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The Internet Wireless Networking

ViaSat Delivers 12 Mbps+ Via Satellite 245

An anonymous reader writes "Last Thursday, ViaSat announced pricing for its new home broadband service, which is set to deliver 12 Mbps+ download speeds (3 Mbps+ up) beginning next week for $50 per month. Engadget just dropped by the company's demo home just a few feet from the Engadget trailer at the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot to try it out, and posted their review." The comments there, understandably, wail for information about how much data that $50 buys.
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ViaSat Delivers 12 Mbps+ Via Satellite

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  • by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Sunday January 08, 2012 @10:12PM (#38633846)
    Caps can be an issue, but if you are rural these speeds and prices are an instant upgrade.
    • by halo1982 ( 679554 ) * on Sunday January 08, 2012 @10:16PM (#38633864) Homepage Journal

      Caps can be an issue, but if you are rural these speeds and prices are an instant upgrade.

      Yep, with Hughes and WildBlue being around $80/m for 1.5 down these speeds are quite welcome.

      • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Sunday January 08, 2012 @10:40PM (#38634036)

        ViaSat is actually linking their Via-1 Sartelite with WildBlue so customers of that service should get the better value as soon as this goes live.

        • ViaSat is actually linking their Via-1 Sartelite with WildBlue so customers of that service should get the better value as soon as this goes live.

          I would imagine to take advantage of this at the very least the customers will need a dish repoint to Viasat-1 at 115.1 W if not an all new modem/TRIA to be able to take full advantage of the speeds.

          What, you don't think the company would just upgrade a customer's speed at no cost do you? Hah!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by noh8rz2 ( 2538714 )
        Throughput is great if I'm downloading large files, but what's the latency? Awful, I imagine. This kills any bi-directional applications - Skype, e.g., and spoils the snappiness of a good internet experience.
        • by hdd ( 772289 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @11:35PM (#38634364)
          Latency in any sat based communication is governed by physics, not technology. Skype/VOIP over a sat connection is actually not terrible once both party understand that they need to wait for the other end to finish before they start talking. On the other hand, being able to get 720p streaming over sat connection is not something that you could get for 50 bucks a month before, so this is a huge improvement.
        • I recently assisted a gentleman on HughesNet with a ping of 1008.
    • by Lincolnshire Poacher ( 1205798 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @05:09AM (#38635714)

      Caps can be an issue, but with satellite links it's rate-limiting that's the main issue.

      For example the TooWay service in Europe can sustain 10 Mbps downlink, but if you use more than 500 MB in any one hour, or 2GB in a week [] then your data rate will be throttled for the remainder of the "fair access" window.

      This was the main reason I had to stay with a flaky, wind-affected ADSL connection instead of moving to satellite. Although the data cap was generous, trying to use it was penalised.

  • Ping (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zennyboy ( 1002544 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @10:15PM (#38633858)

    Download speed is nice, but for gaming, latency is God...

    • Re:Ping (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @10:22PM (#38633892) Journal
      Latency is an issue for Farmville? For 90% of the Internet using public, latency of a second is acceptable - speed when connected is king (can it stream music/Netfix/Youtube). Farmville doesn't really have a latency issue...
      • Re:Ping (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2012 @10:34PM (#38633990)

        Ever try to load Gmail over a high latency connection? Anything with a lot of redirects will cause an issue - and that is a lot more stuff than you think...

        • Yup, most days, via a bi-directional VSAT connection. It's slow, but usable. I browse Slashdot while it loads up (30-60 seconds). Once it's loaded, it's pretty snappy. Honestly, though, I figured the fractional (split up to 10 ways) 256kbps that I pay over $300 for was more to blame than the latency, especially with Chrome's and Firefox's DNS caching. (I wish I had the VSAT pricing and competition available in the USA!! Alas, VSAT options in South America are pretty limited. I'll take a look at this
        • Re:Ping (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @04:57AM (#38635668) Homepage

          Ever try to load Gmail over a high latency connection? Anything with a lot of redirects will cause an issue - and that is a lot more stuff than you think...

          Good -- maybe all the rustic folk out in the hinterlands will complain enough to get a few sites to use less than 19 external sources of javascript tracking bugs, and to only have four or five layers of external scripts that load external scripts that load external scripts.

