29 Oct 2012

A Caution on Satellite Broadband for Remote Communities

Avonline and Tooway are offering satellite broadband at prices that are reasonably close to those available in cities for a superficially similar service. They are extremely attractive for rural areas where there appears to be no real alternative. The purpose of this note is to set out some of the problems with satellite offerings.

Further technical documentation shows that Scotland is relatively poorly served by existing satellites. It is on the fringe of coverage and has rather low aggregated available bandwidth.

To summarise: Satellite may be useful as a stop-gap solution, and will be useful for short-term ad hoc connections; but unless terrestrial infrastructure is improved, be prepared to be relatively worse off in five years time than you are now. Also, look carefully at the price you will end up paying and the performance you will be getting. The alternative of community broadband projects, although they require an investment of effort, deliver better performance at lower costs with lasting improvements to the infrastructure.

Peter Buneman
University of Edinburgh & Tegola

Michael Fourman
University of Edinburgh & RSE Digital Scotland report

Simon Helliwell
Eigg & HebNet

David Newton
Knoydart & Knoydart Foundation

William Waites
University of Stirling & Network Engineer, HUBS

comments powered by Disqus