Internet Access by Satellite

By Kassel, Amelia | Online, July-August 1998 | Go to article overview

Internet Access by Satellite


Kassel, Amelia, Online


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-of-the-art as possible to meet user demand. For those of us who do not have T1 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 Guy--18-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. …

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