        • by JoelKatz ( 46478 )

          It isn't a normal high latency connection. The software is sophisticated enough to anticipate web requests before you send them. The latency doesn't multiply over things like redirects and referenced images. Of course, that only works over web pages that the accelerator understands. Web browsing is actually quite comfortable. VOIP is basically impossible. Gaming is fine with the exception of first-person shooters.

          What kills you are the transfer caps. That's what makes it intolerable.

      • But this is Slashdot. So I believe we have a much larger percentage of users who game on latency sensitive MMO's
      • Try having VOIP with 600ms of latency, or just a video chat. It is incredibly annoying.

        • Try having VOIP with 600ms of latency, or just a video chat. It is incredibly annoying.

          Back when new carriers were starting in long distance telephony, about 25 years ago, I used "Satellite Business Systems" for a carrier. The latency was a little annoying, mostly because it gave you the feeling that the person you were talking to was a bit stupid, because they were so slow to respond. But I got used to it. It wasn't ideal, but the price was right. Life's all about trade-offs.

        • Re:Ping (Score:4, Funny)

          by PNutts ( 199112 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @11:01PM (#38634184)
          >Try having VOIP with 600ms of latency, or just a video chat. It is incredibly annoying.

          I           ouldn't         agr             more.

        • Try having VOIP with 600ms of latency, or just a video chat. It is incredibly annoying.

          Much less annoying than having to route all of your communications through a short-wave radio. I'll take VOIP (or even video chat) over a terrible VSAT connection any day. In fact, I do. It's all a matter of perspective.

      • Re:Ping (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hibiki_r ( 649814 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @10:45PM (#38634078)

        1 second is still a disaster for complex sites: You load the page. The page includes some javascript file. Said javascript file includes some more. Then it makes a couple dozen web service calls... and that's if we hope the browser is smart enough to request every link in the page at once.

        I've seen many a custom business apps that was tested with pings of 0-10 be a bit slow with 80s, and a total disaster when used from another continent. A 1 second ping makes a connection from the US to India seem like a LAN.

        • If your satellite provider is "doing it right" (and most of them do), they'll proxy everything on its way up from a datacenter somewhere with a fast pipe and send it all on up to your remote router in a chunk, and your request ends at the router in the next room. If they didn't do this, the latency would be a much bigger issue.
    • yeah... you're looking at 250ms for a round-trip at light speed to a geostationary satellite. I've had better latency on dialup in the 90's.

      As others have said though, perfectly fine for browsing on facepalm

    • Who the hell games on a satellite connection?

  • Actually there is something else I would like to know. Ping time. For gaming, that is what matters most and there can be huge differences depending on your ISP. And yes, I might seem spoiled but the difference between 33ms and 300ms is far bigger to me then whether a patch takes 5 minutes or 50 minutes.

    • by __aaqvdr516 ( 975138 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @10:41PM (#38634046)

      I was on Wild Blue Satellite for 1 full year. They do a "rolling" average for bandwidth that depends on your package. I had 17GB per month. If I used 400MB today, that would "roll off" in 30 days thus making it available again.

      My latency was a solid 2000ms or higher at all times. I lost connection any time there was heavy storms between Virginia and New York. I was paying somewhere around $70/mo. I had trouble staying connected to Steam, so I stopped using it and favored retail single player games for that year.

      I'm now on a more restricted local ISP and haven't really looked back. Instead of being on a rolling average I'm on a hard 600MB/day plan. I am paying more than under satellite, but I'm able to achieve 30ms pings (the ISP is actually WISP).

      My fondest memories of satellite are: turning off prefetching webpages, clicking a link and then waiting many seconds for anything to happen and often wondering if I actually clicked it, and checking the bandwidth monitor logs to make sure I wasn't about to go over my limit.

      Seriously, fuck satellite internet.

