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Broadband on the Farm

Canadian Anik F2 'bird' will allow blanket high-speed service across North



7:33 pm on Jul 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Canadian Anik F2 'bird' will allow blanket high-speed service across North America [globeandmail.com]

Heheh, I love it when Canada beats the U.S. to this kind of thing.

Telesat Canada has long been a very dominant player in the murky world of communications satellites, and it looks like they've pulled an ace out of their sleeve with this one.

Anik F2 will be using the previously unused and experimental Ka Bands, instead of the Ku Bands that are currently used by communications satellites.

What this means, is that you will soon be able to get satellite broadband anywhere in North America, for just slightly more than cable broadband costs.

Christopher C

8:34 am on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

what kind of modems do you need with satellite? I'd trade broadband DSL for satellite lag in a second if it landed me on an island beach w/ a small shack, laptop, and cheap *insert exotic local drinks here*. Just have to figure out where to send the checks.


3:10 pm on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There is another exciting broadband technology called 3G on the horizon. I recently returned from Maui where I rented a battery powered 3G modem which gave me a high speed Internet connection anywhere on the island from my laptop which meant I could carry on business as usual from the beach or wherever. It is strictly line of sight so you must be able to see the transmitter which was situated on a mountain top. It worked beautifully!


3:20 pm on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jdmorgan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member


> Yes, there will be some latency issues, but it won't be near as bad as current sat broadband.

The latency will be exactly the same as the current two-way satellite service I described above, unless they can change the speed of light. At minimum, it is the altitude of the satellite times four, divided by the speed of light. The satellite altitude is fixed at about 22,300 miles, because it must be at that altitude in order to remain over a fixed position on earth (orbital mechanics). So, it's 89,200 miles, divided by 186,000 miles per second, or 480 milliseconds, plus the delay in the modem, satellite and ground station electronics, plus the "internet" delay, which is roughly the same for any connection to a given server.

In practice, 480 milliseconds is the minimum, because the client and the ground station are rarely located directly below the satellite, so the signal must take a longer path (trigonometry), and the speed of light is slower than 186,000 miles per second in air -- 186,000 miles per second is the maximum speed of light in a vacuum.

vkaryl, yes this is similar to full-duplex voice over satellite.

I hope the bird can be launched successfuly. It will be a great boon to those who can't get any other kind of connection. I just get testy when they market it as being equivalent to DSL or cable speeds.



4:25 pm on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Sorry jd, I wasn't being specific enough, I was refering to the latency of the sat-in, landline out satellite services.

The latency there is worse because you're "click" has to be transmitted through the phone service to the ISP, which does the processing, before anything gets sent to the satellite, in turn to be sent back to your computer. It's a more circuitous route, so more latency. (I think, I really haven't much messed around with sat broadband).

Technical issues aside, and setting aside the obvious benefits for the hermits among us (I'm already stock-piling logs for my cabin in the rockies...)

Anyone see this as potentially making a big difference in rural communities? Especially in terms of increasing the information available for small rural schools, where education tends to lag behind the urban schools?

Other potentially neat applications:

Tracking gear hooked up to a dish on the roof of your motorhome/SUV/name the vehicle of your choice.

Broadband enabled passenger aircraft.

Broadband on cruise ships.

Collapseable, battery operated, backpack broadband you can take with you anywhere you can walk or hike or climb. Mebbe a bit heavy for the sport trekker, but for survey crews, arctic exploration, remote location seismic crews, etc.... Could be a boon.


4:29 pm on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Thanks for the real-world info from a user of this. It's some of the most important knowledge when evaluating something new like this, especially with all the fantasies we all have about higher speed access. Reality is sometimes a bit more disappointing.


5:35 pm on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The latency issue is really silly. All you'd have to do is make sure the packets are sent faster then the speed of light, and have the headers of each one set to exactly the time it was sent. Because of the nature of the technology it'll go back in time, and get there at the exact moment it was sent. 0ms ping, I love it.


7:00 pm on Jul 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

i imagine the pricing will change - $1600 hardware
$149/mo with 36mo contract!

good for those on boats and such i guess



2:32 am on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Yeah, that's the price for the current offerrings.

Going back to the original G&M article I posted at the begining of the thread, indications are for it to hit the consumer market at slightly more than cable broadband.

As for the latency issue:

An even better way to beat it would be to install an infinite improbability drive inside the modem, powered by a nice source of brownian motion. The modem could then flip instantly, and at all times, between your desktop, the satellite, and the base ground receiver, carrying your data with it as it goes.

And *poof* the latency dissolves in a puff of improbability.


2:51 am on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jdmorgan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Well, it looks like the launch has been re-scheduled for 00h43 to 01h29 on Friday, July 16 (GMT), according to ArianeSpace news. Bon voyage, Anik F2!



3:18 am on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I really like the sci-fi slant a couple of you have taken on this....

Reminds me that there's a book I want to write. I may be contacting a couple of you for information from the aliens. Consultancy pays, y'know?

*laughing* Anyway, this was an enjoyable thread for various reasons!


3:56 am on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My experience of 2 way satellite has been very positive. The location here is in a remote part of an island where there is not even a land line telephone - we use a UHF radio link to a special Telcom switch. I agree with JDs point about marketing folks glossing over the latency issue but also feel that the problem is a bit overstated; at least in this part of the world.

The problems experienced in dial up connections here include ISPs who completely ignore their bandwidth limitations, flaky undersea cables to regional communication hubs and an overloaded national Telecom network. People frequently have to wait until late evening to be able to read their mail. Satellite has got me around all of that but at a cost that is huge - US$6000 for the antenna, box and installation plus US$1000 per month. A lot of the upfront bill was for freight and international travel by the installation staff. We load the monthly cost into our product and recover it that way.

