back to article Satellite broadband rollout for all in US: But Europe just doesn't get it

Dish, the US satellite provider, has switched on its home domestic broadband service, but while Americans embrace satellite Europeans don't seem interested in talking to their birds. dishNET is offering 5Mb/s down, 1Mb/s up, for $40 to anywhere in the USA, via the Jupiter-1 bird. That will compete with HughesNet, which has …

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Re: Satellite

Well, yes and no. Australia has a low population density overall but its population is very, very highly concentrated and urbanized. 90% of Australians live in cities or towns, mostly within 100kms of the coast, with most of the balance living on the Sydney-Goulburn-Canberra-Albury-Wodonga-Melbourne corridor.

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Meh

Poor bastards. Still - I suppose in a country that large there are places where it's the only option.

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Satellite is NEVER broadband

The ENTIRE satellite capacity of UK is about one small rural exchange or Virgin street cabinet,

Contention is dire. Look at fine print of the Cap. It's horrible.

Also HTTP acceleration doesn't work with 3rd party VPN

Latency is 25 x worse than real Broadband.

Satellite is for people living where there is ZERO infrastructure and no mains electricity. You can in reality get fibre cheaply to anywhere that has mains electricity.

Fibre to the Home, or at worst Kerb UNIVERSALLY is about the same cost as an LTE rollout that does about 70% geographic coverage and average loaded cell speeds of about 1Mbps to 2Mbps.

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UP TO 5 Mb/s down and 1Mb/s up

as we all know, most people get UP TO 24 Mb/s or at least 8 Mb/s. On the contrary most will sit somewhere between 1 and 3 Mb/s. So what is satillite's real speed.

by contrast, I have up 40 down and 10 up. and get 37 and 8 with little issue:)

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Re: UP TO 5 Mb/s down and 1Mb/s up

satelite do 250mbs max, FTTH does 150mbs max

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WTF?

Re: UP TO 5 Mb/s down and 1Mb/s up

@Zmodem:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrjwaqZfjIY

No consumer or business product on this earth gives 250Mbps over satellite and even if you launched your own satellite for... I don't know.... let's just make up a huge number... £7Bn... and you did get 250 Mbps....

Why oh why oh why would you do such a stupid thing?

FTTH is NOT 150Mbps, being fibre the limits genuinely haven't been properly explored and at this time there are substantial caps imposed to maintain a good quality of service for everyone with the existing backhaul. FTTH could quite realisitcally support Gigabit internet. (BT in the UK does 330Mbps atm)

Talking about Gigabit... 4G 'LTE Advanced' supports 1Gbps down at max rates. It's epically more intelligent to subsidise a full blown LTE roll out for a country than attempt to get high bandwidth satellite-latency-that-makes-you-want-to-cry broadband for Joe Public.

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FAIL

satellite broardband sucks is why

horrific lag makes it no faster than an old 56k modem.

I know from experiance.

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JDX
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Re: satellite broardband sucks is why

It sounds like you speak from ignorance to me. Lag and speed are totally different. If you were playing an online game, a 56k modem might be far superior than satellite. If you were downloading a 1Gb file then things are reversed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: satellite broardband sucks is why

But "lag" may be applicable to games. In gaming it's a general description that covers both latency and total bandwidth. The total experience "lags" if one or the other drops. In this case if latency does.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: satellite broardband sucks is why

Lag in gaming is almost exclusively caused by latency these days. Bandwidth used by games is relatively small and a modern broadband connection shouldn't be struggling with that sort of traffic. Games can cause people to hit their download limits but this is mainly because there is constant communication between server and client, often for hours on end, not because those communications are bandwidth intensive in themselves.

The only time you're likely to see lag caused by a bandwidth issue is when contention comes into play. Occasionally this can be because of poor provisioning by the ISP but usually it's because of several people attempting to use the same household connection at once. If a family has a 10Mbit connection and Mom is watching the iPlayer using 4.95Mbit/s and Dad is downloading a torrent at 5Mbit/s, that only leaves Jimmy 50Kbit to play Counter-Strike. Because the Counter-Strike server and client can't maintain real time communication in that bandwidth, packets have to be dropped and Jimmy experiences lag before going on to describe everyone else on the server as a 'h4x0r' and a 'n00b'.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: satellite broardband sucks is why

If gaming is so important to them they should move somewhere that has landline BB.

