There has been a lot of press coverage lately about a new option for getting online if you’re too far away from a cable internet connection and if DSL isn’t a viable source. Just like with satellite tv, this satellite version of getting on the internet relies on sending signals into space and back again to provide coverage just about anywhere on the whole planet, not just in the United States. In short, it’s a great and incredible option for those who previously didn’t have a way to get online, or for anyone whose only option was the increasingly slow and impossible-to-use dial-up.
But before making the switch to satellite internet, it’s helpful to understand how the technology works. Here is a simple how-to that explains exactly what goes on from the reaches of space to your very living room. Best of all, unlike other sources, that try to over complicate things with technical terms and difficult concepts, anyone will be able to understand this.
First, it helps to understand what a satellite actually does, and how it differs from other options for getting online. Unlike terrestrial services, which rely on connections that are based on the ground, like telephone lines or cable systems, satellites transmit information between satellites. The dish that you put in your backyard or on your roof is actually just a miniature version of the one in outer space, designed to receive and transmit information long distances and deliver it promptly.
Now that the concept is clear, it’s important to actually understand the execution. Two-way communication is possible, meaning that the data streams back and forth between the two different points, often at a very rapid speed considering the distance. Since most satellites are close to the equator, when setting up your dish, or when having a technician set up your dish, it is important to make sure that it is facing south, where the signals will be coming from. Other than this, choosing a dish is entirely up to the owner. You can opt for a larger one, which provides for more chances of getting reception during a storm, or you can just go with whatever the free standard is that your satellite internet company might be offering along with service.
The actual way that information moves back and forth between your dish and satellites in space is thanks to a particular type of communication technology called Internet Protocol multicasing. This means that there’s no waiting in line to have data reach your dish from a satellite that is handling thousands of other requests, as the system is configured to handle a great deal of access without getting overloaded or dropping someone’s signal. Because the signals are passing through space to earth, often there is a lot less of a limit on the amount of bandwidth that an individual user has, whereas with things like cable, limitations are often imposed because service itself is limited due to the devices being used.
As part of your devices, besides the dish, you’re going to need a modem that attaches to your computer. The modem will receive signals from the dish, just like with cable, you receive signals to your modem through the cable itself. Just like with regular modems for other delivery methods, a satellite internet modem is easy to set up. It’s also easy to reset if there are any connectivity problems: simply unplug the device and switch it on again to start the connection and avoid whatever hiccup was causing the trouble in the first place.