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"High Speed Web Access Via Satellite" 

While the media spends a great deal of time discussing the use of high speed internet access, they often stop after talking about troubles in the DSL industry or how the use of cable modems is going to quadruple in the next few year. This leaves a very important third segment of the industry, those that utilize Satellite based services for their Internet access, without much fanfare. With many users geographically unable to subscribe to the aforementioned options, StarBand Communications (formerly Gilat-To-Home) is hoping to capitalize on this underserved market by offering similar Internet speeds at a comparable price.

Starband is not the first company to offer the service. In fact, DirecPC has long been available for users looking for high speed access. However, until recently, DirecPC required a standard phone line to send data to the Internet whereas StarBand has always been two-way service. That is, it sends and receives data through a satellite antenna and is always connected to the Internet.

The transfer rates of a typical StarBand setup places subscribers somewhere between cable
and DSL on downloads although uploads speeds are slower. During testing, download speeds
have averaged well over 500 Kbps at the maximum and 200 Kbps during the busiest access
times. As was previously stated, the upload speeds are slower and come it at about 50

StarBand service can be purchased from RadioShack or directly from StarBand
(www.starband.com). The dish is relatively small and can be used for Internet access and
DishNetwork programming. The installation, which takes about 3 hours, requires trained
service personnel and is included in the cost of purchasing the equipment. The only requirements are that you have a fairly modern PC and a clear line of sight to one of the satellites.

Although I have not yet seen this, itís possible that during heavy rain or snowfall, your access rates may not be as good. Iíve used the system successfully through some very heavy rains without any noticeable differences in service. Generally speaking, downloads occur at between 400 to 600 Kbps and in certain situations, Iíve notice much higher speeds. During recent tests at several web sites that measure download speeds, the StarBand system averaged in the top 10 to 20 % of all Internet activity. Thatís very good considering that it was the only Satellite system being ranked with the other systems being cable, DSL or even T1 lines.

As was mentioned earlier, the upload speeds are much less impressive. They tend to offer
speeds in the range of 40 to 70 Kbps, topping out at about 100 Kbps. This is only a problem during uploading files to a web site or perhaps emailing very large attachments. Because high speed access is generally limited to certain geographical areas, the StarBand service is one that should attract some attention from a very large share of the market.

 - by Clayton Crooks

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