Satellite broadband provider Avanti is expecting a chunk of government cash to pay for a second satellite, despite not having managed to launch the first one yet. Avanti's CEO has been telling the Financial Times that the company expects to get a significant share of the £200m that the government has promised to spend on …
WiMAX may be the answer ...
Satellite latency is no good for acceptable real-time services such as VoIP and Video. Pushing oodles of lolly into such a system would be short-termism. Given the huge cost of a 3G roll-out and the cost of putting decent backhaul for it in place (and further for LTE) we really should be looking at WiMAX. Latencies are perfectly acceptable for real-time services, throughput are acceptable and the price is right. There's also little issue with backhaul as it offer 70-100Mbs between towers for backhaul using LOS (Line of sight).
WiMAX is the answer if you're peddling that tin
Satellite latency is one of those bits of conventional wisdom wrt VoIP, Video and even humble FTP.
If you know what it is and it's constant, you can manage it via TCP and application tweaks. Back in the dark ages of VoIP, people said thou must have <350ms latency. But thou must also be able to talk to Tokyo and Melbourne via VoIP and even good'ol POTS. Funny how that works.
For the basics, check Steven's TCP/IP Illustrated and the section on the 'Long Fat Pipe' challenge. This still confuses people, especially as they're buying international Gigabit Ethernet circuits and complaining their single FTP session doesn't give them the throughput they expect. This, however has created a market for people flogging bandwidth accelerators.
Where satellite does create latency problems with real-time apps is when there are multiple satellite hops involved. For a UK market, should just be a single hop and apparent latency will probably be due to contention on the transponder(s).
The difference between bandwidth and speed
Sateliite broadband not only has latency issues - it potentially has a heavily congested 'last mile'. The more successful it becomes the less bandwidth is available to its users. A satellite with 10Gb/s downstream sounds good but if it's serving 100,000 people that's only 100kb/s average. This is why satellite broadband tends to be expensive with nasty usage limits. It only really works for bursty applications. Get a few P2P applications or iPlayer up and running and see how well it fares.