandwidth you use, otherwise you will get completely SHUT DOWN for 24hrs. They say that they "reduce" your speed, but that's NOT true. The internet is so slow that you can't get anything done, which is not good when you work from home like I do. The satellite companies rip their customers off. I'm paying way more for this service than it's worth, but these companies can afford to price gouge because people like me have few other options available. I have regular dialup, which doesn't work for me since I NEED an always-on connection. I have a backup connection (wireless through Verizon), and it sucks just as bad as the satellite does. I'm spending a ton of money each month and not getting a darn thing for it but a headache.

    It's ridiculous that my home is now in an area where public water is an option, but cable or dsl internet is not.

  8. Comment

    The term "Broadband" needs to be defined ... its used as loosely as "3g" in the wireless biz. (I've worked for AT&T/T-MO for last 9yrs) We had "broadband" (cable) for 8 years but are getting by on point2point "wifi" (1m/256k) -- So I can relate to the immense difference in speeds mentioned with Satelite.

    With cable you take for granted being able to download games, play games live, watch you favorite tv shows online and even work from you home.

    Limited to a 1mb/256kb connection for a year has given me a whole new appreciation for cable. The biggest problem in the remote area (and with sat) is the insane lag and ping times. On cable I'd average ~15ms ping delays ... but now its often 300-1200 based on the weather and such. Probably even worse on sat right? Which means you'll time out constantly -- no vpn to work from home or online games.

    But its not limited by the technology -- its cost incentive completely. There is cable and fibre available 1/2 mile away but its not worth their $$$ to put a cable in to my area to only serve 30-40 families. Everyone out here is on an avg of 5 acres per house -- which is like 1000x less profit for effort than the city.

    When I moved out here - I even offered to pay the $14k to have fibre lines ran out to my house - but they we're interested. Even when I pointed out that I could guarantee 20+ customers in the process, all at $65/month ... thats nearly $14k a year alone.

    Its their short sightedness that'll cost them soon though -- I can already use my wireless phone to get a slow but stable connection using std gsm/edge rates. 3G has doubled that speed (but not yet available here) and HSPA is coming out soon (4g) which is "Broadband" speed ... ~768/384 speeds.

    Cost is what drives it all ... I was talking with my wifi guy as he tuned my attenae and was shocked when he said I've got a 32mb connection to the tower itself. So its only a matter of how much bandwith they can route up to the tower vs the cost. Which seems to cap at about 1.5mb when nobody else is online.

  9. Comment

    Apples & oranges. Your current service is consumer grade: no minimum speed, and latency that averages higher than voip can tolerate. Business grade (not just for business, but you pay for what you get) provides minimum speeds greater than 1mb down, and latency less than 700ms. Broadband stimulus plans should include a mix of consumer grade and business grade, and make both available to all consumers. Also, not every house/org needs a dish. If you backhaul a WiMAX tower with a high capacity business-grade satellite link, a whole un/underserved community has access to high bandwidth, low latency connectivity.

  10. Comment

    Yes we need to set a min speed that will be called broadband and anything less needs to be banned from advertising broadband.

    Also I understand hughes thinks it can get arround this by comming out with a new faster service. Thats great to have it faster however they will still have the bandwidth caps.

    Satellite should get no funding until they can make a service work with no bandwidth caps.

    I also think the FCC should stop the satellite companies from shutting us off or slow down as they claim when we go over caps. They should be required to notify us first and follow some type of rules.

  11. Comment

    I had hughes net.. for 1 night.. that night i had the service shut off, and i went down and changed out my credit cards and had them disabled the next day, they are not getting a dime from me .. and never will.. they want their equipment, but if they want it back they have to come get it, they falsely stated being broadband, but i have had broadband, real broadband does not cap people like they do, it is an idiotic service, and not worth a dime, and i feel like these satellite services need shut down.

    I am warning everyone who is working on the national broadband plan, do not fund satellite!!! DO NOT!!!

  12. Comment

    Satellite internet for america. DO NOT WANT. Fiber is the way to make sure we are ahead of the game for years to come and its a great way to serve the rural community since it can go further then DSL or cable.

  13. Comment

    I currently get ripped off by the local cable company to the tune of $62 a month, but Satellite doesn't come close close to cable speeds (even though my cable company is not very fast, it's enough to work on). I spend a lot of time uploading files and satellite just couldn't handle the traffic.

  14. Comment

    I completely agree. Please don't consider satellite internet to be an affordable and reliable broadband option because it is neither. Basic services (with very strict download limits) start at $60 per month, and can range much higher. Currently, we are getting around 400 down/100 up, with frequent outages due to weather and other mysterious causes.

    Satellite might be better than dial-up, but that's all that can be said for it. We are looking forward to the day when a real broadband option is available to us.

  15. Comment

    Definitely agree with this idea. Satellite behaves more like really fast dial-up; streaming media and VOIP are nearly impossible to deal with on a consumer connection (unlike cable or DSL). That doesn't even take into account the fact that one weather system can take your connection down for days, and during Snowpocalypse and Snowpocalypse II: Snowmageddon (I'm in northern Virginia) I was having to climb up on my porch to dust snow off the dish.

    The gov't should NOT be funding slow, unreliable connections like satellite, but rather getting people hardwired connections, even in rural areas.

  16. Comment

    We need to raise the bar on what broadband is. Being able to transfer more data per second than 56kbps dial-up is not enough.

    Also, we need to require quality standards too. High latency is not acceptable for some broadband tools. This is what eliminates Geo-Sync Satellite Internet from being a broadband connection.

  17. Comment

    I went to an RV park out in the sticks once and they had satellite Internet and it was terrible, way worse than DSL. I was talking with some other users at a picnic table who were also using it and one guy had said that it seemed like dial-up was faster. I feel your pain and hope that people like you will be the ones to receive fiber optic Internet for a fraction of the cost of what you're paying now for your satellite Internet. And yes, the pricing is ridiculous and there is a very high latency with satellite Internet and it shouldn't be considered as a broadband technology because of its lack of performance.

  18. Comment
    Community Member

    In my county where the FCC map show 98% of household with 4 Mbps access and neighbors within a mile of me that have it and Satellite is all I can get, I agree whole-heartily with this post also. Satellite IS NOT broadband and it isn't even high speed. EVERYONE who comes to my house complains about the Internet connection speed. If the wireless companies would start implementing unlicensed TV whitespace routers, Hughes would no longer be in the Internet access business.