Satellite Internet Access for Your Home Network

I've had many requests for more information about satellite Internet access. My experience is limited (though growing everyday), but I discovered two Web sites dedicated to the various connection methodologies. These sites are not vendor-run sites; users of the services operate them. Both sites have Web forums where users post their actual experiences, so you can get some idea about each service before you chose to invest: Two-way satellite connections have a pretty steep buy-in (around $700 unless you get some sort of installation deal).

Visit the following Web sites for user experiences and information about Starband or DirecPC. If you're a current user of these services, you can share your experiences with me, and I'll pass them along to other readers.

Currently, I use the 1-way DirecPC service, using a DirecDuo dish so that I have one dish for Internet and television signals. In the 6 weeks I've been using this service, my experience has been generally positive. I've dealt with the latency problems present in all satellite connections (no VPN support), and I had to switch my FTP software to CuteFTP Pro, which has better passive FTP support. Overall, I have only two major complaints. The first is that the landline connection disconnects me every 6 hours. DirecPC tech support personnel say the problem isn't on their end, but I get a message that says Remote Party Disconnected, and the timeout isn't being initiated by my network, so I think they're wrong. The second problem is the wide variety of IP addresses the service assigns me when I connect. The addresses aren't limited to a single Class C range, so I've had problems configuring my business mail server to allow relaying from my DirecPC-connected client. Opening too many address ranges allows spamming through our business mail servers, which quickly becomes a problem. After I have the 2-way satellite service running, I hope I can get a static IP address or at least a more narrow range of DHCP addresses.

On the positive side, I consistently reach download speeds of more than 600Kbps from a service that claims to provide 400Kbps. On occasion (generally late at night), I've seen download speeds faster than 1.1Mbps. I've also managed to avoid getting caught by the Fair Access Policy (FAP) so far (The FAP limits the amount of downloading any user can do. When you reach the magic number—which is undefined—your service gets capped at modem-like speeds. When this happens, you've been fapped).

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