      • Amen, everything you have said resounds with me, and especially my father. The only service available in the rural upstate NY village is satellite, or a 3G modem (which has better pings, but much worse caps of around 5GB per month). The entire street petitioned for cable to be run (everyone would agree to subscribe), but the cable company's response? Ok, pay us $10,000 per mile of cable we need to run and we'll do it. A few hundred feet down the next road is a house with DSL, but it is unavailable where
    • This latency shouldn't bother the porn industry at all.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by VJmes ( 2449518 )
      If every American gamer used a satellite connection maybe some Australian's and Europeans would start winning a few online matches.
  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @10:20PM (#38633880)
    Really nothing you can do about it, no mater what the bandwidth is having to go to orbit and back will make this unusable for a lot of stuff.
    • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @10:31PM (#38633946)
      that's why I use straight path neutrino beams through the planet. I quit using CERN's neutrino source though, because of the negative latency. It's annoying to get the results of a command while I'm still typing it.
    • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

      A lot of people will mention gaming, but this could make it pretty difficult for VOIP, Skype, etc. Basically any kind of application that requires latency to be less than 100ms. Last time I was on satellite I saw ping times above 500ms. That just won't work for most of what I do.

      Latency is not just an issue for gaming, it can be a deal breaker for quite a few things.

      • A lot of people will mention gaming, but this could make it pretty difficult for VOIP, Skype, etc. Basically any kind of application that requires latency to be less than 100ms.

        On a good day it's 220ms from our AU office to one of our other US offices... Skype works just fine, thanks.

    • by green1 ( 322787 )

      Actually, there IS something that can be done about it, only problem is that no satellite internet provider has actually done it yet.

      Replace one geostationary satellite with a constellation of LEO satellites. This significantly reduces the path time of the signal. It's been done for voice services on satellite already, we just need the data services to catch up. There are of course other advantages to this idea too, it would allow omni-directional antennas that don't need to be aimed at any specific point i

  • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @11:08PM (#38634220)

    I wonder why they aren't putting network satellites in LEO instead of geostationary. Just how hard would it be to use a phased array antenna instead of a dish and track the orbit? Would that negate the lower cost of only going to LEO? After all, with the satellites in lower orbit you could launch more of them, which ought to improve bandwidth. And the improvement in latency would make this arrangement competetive with any other broadband offering.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Geostationary makes it more easy for the NSA sat to collect all the communications.
      Nice to know where your needing remote communications, what your saying and where your packets are going, 24/7.
      Safe for long term tracking.
    • I don't think the geostationary distance is responsible for the latency. It probably has a lot more to do with the task of transmitting and receiving broadband data from a satelite. The phased array would increase their investment in launches, as well as ground based hubs. In addition, most customers would be priced out of the service since the hardware would need to track the satellite; not an easy or cheap task for something you mount on your roof and never service again.

      In summary, geostationary is the o

      • Re:Why no LEO? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2012 @12:53AM (#38634824)

        I don't think the geostationary distance is responsible for the latency

        Err, do a calculation before saying stuff like this..

        geostationary orbit is about 40,000km from surface of US, more or less. Speed of light is 300,000km/s. So ping due to speed of light limitation is 40*4/300 = 533ms. Remember, packet has to go from base station to sat to your residence then ACK has to go from your residence to sat to base station.

        Now add another 100+ms for you equipment latency and base station, and you have in excess of 650ms. And that's not accounting for even errors in trasmission.

        So yes, geostationary distance is most of the latency issue.

    • My guess would be better coverage of the intended area with fewer satellites. A geo-stationary orbit would yield constant coverage with a single satellite. Whereas in LEO, the satellite orbits every 90 minutes so it would be out of contact every 45 minutes (probably more) while it's on the other side of the earth, requiring more (expensive) satellites to be launched.

      As for ping times:
      LEO: ~350km (approx height of ISS) = 350km/c = 1.16ms * 2 = 2.32ms
      Geo-Stationary: ~35,000km = 35,000km/c = 0.116s * 2 = 0.23

    • A phased array antenna is substantially more expensive to make than a dish-and-horn. More electronics in it, and in particular more PIECES, which means more pick-and-place time.

      Economy of scale might bring it town to something comparable a couple years into a big deployment. But it will still cost a bunch extra at first - which is when you are trying to recover startup costs and simultaneously underbid the competition. And then you need a bunch of satellites rather than one or two.

      So a new player would f

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by schnell ( 163007 )

      Just how hard would it be to use a phased array antenna instead of a dish and track the orbit?

      The issue isn't so much that it's hard - nor is it for the convenience of the NSA like one of the Tinfoil Hat Brigade suggested elsewhere. It's cost and reliability.

