2-Way Internet Satellite FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions about 2-way Satellite Internet
Eric Schaub
Product Centre: Telecommunications

1. How does 2-way Satellite Internet work?

Clients using 2-way Satellite Internet service connect to the internet via an Earth Station consisting of a parabolic microwave antenna -- a satellite dish with receiving and transmitting capabilities. The earth station sends and receives signals to a satellite in geostationary orbit around the Earth. The satellite communicates with another earth station which is connected to the Internet. 2-way satellite communication means no other terrestrial links are required -- no phone line needed.

2. How fast is it?

There are several service options with varying monthly fees. Average download speeds are 400 kbps and often bursts at over 2000 kbps. Average upload speeds are generally 50-150 kbps, but an optional 256 kbps upload service is also available. In general, satellite download speeds are about 2 times faster than cable or DSL, but upload speeds are 2-3 times slower. Lots of little files take longer to download than one big one.

3. Can I install it myself?

Professional installation is required by Industry Canada, FCC and other telecommunications governance bodies. Since the satellite dish can transmit to any satellite in space, it is important to position it properly. It is possible to disrupt the wrong satellite by an improperly aligned satellite dish. Because the satellite dish is a powerful microwave antenna, it must be installed professionally to protect satellites in space and people on the ground.

4. Can I purchase 2-way satellite service in one country and move the system to another country?

Since professional installation is required to put up a 2-way satellite dish, moving the dish can only be done by a certified technician. Moving the dish without consulting your service provider first could result in cancellation of service -- the service provider can tell if the dish has been moved. Also, service outside Canada or the US is restricted -- some countries will allow only certain dishes into the country depending on agreements they have with service providers and the International Telecommunications Union. Direcway has different equipment for international use and often a different satellite is used for service in other countries. Always consult your service provider before moving your dish to another location.

5. How much does it cost?

2-Way Satellite systems in Canada and the US are around $650 US including installation with a basic monthly fee of around $69 US. Systems in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean are higher in cost -- usually around $2000 US after shipping, duties, license, and installation. Residential customers outside of Canada and the US will receive the Business Edition of Direcway which is faster, has higher download limits, and usually points to a different satellite than North American residential clients. The Basic Business Edition costs $89 US per month.

6. Am I always connected?

For the most part, Yes. Weather conditions can temporarily disrupt satellite communications, but often do not last long.

7. Is there a limit to how much I can download?

There is a daily download limit which is 'refilled' at 56 kbps. For US/Canada residential service, the threshold is 169 megs. For the Business Edition, daily service throughput is available in 500MB, 800MB and 1000MB increments. Once the daily limit has been reached, throughput speeds are reduced to 56 kbps (100 kbps for Plus service). Actually the daily limit is higher because you are always 'recharging' your limit at 56K. If you download 100 megs, then your limit is reduced by 100 megs, but it refills at 56K so when you stop downloading, the limit gradually fills up again. Usually within 8-12 hours the limit is returned to the daily threshold. Click here to view Direcway's Fair Access Policy.

8. Can I share my satellite connection?

Yes, you can connect a home or office network to the satellite connection. The DW4020 model allows 5 ethernet connections. You can also use Windows Internet Connection Sharing or a proxy server to route through the satellite dish (this is necessary if using the DW4000).

9. Can I 'stream' music and video over the satellite connection?

Yes, you can stream music and video using Windows Media Player, Quick Time, and RealPlayer.

10. Can I use instant messaging with voice and video?

Usually, yes. However, slower upload speeds from the satellite dish often cause a little delay. Getting an optional fixed IP address or subscribing to the 256K upload service can significantly improve performance. 1.2 meter dish required for 256K upload.

11. Is Voice-over-IP (VoIP) supported?

While it is possible to do Voice-Over-IP over the satellite connection, results can be mixed. New Voice-over-IP (VoIP) service is expected in 2004 from Direcway and Net2Phone with the DW6040 Voice Appliance -- it connects to either the DW6000 or DW4020. 3rd party solutions are also available.

12. Do I need a license?

According to Industry Canada, FCC, and most other countries, you do require some type of license since you are operating a 2-way microwave radio antenna. The license usually costs around $50-100US a year. Some countries, like Belize, require a telecommunications license before allowing you to pass your dish through Customs.

13. How easy is it to import a 2-way Satellite system into other countries?

Most Central American countries like Mexico, Belize, and Honduras have restrictions on importing satellite internet. Since most US companies are not authorized by Hughes to sell the service outside the US, many countries require that you buy your dish from their list of authorized suppliers -- or they won't let them in through Customs. License fees and import duty are required. It is sometimes possible to 'sneak' them through Customs and avoid those costs, but they will not think twice about seizing the dish if they catch you -- or even think they have caught you. There is significant corruption and incompetence in governments 'south of the border' and even while trying to do everything by the book, there always seem to be unexpected obstacles in the way. TELEMANAGE is authorized to sell the Direcway Business Edition throughout Central America and we are authorized by Hughes to sell and install Direcway in Central America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the States.

14. Where is Direcway 2-Way Internet Satellite available?

Direcway satellite coverage extends from Canada to Central America. The Direcway coverage map on the left is a conservative estimate of the size dish needed for the area. These sizes are recommended for commercial installations. Realistically, smaller dishes will work outside some of the fringe areas, but Direcway recommends the bigger dishes because they are more reliable in bad weather.

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