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Satellite Internet Service 

Advantages

  • Coverage anywhere in North America where you can "see" the satellite - this is a major advantage for some.
  • Faster and more reliable than many park wi-fi systems which are often overloaded
  • Manual systems can be inexpensive

Disadvantages

  • Very expensive relative to other access methods
  • Requires parking with a view of the satellite, so you have to carefully select campsites without obstructing trees, buildings, etc.
  • Manual systems require setup at each location
  • Upload speeds are slow
  • Latency (time for the signal to travel to/from the satellite) is a problem when heavily using secure (https) websites.
  • Daily download limits, for business use, you may pay a higher fee and obtain increased download limits.

Satellite internet systems all include a dish with LNB and amplifier, a mount the dish is attached to, and a modem.  Automatic systems also include a controller that points the dish for you.  The cost of these can vary widely.  Manual systems range in cost from $300 dollars for a "do it yourself" tripod system that you piece together on e-Bay to $1500 for a new, professionally built system.  Automatic systems might be purchased second hand for as little as $1000, and new units run $5,000 to $20,000 or more depending on the performance level you need and how much you're willing to spend.  This article is only a basic introduction.  You can learn much more by researching online, especially at the Datastorm Users Group website and forum. 

My system, was the basic model Datastorm F1, a fully automated satellite internet system from the MotoSat (company has now closed) company.  MotoSat originally used the dish and modem from HughesNet, along with their own mount and controller.  The most recent dish was of their own design.  When it works right, all you need to do is push a button and walk away, come back in 6 or 7 minutes and you're online.  Over the years HughesNet (DirecWay) has upgraded the service and equipment, and MotoSat upgraded their hardware.  I had one of the early F1 Datastorms, an upgraded 7000 series modem and a D2 controller.  We paid $79/mo and got download speeds in the 900 - 1600 kbps range, typically around 1200 kbps, and upload in the 90 to 180 kbps range, about 1/2 the time around 120kbps.  

 

Three photos, click for larger view below.  First two are the dish, 3rd photo shows the modem, controller (on bottom) and the Linksys Router (old photos of our original modem and router)

 

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Motosat Datastorm dish

 

The photo on the left is the new MotoSat G74.  On the right is a manual tripod system.

 

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