Quite frankly 600ms latency is a trivial issue compared to trying to read the New York Times through the local services. We often got connections of 28k but that's meaningless when the average terrestial network speed is somewhere in the sub 10k area. Maybe those problems don't occur in the North American backwoods but it's reality in much of the 3rd world and satellite is the only way around it. It allows you to connect directly to an earth station in an advanced country. Incidentally my daughter uses messaging and chat services daily and has no problem with either.


5:43 am on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One thing to keep in mind when considering latency is that the latency applies to each HTTP request. If you have 500ms round-trip latency and visit a page with a stylesheet, that's a full second of latency before the page can be properly rendered. Add in external Javascript, graphics files, etc. and things can get really, really bad on certain types of sites.

Of course, HTTP Pipelining can reduce this if you use a browser that supports it (e.g., Mozilla), but the pipelining only kicks in after the first request has received a response. Until then, the browser doesn't know what version of HTTP the server supports.


6:09 am on Jul 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jdmorgan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

That's a good point. In most cases, though, the satellite ISP will "proxy" pages for you. They actually parse the requested page at their end, send the requests for additional included objects to the server on your behalf, and bundle up the entire response to send to you (if possible) in one chunk. On receipt, the actual requested page gets delivered to your browser, while the as-yet-unrequested included objects sit in a cache on your PC, waiting for the browser to request them. This prefetching and caching usually works pretty well, unless the page is so complex that the "page proxy" can't figure it out - A certain AV security site used to give me fits because of this. Anyway, the sat ISP's do everything they can to mask the latency, but that first request is unconditonally delayed.

There are several additional layers of protocol involved in sat connections, plus custom software to handle the prefetching mentioned above, and that's why you must use a PC to connect to the satellite modem; you cannot connect the satellite modem to a router, because a router won't understand the additional protocol layers on top of TCP/IP. If you want to share the connection, you'll need a satellite-aware proxy program - there are several good and inexpensive ones available - and an additonal network card to connect to your other machines via your local network.



12:46 am on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My experiences as a 2 way Starband user for 3 or so years.
Compared to phone lines so bad that I used to see downloads clicking along at under 100 b/sec (yes b not kb or KB)it is a decent choice at around $600 for modem/software + $70/month. The large downloads shine.
Uploads are very poor for 2 reasons. They throttle the uploads and the delay seems to confuse every ftp application I have tried. When uploading there are constant 'hangs/timeouts' etc.
They do seem to cache data as I tend to see 4-5 KB pages in one shot after waiting a couple sronds or so.
Sites with lots of small gif/jpg images such as ebay load very slow. A typical ebay page can take up to 30+ seconds to load.
Rain fade is also an issue both at my location and the NOC.
They frown on networking unless upgrading to a business plan a $130/month. It will only operate on a windows machine. I know a guy who figured out how to run through a router and when he did this both his upload and downloads were near cable (he said--he lives in another state). Problem is they caught him and kicked him off.
I have an old windows machine as a gateway because for some reason everything works better from other boxes on my little network.
It is not unusual to have to jump through hoops to keep everything working and support sucks.

I am waiting for Wild Blue to get going and see how it works. Thought about Direcway but think I'll wait & see where things are going.

Sad thing for me is I am only about 4 or 5 miles from cable or dsl.


1:09 am on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hmmm... Hark, that reminds me of one of the tweaks to Firefox: user_pref("network.http.pipelining", true); I suggest you google that for more details.

Pipelining should help avoid having to make a different http request for each little gif/jpg on a page. HTH


4:16 am on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If I was "only 4 or 5 miles" from cable I'd dig the damn ditch by hand - alternatively, it'd be cheaper to hire a ditchwitch than pay for satband....



4:23 am on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member macguru is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The gizmo was sucessfully lauched. Hope this new service will meet his promises on beeing just a "small premium" over conventional broadband Internet access. Lets see in a few months...


4:32 pm on Jul 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm really hoping they keep the price in line. If they do, it'll make a huge difference up here. I personally know a lot of people on acreages and farms who would love to have reasonable priced broadband.

It's more of an issue up here than in the US, a higher % of the pop lives outside cities, either in the countryside or in small communities where setting up a land based broadband service would be unjustifiable due to the small size of the market.


2:51 pm on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm enjoying this thread, and appreciate the info. Having been spoiled by DSL at home, I'm looking for broadband service at my place in northern MN. No cable, no DSL. I can get ISDN for $150 a month or so, plus the ISP costs.

Looking at sats as an alternative. Are there any particular providers that are cost effective?


3:49 pm on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jdmorgan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member


Welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com]!

StarBand and DirecWay are the two major players in the American fixed-location market. Mobile-satellite internet service is much more expensive -- Probably not worth considering for household use.

Emerging technologies are LMDS and cellular-based systems. LMDS is a point-to-point microwave system -- Search for "wireless internet (service) provider(s)" or maybe "wireless broadband" to find availability info. The cellular systems use the same infrastructure that's in use now to support internet-capable cell phones.

The LMDS approach is the most straightforward and (today) most capable deployed techology, IMO, *if* you can get it.

Definitely do a lot of research before jumping into this; Things are changing fast, and more options are opening up. And realy dig deep on searches -- Some of the best "local" providers have sites which are very hard to find because of all the ISP directories and the "loose" use of technical terms causing overlap of unrelated search topics.



7:31 pm on Jul 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Great advice, JD. Thanks!
This 51 message thread spans 2 pages: 51

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