Magazine article Online

Internet Access by Satellite: How to Get It, How It Works

Magazine article Online

Internet Access by Satellite: How to Get It, How It Works

Article excerpt

In 1997, Internet research became a serious necessity in my daily work-a result of extraordinary growth in Web content during the past year. Although I had been slowly adapting during the previous two years, applications and client requests were growing. I was frustrated every time I fired up my browser, despite the fact that I had upgraded to a 33.3Kbps modem.

In early January 1997, I anxiously awaited the arrival of a 56Kbps upgrade, but when it became available, my Internet provider didn't have the faster capacity-and still doesn't. I continued to watch my monthly journals, anxiously scanning articles and advertisements, watching for a solution to save the day and ease my burden.

THE SATELLITE SOLUTION

Soon I found myself on the way to the answer-the Internet via satellite, by way of the Hughes Network Systems DirecPC satellite dish. Lloyd Case and Dave Salvator describe satellite technology as "exotic" [1]. I began to believe, however, that it was really down to earth. My appetite was whetted when Nancy Herther talked about "dishing out the data" [2]. She described the Hughes DirecPC service for consumer markets as "enabling subscribers to receive real-time news, live video feeds, new PC software, and Internet files at a rate of 12 megabits per second."

I can't tell you how excited I was when one joyful day, I saw a magazine ad about Hughes DirecPC satellite dishes. I learned that a satellite dish would make it possible to download data at the rate of 400Kbps-more than three times faster than ISDN, which I had investigated and disregarded as complicated and expensive.

In the August 1997 PC World, Scott Spanbauer explains that,

Satellite systems are for people who are desperate for bandwidth-super Web surfers who live so far from civilization that they don't have access to ISDN or other options. Hughes Network Systems' DirecPC is the only end-user satellite system available right now. To deliver information, the DirecPC software intercepts the data coming to you and then forwards it over your satellite [3].

Although I was desperate for bandwidth, I also believe that information professionals must be among the first to obtain fast access to the Net. We are rapidly becoming regular and heavy users, and any real pro must have equipment as close to state-ofthe-art as possible to meet user demand. For those of us who do not have Ti lines, which cost approximately $2,000 to install and at least $200 per month, Hughes DirecPC offers a very acceptable remedy.

THE SATELLITE GUY

As I was driving down a highway, I noticed a sign on a shack-like building that said, "The Satellite Guy18-inch Dishes and Internet Connections." I was interested. Before stopping in, I contacted a knowledgeable telecom infopro to find out what he knew. Since I had seen a fair amount of advertising about satellite television, I was especially curious to know whether I could get one dish for both TV and PC. Who wants two dishes on their roof? I learned that Hughes had recently released the Hughes DirecPC Duo, one dish with both functions. Perfect.

The next time I passed the Satellite Guy's shop, I went in, asked a few questions, and purchased the Duo. The 21-inch satellite dish retailed for $995 in the fall of 1997. You can shop around for better prices today. Check Satellite City (http:// www.satellitecity.com), for example, where you will find prices starting at $299 for DirecPC and several options for the DirecPC Duo, ranging from $399 to $699.

The professional installation, one week later, added an extra $350, which included a dedicated line for the pay-per-view television selections that are available from DirecTV. The installer set up the dish and wired it to my TV and PC. He also installed a card in my computer, and handed me the Hughes DirecPC software on CD to install myself.

The software configuration was a little more difficult than I anticipated and I required help from Hughes' technical support who patiently walked me through the process. …

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