What is satellite broadband? An easy beginner’s guide for businesses
The connectivity needs of businesses today are evolving. If your business isn’t online, how do you expect to push your name, product, or service to a new audience?
For some businesses, this simply isn’t possible — particularly in more rural areas where broadband services are extremely limited or aren’t even available. This is where satellite broadband comes into play.
This revolutionary technology is helping businesses out in the sticks connect with customers, old and new, to get their name out there. Learn more about satellite broadband and its benefits for your business with this handy Bionic guide.
What is satellite broadband?
Rather than relying on a vast network of wires and cables, satellite broadband relies on signals sent from a satellite orbiting the Earth.
It can provide broadband to businesses in rural areas — such as farms hoping to sell their stock online — that would usually be unable to access traditional broadband services since they operate in more hard-to-reach areas.
How does satellite broadband work?
Unlike traditional broadband, satellite broadband beams the transmission down from space to a dish attached to your business’s property. Essentially, this form of broadband works similarly to satellite TV, except those services just receive information.
On the other hand, a satellite broadband connection also sends out — or uploads — data to the satellite. Satellites in space act as the ‘middleman,’ transmitting signals between the ground station and the dish. The dish then emits signals to the Wi-Fi router installed within the business.
How reliable is satellite broadband?
For businesses in rural areas, satellite internet is often a more readily available option than other internet types like fibre.
Since satellite broadband is still relatively new, its technology will continue to expand — and so will its reliability. While it tends to be slower compared to other broadband options, it is a more reliable option for businesses, particularly if other types of internet infrastructure aren’t available in your area.
How fast is satellite broadband?
Currently, most satellite broadband options use radio waves, which travel at a significantly slower rate compared to light waves, which is what most broadband options use.
The use of radio waves can mean there’s a delay in transmitting information since the signal has to travel from space to Earth. This can be bad news for businesses that need to upload or download a lot of files or companies that use VoIP, as this can cause delays and often result in frustrating lag.
Services vary, but most satellite internet download speeds range from 12Mbps to 35Mbps.
What businesses would benefit from satellite internet?
Satellite internet can be a powerful tool to help otherwise struggling businesses connect to their customers.
Some industries that could benefit from satellite internet include:
- Energy and utility companies — Including smart grids, solar plants, and other renewable energy plants.
- Retail and hospitality — Such as pubs in more rural areas as well as distribution warehouses, campsites, hotels, and remote tourist sites.
- Construction and mining — Landfill and mining sites, remotely managed construction, roads, railways, and infrastructure operations.
- Agriculture — Including farming, horticulture, animal husbandry, and forestry.
- Banking and insurance — Remote offices, cash machines, digitised banking.
- Civil services — Schools, administration networks, public entities, universities and hospitals.
If your business is a long way from both a telephone exchange and the green roadside cabinets, satellite internet may be your only feasible option.
What are the advantages of satellite internet?
If you’re faced with the need for 24/7 connectivity, there are a whole host of reasons why satellite internet can take your business to the next level.
Since satellites don’t have a physical connection to the ground — and it doesn’t require miles of cabling — satellite broadband is a great option for businesses that operate in notorious blackspots, like in the countryside.
Satellite coverage means fewer restrictions on the areas it can reach, unlike cable broadband, which will need a wired connection to your business.
Satellite internet can go anywhere, which means it can also be obtained through different portable and mobile devices.
This is an excellent advantage for companies as it allows you to carry out your business activities, such as VoIP calls, access emails, and more while on the move.
Quick installation and more eco-friendly
Satellite internet doesn't require the construction of a tower or underground cables to work, which means it's less invasive to the environment and won’t impact the landscape as other forms of broadband do.
In addition to this, satellite broadband antennas can be installed within a couple of hours and should be no more disruptive than it would be for a satellite TV installation! They can then be set up and connected to the internet in less than 10 minutes, meaning you can have access to the internet immediately.
What are the disadvantages of satellite broadband?
While it has its advantages, satellite broadband also comes with its disadvantages.
Download and upload speeds
Although unlimited broadband has become the norm with wired internet, broadband via satellite usually has a data limit.
When you reach your data limit, you may be left without connectivity until your next billing cycle. You may also find extra charges on your account for additional data and face drastically reduced speeds. This means you’ll have to think carefully about how much you'll need to download and upload each month before you commit to a contract.
Some contracts may offer unlimited off-peak periods during the day, but it’s best to always shop around and ensure you’re getting the best deal. If you’re looking for a new broadband deal, get in touch with the tech-enabled experts at Bionic, who can sort you out in no time. Or, find out more about download and upload speeds with our guide.
Latency — also known as lag — is a common complaint that plagues satellite broadband users. This is due to the time it takes the signal to get to and from the satellite.
While it might not be too noticeable when you’re simply browsing the internet, it can cause real problems if you’re trying to do anything a little bit more strenuous like video calls or streaming.
Can the weather affect satellite broadband?
With satellite internet, the weather can play a big part in the effectiveness of your business's day-to-day running.
Rain and wind
Since satellite internet works by making use of radio waves, the energy that’s required to transmit data communications can be absorbed by water molecules in the air. As such, when the UK faces heavy rains or thunderstorms, your satellite signal will be weaker.
Wind-blowing heavy rain may also mean that you can lose signal for a short time, although it’s more likely that you’ll have intermittent service instead.
Snow and ice
When snow falls and settles on a satellite dish, it can cause more problems than rain. Similarly to rain, snow will soak up energy from satellite transmission. But, unlike rainfall, snow doesn’t drain away as quickly, meaning that blockages can be more severe.
Although bad weather can push your satellite dish out of alignment, you’ll be pleased to know that heat shouldn’t cause any difficulties.
Can satellite broadband run out of bandwidth?
Yes, a satellite provider can run out of bandwidth in certain locations. This is because all data has to pass through the satellite that’s serving a particular area, and it can only process a certain amount of data at the same time. If an additional request comes in, the satellite isn’t able to process everything at once, resulting in speeds slowing to the point where they’re no longer functional.
Get your business broadband set with Bionic
Wrapping your head around satellite broadband can sometimes be challenging, but knowing that it can be your answer to getting your business online means that it’s worth it.
If you need more help understanding business connectivity, head over to our connectivity guide pages for more information. Or, get in touch today with the Bionic team to discuss your business connectivity needs, including business broadband and VoIP.