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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