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Consumer-Grade Satellite Internet

Deal Maker or Breaker

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Consumer-grade satellite Internet services, like the very popular HughesNet and WildBlue in the US, offer affordable broadband to areas beyond the reach of traditional landbased networks.

The capability to deliver faster downloads compared to standard dial-up Internet combined with availability just about anywhere across the country makes this shared bandwidth satellite service very attractive. But ...

before you order consumer-grade satellite Internet, there are some characteristics and limitations of this service that you should know about, first. We'll take alook at the pros and cons of this service to help you decide if it's a good solution for your communications needs.

Reality of Satellite Services

Unlike traditional broadband, satellite Internet service, by nature, is very expensive. This is because it costs a tremendous amount of money (over $150 million dollars) to build, launch, and maintain a satellite in orbit during its useable life (about 15 years).

Service Characteristics

So, in an effort to recoup those expenses, satellite operators charge higher rates for rental of segment space (Internet access) on the satellite. This has a trickle-down effect to the consumer-grade service providers who oversell segment space in an effort to maximize profits, as well as, make the service affordable and thus more appealing to the general public.

This oversubscribed service (grouping too many subscribers together on the satellite with the same access to the Internet) is known in the industry as high contention ratio service.

FYI, the service contention for shared bandwidth satellite Internet service is expressed as a ratio of the number of subscribers sharing the same segment space on the satellite. Although consumer-grade providers normally do not advertise service contention ratios, within the industry they are understood to be at least 250:1 for some services and as high as 400:1 for others.

Unfortunately, this practice often leads to slow, congested service which causes frustration and disappointment for many subscribers. Service congestion usually will occur when too many people sharing the same connection to the Internet all try to get online at the same time with insufficient bandwidth availability. Lower contention ratio service, featured with business-grade satellite Internet, significantly reduces the possibility of this occurence.

Service Advantages

  •  broadband Internet access - faster than dial-up service

  •  availability everywhere in the continental US

  •  subscription cost is substantially less than business-grade

  •  equipment cost (approx. $200) is fraction of business-grade

Service Limitations

Consumer-grade satellite Internet does have some limitations that you need to be aware of in order to help you decide whether or not this service will meet your communications needs and expectations.

Capability is really an important issue with this service. If you Do Not Need to use the Internet extensively (frequent large downloads) or require that your satellite link support VOIP (internet phone) service or any other advanced communications services - i.e. VPN, video streaming, video conferencing, RPN, P2P, etc., then consumer grade satellite internet service may serve your needs adequately.

Generally speaking, it can satisfactorily support common online activities, such as, web browsing, emailing and file downloading as long as the files are not too large.

More About Consumer Grade Service

HughesNet system equipment
HughesNet System Equipment

In an effort to make the service equally accessible to all subscribers, most consumer-grade providers enforce an FAP (Fair Access Policy) whereby your service would be severely restricted for a period of 24 hours, if your downloading total exceeds a certain threshold (usually 200 Mb in a 24 hr period). This level is set quite high so as not to affect the majority of subscribers. However, ...

When this infraction occurs, the resultant service speed will be comparable to dial-up Internet service during the restricted period. Here's a link to explain more about the Fair Access Policy enacted by HughesNet, one of the most popular consumer grade satellite Internet providers in the US.

In addition to FAP enforcement, consumer-grade satellite internet providers employ other cost saving techniques. Specifically, at peak service times during the day, service is throttled-back (reduced bandwidth speed) in order to accomodate the demand for Internet access.


If you can tolerate the inconvenience of throttled-back service and somewhat limited service capability, then consumer-grade satellite internet may prove to be a satisfactory service for you. Certainly, you will save a significant amount of money on both satellite system equipment and monthly subscription costs over business-grade service.

It really comes down to how important service dependability and consistent throughput speed is to you and how much you are willing to pay for it.

Learn more about HughesNet, the most popular consumer grade satellite Internet service available in the US.

Business-Grade Service Option

If you require a satellite link to support VOIP-Internet phone or any other advanced communications service, in addition to Internet access, then business-grade satellite Internet may offer the best solution for you because it offers greater dependabilty, capability, and consistency of service.

However, you need to be aware that because it was created to meet the needs of business environments, business-grade service and system equipment is very expensive for most individuals to seriously consider. Learn more about the features and benefits of business-grade satellite internet service.

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International broadband satellite services are also available in ~

Africa   •  Asia  •  Australia/ New Zealand/ Pacific Islands

  •  Canada/ North America  •  Caribbean  •  Central America/Mexico

•  Europe  •  Middle East  •  South America  •  USA

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