What's proposed here is for people with ZERO chance of BB and even no dialup.

I would assume that the reason Skye and the Aussie outback need BB of any sort is for Home Schooling, emailing the doctor etc, it isnt just to please the 3 kids who want to play WOW, if that is the reason then I have no problem saying no to govt subsidies

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Anonymous Coward

Re: satellite broardband sucks is why

Well, you are true about the latency, but it's not necessarily that that slows things down.

Later (Windows) versions, and most Linux versions (and probably Apple IOS) have improved, but I still see a lot of installations where the TCP window size on the system is just too low for high-latency networks (including 2G, 3G, LTE, etc.).

Imagine your laptop/phone/desktop has a window size set up of 64k. I think this is the Windows OS default, but never mind that as I'm just giving an example.

Now use a network with a 50ms round-trip-time.

This would limit your maximum download speed on this network to 65535/0.05 x 8.... Around 10Mbps.

Take one example from above and use 700ms RTT (65535/0/7 x 8), and you're stuck at around 750kbps, no matter what your provider promised you, your OS is stopping you from getting any higher than that.

There are several tools out there you can use to determine your settings and change them.

Not all those "click here and we'll make you able to browse much faster" are snake-oil.

(happilly downloading at 3.1Mbps on my CDMA MiFi dongle here)

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Meh

What happened to Low Earth Orbit broadband?

Also what happened to WiMax?

Let's face it, the UK is corrupt and there will never be competition beyond Virgin and BT Wholesale.

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FAIL

The problem with LEO broadband is it's not a viable option. The satellite is orbiting once every 90 minutes or so, with a pass lasting a maximum of 15 minutes. As for your dish, it would not be a static dish and would have to track the satellite(s).

Now you could have a constellation of satellites, but to be able to have a continuous connection you'd be looking at a huge amount of satellites. For example a constellation of 5 satellites can guarantee a point on the earth covered once every 24 hours.

The only viable use for LEO based internet is a store and forward service, which terminal based radio hams have been using some of the LEO satellites for since the 80's.

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LEO setups can't stay still. Physics are what dictate that geostationary orbits tend to be at around 36,000 km. LEO setups work OK for a downlink-only system like GPS, but for anything requiring an uplink, you'll need more sophisticated electronics on the ground to get acceptable rates, which means more expense. A company called Teledesic made such a proposal. Thing is, they planned to get their constellation going TEN YEARS AGO. Right around the time they planned to go live, they went under. Most of the other LEO setups like Iridium also fell by the wayside. In general, the infrastructure needed appears to be too massive for the purpose.

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The GPS orbit is around 20,200km in what is known as Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). The European Galileo system is in an orbit of around 23,222km, the Russian GLONASS system is at 19,100km and the Chinese Compass system has an interesting mix of GEO, MEO and HEO (inclined orbit at GEO altitude) satellites.

The main uses of satellites in LEO are Science based (weather, ice coverage analysis, ionosphere, ISS) and Earth Observation.

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WTF?

What happened to Low Earth Orbit broadband?

Good question.

Also what happened to WiMax?

Good question.

Let's face it, the UK is corrupt and there will never be competition beyond Virgin and BT Wholesale.

Bat-shit insane non sequitur.

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Coat

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I made a snide comment about Satellite salesmen earlier because I used to work in the heavy lifting end of communications, Intelsat meetings and all that stuff. Like the gentleman who explained why there are real limitations to the satellite communications I am well aware of those issues. The places that I worked were once early and mass users of satellite communications, (they replaced HF Radio!) but I am not sure they even have one dish still operational now. Most things are now done via fibre optic cable. Satellite is highly flexible compared to cable so relatively ideal for ships, disaster recovery situation, some rural locations, etc. For most cases cable or some other narrow path connection method is better, even if it is spilt out to a wider area coverage on arrival at say the island location. In most European locations microwave, possible connections over power, (but beware of side issues with some methods!) or other focused methods not only offer far better bandwidth, but also usually lower costs. Even those lower costs may be too high for many and may bring even a very poor satellite single drop offering back into favour., e.g. where a government subsidy may fulfil both industrial and social needs for remote users The reason I berate salesmen is they offer the world while they know or should know that they can delivery almost nothing.

