Fixed Wireless Broadband Vs Satellite Broadband – Explained……
Throughout the UK, rural communities and businesses have long been the forgotten child of Superfast and Ultrafast broadband and fibre Internet connections, with many locations ‘lucky’ to receive ADSL speeds of around 1Mbps download and much less available for uploading data. There are, however some options available to improve the Internet experience. The current alternatives to copper and fibre cabled broadband services are Satellite Broadband, Elon Musk’s Starlink Web (not fully available) and a less known Superfast and Ultrafast technology known as Fixed Wireless Access, sometimes known as Fibre to the Mast (FTTM).
Satellite Broadband – pro’s and cons
The single biggest thing in favour of Satellite Internet is its global coverage, generally as long as you have a clear line of sight to the southern sky (where the satellite will be).
Rather than relying on a network of broadband wires or cables, satellite broadband is transmitted wirelessly via a satellite dish. It works in a similar way to satellite TV, except those services just receive information. With a satellite broadband connection, you also send out – or upload – data to the satellite. Satellite broadband is more expensive than standard wired services. You’ll no longer need a phone line as the service doesn’t rely on the phone network.
Prices tend to start at around £20 a month, rising to more than £100. However, the cheapest packages come with very small data allowances – often as little as 2GB a month. This won’t allow you to do much more than the odd bit of web browsing or emailing. You’ll also need to factor in the price of Satellite hardware either upfront or spread over the cost of your contract. The price can really rise when you your data requirements rise through use of data-heavy services like streaming video services like Netflix, YouTube and online gaming platforms etc. Also real time activities such as voice and video calls via Zoom, Teams, Skype & Facetime can really suffer on satellite services due to the latency of the satellite solution. Although services are available from 2Mbps to 20Mbps, speed is not everything and with its high latency, the ‘laggy’ and delayed user experience deem these real time applications almost unusable and very frustrating.
In summary, Satellite Broadband certainly has its place in the market, however it’s limitations and high cost mean that you should investigate other options such as Fibre to the Mast Fixed Wireless Access services.
Starlink, a satellite Ultrafast service has recently confirmed that their new constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) based ultrafast broadband satellites is “now available in parts of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England,” which is in addition to existing service areas across southern England.
At present SpaceX has already launched around 1,200 LEOs into orbit (space) around the earth and their initial ambition is to deploy a total of 4,425 by 2024, which could potentially be followed by up to 12,000 at a later date (possibly late 2026). The service has already gone live in the USA, Canada, parts of the UK and is now extending into Europe, albeit mostly still in the beta and early pre-order phase.
It’s worth noting that where there is a rural area adjacent to an urban area, the satellite will most likely be covering both areas, meaning high contention and slow speeds. For example, if there is a high take up in Bournemouth and Poole this will likely be covering The Purbecks at the same time.
UK Pricing is currently £439 for hardware, with monthly costs at £89 and £54 shipping fee.
Fixed Wireless Access – Fibre to the Mast (FTTM) – A far superior solution … if you are in the service area
Available from Juice Broadband, a Poole based ISP in Dorset, Fixed Wireless Access is a growing technology which is gaining popularity due to the fast, low latency, uncontended bandwidth it delivers to end users. Often thought of as ‘Ethernet in the air’ many businesses use the service as a primary leased line type connection as well as a truly resilient back up service to traditional fibre Ethernet services delivered in the ground via cables. The service is available for both residential and businesses that have line of sight to a local transmission tower from their property.. No phone line is required as the service is delivered via a small dish located with line of sight back to our transmission towers, with VoIP phones being connected through the supplied router, which also gives a Wi-Fi connection. We also supply whole home Wi-Fi mesh extension kits for larger homes, office’s may benefit from wires solutions.
Residential prices start at just £30 per month including VAT with 100Gb data usage per month and Business Services have an entry level of £50 Per month + VAT. Hardware is usually include free of charge for multi-year contracts.
Our towers are generally fed by physical fibre connection which either connects back to our main data centre based on the south coast, or to another part of the network core. We call this ‘back-haul’, once we have collected your data locally, we ‘haul’ it over our private connections to deliver it to the internet. In the very rare event of a failure the network can switch to alternative feeds, so that no one site is completely reliant on one connection to the core network.
The towers use FWA to talk to our customers, the frequency bands in use are not affected by bad weather, such as rain (where heavy rain can cause the signal to degrade) and it also ‘scatters’ well, this means we can sometimes provide a service where you would not think it possible!
We use a variety of 5GHz and 24GHz links for our back-haul, for redundancy, or where a physical connection is not possible.