Online Anywhere

Spring 2005 CSANews Issue 54  |  Posted date : May 17, 2007.Back to list

Internet on a dish?
Yes, it's true. However, that satellite dish you have been using to "steal" Canadian broadcast signals while you are in the southern United States cannot be used to get online. This is an entirely different system and for the time being means having a separate dish to transmit and receive signals. Your traditional satellite dish is only designed to receive signals. In order to surf the net you have to transmit as well as receive. There are some satellite Internet service providers affiliated with satellite television signal providers that offer combined service, but their marketing material is full of disclaimers and recommendations to use separate dishes. Currently, by combining the functional services, the signals are weakened and you will either compromise your television signal or your Internet speed. The bottom line is, this is new technology and they just aren't "there" yet.

The cost
The initial investment is large. Again, new technology means new high price (remember calculators in the seventies, compact disc players in the eighties and DVD players in the nineties?). Satellite transmission equipment is expensive in the millennium. To purchase your basic home system you are looking at about $600 to start, with monthly payments of $60 – $99 depending on the service provider and the service plan you choose. As an alternative, some service providers do offer the option to sign up for several months and get the initial hardware for no extra charge, but, we will leave that decision up to you.

Is it the same as my current Internet service?
In this instance we have reached the middle-ground. It is faster than dial-up service and slower than traditional wired high-speed service. Download speed is boasted between 500 – 750 Kbps (kilo bytes per second) and upload speed is still relatively slow at 128 kbps. What does that mean to you? Well, standard dial-up Internet service (over the phone line) operates at about 56 kbps and your high speed wired in service (Bell Sympatico or Rogers) operates at 3000 kbps for uploading and downloading functions. So, when you are downloading those pictures that your friends or family sent you, it won't take too long. In fact, if you are accustomed to dial-up service, it will be a lot faster than you are used to. For example, downloading a song will take two minutes with high-speed satellite where it may have taken ten minutes or longer over a standard phone line connection. Pulling up a web page takes a few seconds instead of a minute. Some people may not consider this extremely important, but, in this age of instant gratification, it has certainly made this service desirable and relevant to many.

Where is this service useful?
If you spend your summers in the rural regions of Canada, high-speed Internet service may not be available to you...yet. In the same manner that you cannot necessarily get cable service everywhere in Canada, so to is the plight of high-speed hard wired Internet service. This may also be the case with your winter home, but perhaps less likely.

The natural fit for these systems is definitely the Recreational Vehicle. Once you have parked your vehicle for the night, day, week, or whatever, with your trusty Internet dish affixed to the exterior of the vehicle, systems equipped with automatic directional devices track the satellite position in the sky and turn the dish into position for optimal signal strength in a matter of minutes. In the amount of time it takes to pull out the awning and set up the lawn chairs, your high-speed Internet will be up and running. So go forth, explore the world and stay online.

Where can you get it?

Ground Control


(affiliated with
DirecTV in the US)