As for LEOS, as far as I know all the companies failed to launch the number of simultaneous operational birds before the cash ran out or the idea became clearly unviable. I do not remember small moving dishes being a realistic idea (not hand held anyway!) and thought that the plan was to use some as yet not realised omni directional aerial combined with on-bird switching and receiver based bird selection system. The issues with them were such things as close to zero in building coverage, the 'canyon problem' in cities and many remote locations when you can only see a small window of sky and so on. If I remember some of the navigation systems took over the remains of some of the birds for a while and others might have had a life as part of disaster management systems. Store and forward might usefully have worked with some slower accumulation data acquisition systems used for physical sciences work where data bursts say every 20~ 60 minutes might trump no data at all.

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Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane

Microwave needs a clear line-of-sight. Make sure that the transponders are installed during summer as microwaves don't like trees, as my parents found out, before being forced to move to satellite internet.

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Re: A Walk Down Memory Lane

Yup, they do not like trees that can cut off line of sight, metal sheds at the beam edge, buildings in the way, large heat sources like Aluminium smelters and all sorts of other issues, including ducting and misty hollows. But avoiding those hazards is what a proper surveyor would do. Not some fresh out of a manual desk jockey.

Properly designed and installed microwave is but one 'possibly better than nothing' solution

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Joke

Wait a second...

You "roll out" cable from a spool. You don't do that with satellites AFAIK.

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Re: Wait a second...

Well, the satellites do tend to "roll out" from the integration hanger, where they are bolted to the rocket , to the launch pad...

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Joke

Re: Wait a second...

If your internet "rolls out" is it in the same way we do from the pub after a pint on a Friday?

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Charlie Ergen owns both Dish and Hughesnet

> [dishNET] will compete with HughesNet

Dish and Echostar are both owned by Charlie Ergen. Echostar bought Hughes Communications, of which

Hughes Network Systems is a subsidiary, in 2011.

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Geography and lottery

Satellite comms work on a big geographic scale, the UK is smaller than Texas with quite a few thousand telephone exchanges so there's more local loop coverage. Too few punters UK to really make satellite services viable for consumers.

Camelot, lottery and sat comms: they needed reliable comms, preferably under one contract for the whole country from the Scottish islands to Cornwall and all points east to west across England, Wales & Northern Ireland - only option was satellite. They must have upwards of 50,000 locations, not a big throughput requirement, sat works.

Like the enlightening AC, above, I have past professional knowledge of a network required to service a 'retail' business network that covered the UK, top to bottom and side to side. It required landline, satellite and mobile service providers. The services are there if you need them but as with anything, 'pays your money and makes your choice'.

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There's simply no capacity

Yes, it does have coverage, but capacity is a serious problem. Even with beam-forming, the spots are still dozens of kilometers across. Capacity of those transponders is also quite limited. At most you get a few gigabits per spot which you need to share with the rest of your town. It's just a mess like cable. And I'm not even talking about latency here.

Satellite connectivity is for connectivity, not bandwidth. It's fine for checking lottery tickets.

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Re: There's simply no capacity

"Yes, it does have coverage, but capacity is a serious problem. Even with beam-forming, the spots are still dozens of kilometers across. Capacity of those transponders is also quite limited. At most you get a few gigabits per spot which you need to share with the rest of your town."

The assumption is you do not buy this in your town, you get cable or DSL. Those areas without cable or DSL tend to be more rural; splitting a few gbps among 10,000 people could get pretty bad, splitting it among 100 is probably not. Keep in mind once you get in the sticks you can have cell sites that also cover... well, in the western deserts here in the US some have a 50 mile service radius, but 10 mile radius is not uncommon at all. That'd also be horrible in a city but works fine in the countryside.

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Re: There's simply no capacity

Absolutely, if you live in your mountain hut, it's great, but those services are marketed as a replacement for DSL in areas where you get DSL.

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Europeans don't want it

because its crap

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yep, yep

Hughesnet Home & Small Office package@ $99.99/month - 550MB download limit per day w/free download between 2am and 7am. Everquest is playable with 700-1200ms ping times, twitchy first person shooters out of the question, and VPN with remote desktop is possible.

