Satellite broadband could soon be providing internet access at speeds of up to 10Mb across the UK - even if you live in a remote area where you can't currently get fixed-line or mobile broadband.
Satellite broadband deals
Unlike standard internet connections, satellite broadband does not require wires or cable to connect your home to the internet. There are currently three main providers of satellite broadband in the UK: Tariam, Eutelsat and Astra.
Is satellite broadband for me?
While satellite broadband download speeds in the UK are currently only up 3.6Mb, this should increase to an up to 10Mb offering by the end of 2010, when Eutelsat completes its latest internet satellite developments.
Download allowances are also much lower than a fixed-line connection, with typical allowances of only around 2.4GB on the cheapest packages, and only going up to around 12GB a month on the most expensive options - which cost more than £100 a month.
Satellite broadband is also far less reliable, making it an unsuitable option for fast-paced applications like online gaming or internet television services.
However, the major upside of satellite broadband is that it eliminates the need to be connected to the UK's fixed-line network - a problem for many people living in remote parts of the UK. Because you receive your broadband signal via a satellite, it doesn't matter how far you are from the local telephone exchange or mobile phone mast - allowing even those in broadband "not-spots" to finally get online.
What should I know about satellite broadband?
To get satellite broadband you will need to have a satellite dish installed, as well as a transmitter in order to send data. The initial installation cost is expensive no matter which provider you choose, ranging from around £300 for self-installation and up to around £700 or more if you want the receive to be installed by a professional. You'll also face a connection fee of around £30 with most suppliers.
On top of the high set-up costs, monthly satellite broadband costs are also more expensive than a fixed-line or mobile broadband connection, costing from between £20 and £35 a month for the most basic packages.
One minor concern for satellite broadband users is that your connection may be affected by extreme weather conditions. However, Eutelsat's broadband is transmitted at a very high frequency so disturbances are unlikely, and if you're in the Outer Hebrides during a hurricane, a poor broadband connection is going to be the least of your worries anyway.
The verdict on satellite broadband
Satellite broadband installation costs are much higher than conventional fixed-line broadband. However, satellite broadband may provide a solution to those who can't get a broadband connection through a copper or cable line.