Satellite broadband still nascent despite subsidies

Wireless broadband may be experiencing rapid uptake, but research has found high-speed satellite remains stagnant despite government incentives.

According to reports from analyst Market Clarity, Positioning Satellite, and Setting the scene for Wireless, 33 Internet service providers out of a total of 556 offer satellite broadband while 129 provide wireless broadband.

Market Clarity CEO Shara Evans said while satellite can reach remote areas, not all services offer uploading.

"Not all satellite services are two-way, so a terrestrial service is needed to send e-mail which undermines the reason for getting satellite," Evans said.

"There is a problem with [latency] and propagation delays; there is a set speed that [electromagnetic radiation] can travel using geospatial orbit, so conversation can be affected using VoIP, whereas a terrestrial line [is faster] so you don't have those problems."

"Also, the cost of satellite dishes can be expensive, up to 10 times the cost of an ADSL modem, which is where government subsidies [Broadband Connect] come in handy."

She said take-up of satellite broadband would be higher if people knew the subsidies brought its cost closer to city ADSL prices.

According to the report, more than 83 percent of wireless ISPs offer regional services and there are 56 percent more wireless broadband infrastructure owners regionally than in cities.

"In metropolitan areas, ISPs have wholesale wireless service options to choose from, which saves them the expense and effort of deploying their own infrastructure, [whereas] in rural locations an ISP may have no choice but to deploy its own fixed wireless services," Evans said.

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