Satellite Broadband, Down Under


With summer almost here in the northern hemisphere, our thoughts are turning to long afternoons and evenings spent around the barbecue and the neighborhood pool.

But in the southern hemisphere, of course, it’s the winter solstice that is approaching on June 21st. That means long nights at home, waiting for warmer weather — and brighter days — to return.

The good news for southern hemisphere residents, however, is that internet via satellite is often far cheaper than it is here. That means that they can surf the night away while still squirreling away enough cash to make it through winter.

In New Zealand, for example, Internet via satellite can now be had for as little as $38 a month:

Satellite broadband wholesaler Bay City Communications is launching a rural broadband service, called Rocket Broadband, today.

The IPSTAR satellite, owned by Thaicom, covers all of New Zealand, says Bay City managing director Tony Baird.

The company is offering three plans — Explorer, Discovery and Voyager. At $49.95 (excluding GST) per month, the Explorer plan offers a 256Kbit/s downlink and 128Kbit/s up, with a 500MB data cap…..

Across the Tasman, the Australian government’s Broadband Guarantee Program offers eligible consumers access to subsidised broadband with a guaranteed minimum level of service. The Australian government pays $2,500 per installation of the satellite broadband and that has greatly helped uptake over there, says Phil Cross, business development manager of IPSTAR Australia.

The article cites the advantages that satellite broadband can bring to rural residents, such as "reduced fuel costs and time savings thanks to online banking and online shopping… social inclusion and the ability to network online, do email and participate in video-conferencing, as well as distance education and research online for school children." Bay City and IPSTAR are also making life better for New Zealand’s farmers.

IPSTAR uses spot beams to improve efficiency of their services:



 The IPSTAR system is comprised of a gateway earth station communicating over the IPSTAR satellite to provide broadband packet-switched communications to a large number of small terminals with network star configuration.

A wide-band data link from the gateway to the user terminal uses an Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) with a Time Division Multiplex (TDM) overlay. These forward channels employ highly efficient transmission methods including Turbo Product Code (TPC) and higher order modulation (L-codes) for increased system performance.

In the terminal to gateway direction or return link, the narrow-band channels employ the same efficient transmission methods. These narrow-band channels operate in different multiple-access modes based on bandwidth usage behavior, including Slotted-ALOHA, ALOHA, and TDMA for STAR return link waveform.  

There’s no doubt that satellite internet has plenty of room to grow in remote New Zealand and the wide-open spaces of Australia. And it’s growth that IPSTAR is likely to achieve, with clever ads like this one propelling their marketing strategy in the far east:


As well, Australia’s Broadband Guarantee Program (mentioned above) provides a steady source of revenues for expanding satellite broadband.  

Whether such a program ever takes hold in the United States depends on the outcome of the net neutrality debate. And with the heat of summer getting to us here, it’s unlikely that that debate will stop raging anytime soon.