EarthLink launches satellite Internet service

ISP (Internet service provider) EarthLink launched satellite Internet services on Tuesday, offering broadband connections using satellite dishes to customers in the Northeast and Northwest U.S., the company announced.

EarthLink Satellite, powered by DirecPC, uses a 2-foot-by-3-foot dish made by Hughes Electronics to connect to the Internet at download speeds of up to 400K bps (bits per second) and upload speeds of up to 128K bps, a public relations spokesman for the company said. The service uses the satellite dish to both receive and send data, rather than simply receiving downloads while a phone line sends information.

Unlike DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) or cable Internet access, satellite service is available anywhere in the U.S. that offers an unobstructed view of the southern sky, making it attractive to consumers unable to be served by a landline broadband Internet provider. However, the dish costs US$649, plus installation fees of $250 and subscription fees of $70 per month.

A dual-purpose dish capable of receiving both Internet transmission and digital TV signals costs an additional $30 for equipment and an additional $75 for professional installation, plus satellite TV subscription fees from DirecTV Inc. of $22 to $82 monthly.

Earthlink intends to roll out the satellite services nationwide by the end of May.

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