Have had it for six years now, been on waiting list all that time for a DSL port. Evidently AT&T upgrading the DSLAM would just be too much, therefore somebody has to die before one come open. Had enough of mountain living and am looking for somewhere closer in, the lack of standard broadband being a deal-breaker for new place of residence.

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Trollface

good luck in the rain

the lotto terminals where i used to work always bugged out in heavy rain

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Anonymous Coward

Re: good luck in the rain

GTECH has a lot of experience with satellite comms (lots of US lotteries are using GTECH and therefore using satellites--Virginia has been in the club since about mid-2007). As others have said, this particular setup has big advantages. One is it's as easy if not easier to service rural locations as it does urban ones. Second is that lottery communications are very asymmetric, especially when it comes to number reports or system updates. Updating is much easier, since instead of a whole bunch of point-to-point links, the update feed can be broadcast once over the whole area, with spot fixes only needed in those areas where there was trouble. Though you do have some foibles. Heavy rain does interfere with communications, and there are occasions in the event of snow or ice where someone has to go up and clean off the dish (I did that once last winter).

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Oh but the cap!

Outside some big cities, the broadband pricing in the US is atrocious, my parents pay like $38 a month for 1.5mbps DSL. *BUT*, (other than latency that others have already brought up), there's two major caveats here:

1) 10GB cap! 5mbps service is USELESS if the cap is that low. Web pages, E-Mail, etc. will easily work on 256kbps service, not needing 5mbps at all, while the Youtube (and especially Hulu and Netflix) that make faster service useful will blow your cap anyway. The devil is in the details though -- after 10GB, does DishNet start sucking huge wads of cash out of your wallet, or is it throttled at the cap? (To answer my own question, it appears they may be using Exede, which throttles at the cap, but has a midnight-5AM period that doesn't count towards your cap, for people to run their downloads and junk in.)

2) Until it's actually available for sale, it's vaporware. One of the existing satellite services was "going to" come out for $30 or $40 a month, and ended up coming in at $70 a month by the time they actually started doing any installations. That said, I just did some googling and indeed, base satellite plans are down to like $40-50 these days from several providers. Verizon's got increasingly widespread 4G and several carriers have huge amounts of 3G. The prices are generally a ripoff, but low enough that if satellite cos still charged like $80 a month, they'd only get those few people out of range of cable, DSL, *and* cellular data (whereas now they can undercut cellular a little bit on price.)

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Government Investment?

Europe's DNA has socialism hard coded? Can't imagine direct satellite broadband internet access without the government subsiding the effort? Dish paid to have the satellite built. Dish paid Arianespace to put it in orbit. No subsidy.

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Anonymous Coward

One dish only?

Unless the internet provider also provides a competing TV service to someone like Sky/Freesat, then it'll be D.O.A. - mostly for the fact that I believe having more than one dish on a property requires planning permission which I think most wouldn't be bothered to do if they already had TV via Sky or Freesat...

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Trollface

Aliens

Of course satelite internet is a no-go, we do not want aliens to snoop on our dirty habits.

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Pint

A common feature of most satellite Internet providers...

"Dear Valued Customer,

Your use of our satellite internet system is in excess of our Fair Use Policy. 5GB a month should be plenty for anyone; ROTFLMAO. Your usage pattern has exceeded this amount by 24%, this puts you in the top 3% of our users (because we keep killing off those that use this amount - spot the circular logic?). So, as this your only option, you'd better back off. This is your final warning.

Cheers.

Your least favourite company."

Unlimited, adj. See Fraud.

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How about "I don't want one of them bloody things on my roof"?

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Anonymous Coward

Satellite is a reasonable fit for some commercial uses

"lots of US lotteries are using GTECH and therefore using satellites"

Not just lotteries, not just the US.

E.g. Multinational chains with some rural presence across Europe (everything from petrol stations to betting shops) are quite likely to use satellite for various reasons: performance down isn't critical (download a pricefile once a day), performance up even less so (transaction summaries via landline?), latency is largely irrelevant, and using satellite permits a "one size fits all" uniform corporate solution - every branch has exactly the same setup, same service provider, regardless of location.

Other than that rather nice market, satellite isn't really relevant, especially to the SoHo user who seem to be in the snake oil salesmen's sights at the moment.

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Re: Satellite is a reasonable fit for some commercial uses

I noticed a lot of petrol stations here in .nl (Texaco, Esso) have a dish on the roof with clearly two lnb-like devices, hinting at a two-way satellite connection.

I'm not versed enough in that area to recognize the dishes and their bands, someone can probably explain.

The one-size-fits-all solution indeed, since petrol stations can't be too close to serious amounts of houses and those along the highway are usually quite far from areas with high population densities. Although highways are probably also a place for lots of fiber.. it's a way to make your right-of-way pay for itself.

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Sat BB is great

Unless you wish to use VOIP, or online gaming, and love throwing away you cash.

I suppose you could do walkie talkie type calls. Hi friend, over. Hi back, over. etc etc.

40 quid for that? I get 50Mbit for the same price here in Dublin.

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uplink over POTS ?

do any still work like that ? I remember that being 'sold' to me by a website 10 years or so ago ?

main benefit seemed to be far smaller dish required as no uplink was needed. There were claims of latency savings too, but not really sure I can see how that bit worked unless is was reliability/data rate or something.

Obviously uprate was hellish aka 56k speed, but downlink speeds were claimed in the 256-512 range at the time.

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WTF?

ViaSat is *not* Dish Network

Are you kidding me? ViaSat is *not* Dish Network.

The Dish Network product is the Hughes satellite service.

ViaSat is the new WildBlue service.

GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!!

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Have you mis-read the article...

...which merely stated that Dish Network resells Viasat capacity. [It has been updated to say that the company resells both Viasat and Hughes Satellite.]

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Alternative when the Man comes knocking

I'm in an area that has cable internet and no DSL. The only other option is satellite. I worry that I may be accused of downloading something that the MPAA, BMG, BMI, RIAA or that ilk do not want me to download and my internet gets axed. The way things are going, the media companies are going to own the internet for all practical purposes. It doesn't matter if the local laws are one strike or six, with the way notices are sent out, everybody is likely to get some eventually. Microsoft sends take down notices to Google for content on Bing.

I at least have some sort of back up to my cable connection and I could get internet re-installed. These days, if you don't have internet, you're hosed.

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Perhaps Europeans are smarter than USians?

"In Europe it's perceived as a stop-gap at best - certainly not for the long term despite the fact that just about every UK lottery ticket is authorised over satellite and there's enough capacity to supply broadband to the remotest regions of the British isles."

Issuing lottery tickets is one thing, attempting to play CoD (or do VoIP) with a 500ms plus latency ("high ping" in kids speak) is an entirely different matter.

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Facepalm

Hello, everyone. My name is NukEvil, and I live in a hole.

'Tis true. My next door neighbors can get DSL, but neither me nor the house next to me can get it. We're *just* too far from the exchange for that. So, I use satellite "broadband". It's pretty decent compared to dial-up, being I don't play games or do much of anything else that requires low latency. The latency between me and the closest Google web server is anywhere from 1 second to 1.5 seconds. Been using it for over 3 years.

BTW, it took the installers over 6 hours to finish installing the service. It took them only about 30 minutes to install the ViaSat modem, hand me the terms of the contract, get the computer connected, set up my account, and get the dish mounted on a pole. The rest of the time was spent watching them try to find their own satellite. The modem would go through the connection sequence over and over again, but would never achieve a valid connection. The "techies" kept calling their partners, trying to figure out what was wrong. The reason was because they were aiming the dish at the wrong satellite. I guess I should have realized what I was in for when one of them asked me for a compass shortly after driving up (I didn't have one).

I, finally out of patience, asked them what direction the dish needed to be pointed. One of them told me it needed to be pointed 235 degrees from North. Me, knowing the dish was pointed straight to the South, simply grabbed the sides of the dish, turned it in the general direction (I said, "Well, I think the dish needs to be pointed" *turn* "this way"), and the modem almost immediately achieved a lock, and then a valid connection. The techies didn't even need to fine-tune the position of the dish; the signal was perfect.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hello, everyone. My name is NukEvil, and I live in a hole.

"My next door neighbors can get DSL, but neither me nor the house next to me can get it. We're *just* too far from the exchange for that. So, I use satellite "broadband""

Bill Ray (author of this article) had the same problem but his solution was to build a DIY WiFi link to the next door folks and get access to DSL that way; there are a couple of articles on here about it somewhere.

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