      That fixed VSAT .75m or so dish you get installed outside your house for satellite TV or Internet is a reliable kit with no moving parts that costs at wholesale anywhere from $100 to $300 (excluding the satellite modem) for most configurations. (Some areas or situations require larger dishes that can run into the many hundreds or thousands of $$

      • Re:Why no LEO? (Score:4, Informative)

        by ArsenneLupin ( 766289 ) on Monday January 09, 2012 @06:15AM (#38635912)

        A phased array antenna, however, has LOTS of moving parts

        Maybe you don't quite understand how a phased array works... No physical movement is needed for repointing the antenna, but an apparent movement is done by introducing phase shifts between the various parts of the antenna surface. These phase shifts are introduced electronically, no physical movement needed.

        It also costs anywhere between $5000 and $30000 depending on your specifics

        Although such antennas are more expensive than normal fixed antennae (due to the additional electronics), the difference is nowhere as big as you make it.

        Some satellite providers are designing such phased array antennae right now, for the purpose of receiving from multiple orbital positions (formerly this has been done either by multiple antennae, or one dish with multiple LNBs). So, the technology can't be that expensive (once it is mass-produced), or else it would never be able to compete with multi-LNB dishes.

        especially given that you need to bump up the transmitter power vs. an equivalent GEO radio to get equivalent data rate

        A LEO satellite will be much nearer, thus less loss due to distance, so you'd actually need less transmitter power rather than more.

        Top that off with the fact that you're going to lose your connection everytime the LEO bird your dish was tracking goes over the horizon and it needs to lock onto a different satellite.

        Make it so that your system can lock on to several satellites at once, and you can start looking for the next satellite long before the previous one goes under the horizon.

        Never mind that I'm unaware of any commercial LEO data systems available today that provide greater than 9.6 kbps data rates...

        Probably, this has more to do with the fact that there are no mass-market LEO constellations available yet, and the few fringe players have to save costs due to their small user base.

        Once a major player gets into this market, prices will drop, and bitrates will go up.

  • Potentially useful. Does anyone have a link to a map detailing which areas of the earth are covered?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2012 @12:20AM (#38634620)

    As a Wildblue subscriber on the highest teer package, who gets slowed down to dialup speed a couple times a year for using more then 17 gigs in a month (yes that is the current highest residential cap) I've been following this story pretty close. There are a few facts that are definetly getting downplayed so far both here and in the Engadget piece. For one Viasat isn't just partnering with Wildblue, they now own them, or at least a pretty big share. And they have been talking this kind of speed since Viasat 1 was still in design, so even though it's great to see it in practice, that is nothing new. And most blatantly absent is the caps themselves. From all reports (not publicly confirmed, but much evidence to back up) the $50 package that he mentions will only be for 7.5 gigs combined down and up. The next level is 15 gigs combined down and up for $80, and the top tier is 25 gigs combined for $130. And after that it's $10 a gig, or a significant slow down, like they have now.

    You can find discussion about this on Wildblue's own forum

    Like I mentioned earlier, Viasat has been talking this up as a real competitor to DSL for quite some time, so many of us existing customers hoped (assumed) that that meant they would give us some realistic caps to go along with the speed, but it appears that is not the case. So although the speed bump is cool, remember that at the lowest level, 1 Netflix movie along with normal browsing will probably put you over for the whole month.

  • This story sounds familiar for some reason [].
  • I have outages at least once or twice a year, where I lose my power, cell phone, land line, cable and of course Internet. Power I can get around with a generator, but the others not so much. I don't miss the cable TV, but no phone service of any kind is definitely a problem when it last more than a few hours.

    I'd love a cheap plan that only let me subscribe when I needed it, no charges for a month I don't use the satellite, or at the very least a sub-$20 package that isn't fast or has a lot of data that I

  • What I find amusing is we are still in the stone age compared to Japan. They put up a satellite back in 2007 with minimum download of 100 Mbps to max of 1.2 Gbps download, depending on size of dish, and we are satisfied with a paltry 12- 25 Mbps. I install Netkaster & Xplornet systems up in Canadian arctic. We have to put up with download restrictions, actual data blockage and excessive monthly fees. I pay $150/month for only 2 Mbps with a 20 GB cap and $2/GB above cap. My download full speed is only av

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas