Broadband Internet

Satellite

Satellite is often touted as an alternative to fixed-line access such as cable or ADSL, but it does have limitations and in Australia, is yet to offer the same sort of data speeds. Despite that, satellite has succeeded in providing much faster and often more reliable Internet service, particularly in rural and regional areas, than the standard public system telephone network.

There are two types of satellite services you can use: asynchronous and synchronous. Similar to the asymmetrical DSL service, asynchronous means that there are different speeds for upstream and downstream traffic (again, downstream is faster than upstream).

Synchronous satellite services on the other hand, have the same speed for upstream as for downstream, which makes it more suitable to services that are heavily impacted by delays, like video and audio streaming.

Generally these satellite technologies work on one of two principles:

- Data is downloaded from the satellite to a terrestrial base station and from the base station to the consumer by microwave link. The consumer requires a receiving dish or antenna and a standard phone modem for uploading data to the base station and from there to the satellite.

- Data is downloaded directly to the consumer's satellite dish but a phone modem is still required to upload data to a terrestrial base station and to the satellite.

Data download speeds for consumer systems vary, though you can expect it to be up to 20 times faster then standard dial-up. Speeds can be affected by traffic volume and even bad weather, and costs vary considerably depending on the carrier.

Wireless

Visit our buying guide on wireless broadband services here

Wireless broadband services are centred around the IEEE 802.11 standard.

Lucent Technologies, Nortel Networks and Symbol Technologies worked with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE; www. ieee.org) to create the IEEE 802.11 specification for use with wireless area networks. There are currently four specifications in the family: 802.11, 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g.

The most widely deployed of these today is 802.11b (often called Wi-Fi), which runs on the public 2.4GHz spectrum and is capable of data speeds of up to 11Mbps over a range of up to 150m.

This data-only system utilises a small base station connected to a wired network or to the Internet and transmits data wirelessly to multiple workstations, which can be desktops, notebooks or even handheld PCs. Each base station can service several users equipped with wireless receiver cards in their computer, and base stations can be overlapped to allow several hundred users to access the network or Internet.

802.11g is currently the most prominent wireless standard for PCs and notebooks, but a new standard, 802.11 draft-n, is faster, can transmit further and is slowly making inroads on the portable market. Some notebooks now come with 802.11 draft-n capabilities built-in.



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