What is a Satellite Broadband connection?

Satellite broadband connections utilise the bandwidth of orbiting satellites to relay a broadband internet signal to receivers on the ground. Satellite broadband uses the same satellites that send and receive television and telephone services. Due to the orbit of satellite anywhere within the line of site of the orbit can receive a broadband signal when using the correct technology. This enables satellite broadband connections to reach rural and remote areas where other broadband technologies cannot.

Satellite broadband connections are generally used where ADSL, ADSL2+, Cable or Mobile Broadband connections are not available. Only a handful of broadband providers in Australia offer Satellite Broadband services with the major providers being Telstra Bigpond and Optus.

Satellite Broadband connections require a professional installation of a receiver which is installed on the roof of your house or in the line of sight of a satellite network. You will also need a broadband modem to decode the satellite connection once it is received.  Because installation requires a technician, set up fees for satellite broadband are generally fairly expensive.

Satellite speeds are not as fast as ADSL2+ or Cable broadband connections and speed will vary depending on the amount of data being transmitted by the satellite at the time of connection. Generally, satellite broadband speed range up to about 800kbps for downloads and up to 128kbps for uploads. This is less than the average ADSL broadband connections, but over ten times faster than a dial up internet connection.

Satellite subscribes can choose from two types of connections: one way or two way broadband connections. A one way connection enables the user to download information from the internet but will not send information back to the satellite. This means on a one way connection the user cannot upload information back onto the internet, for example by sending an email or uploading a photo. One way connections are useful if the user only requires access to view information on the internet. A two way connection enables the satellite broadband subscriber to upload and download information to and from the internet.

Telstra Bigpond offers Satellite broadband plans ranging from $104.95 a month for a 256kbps/64kbps connection with 500MB of downloads to their fastest plan with speeds of 800kbps/128kbps with 4GB download limit for $499.95 a month.

Optus offers Satellite Broadband plans ranging from $9.99 for a 1 GB plan at 256/64kbps, up to  $417 for a 1024/256kbps plan with 10 GB of download. With the Australian Broadband Guarantee program applications are eligible for up to $2750 from the Federal government towards a Satellite broadband installation.

Satellite Broadband can be expensive and if you are able to receive an ADSL, Cable or Mobile broadband connection it is generally a better option. Satellite connections can often be disrupted by extreme weather conditions.

The Australian Government offers discounted Satellite Broadband installations as part of the National Broadband Guarantee. This means Satellite installations are offered with a rebate from the government to ensure internet access in remote or rural locations.