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Experiences with DirecWay Satellite Internet 771

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the had-it-up-to-here-with-56k dept.
Since moving outside Ann Arbor almost 2 years ago, I've had only a 56k modem to tether my home to the net. Cable, DSL and ISDN are impossible in my location. DirecWay now offers the DW6000, which appears to be an operating system agnostic router for satellite internet access. I already use DirecTV, so this might work well. I'm aware of the game crippling latency, but that's not a huge deal to me. The monthly price seems reasonable, but is there a catch? I'm abusing my power as Slashdot editor to ask for experiences with this (or similiar) services. Does it bog down during the day? Not work with common hardware? Hidden costs? Does it cost a fortune for the required professional installation? Is ssh completely unusable?
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Experiences with DirecWay Satellite Internet

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  • No way (Score:5, Funny)

    by mr.henry (618818) * on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:03PM (#8089862) Journal
    WTF.. the editor of Slashdot is on dialup?
    • by RLiegh (247921) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:04PM (#8089893) Homepage Journal
      why he doesn't read his own site ;-)

      -anonymous 56k user
      • That's the funniest shit I've read on this site for ages. If I had read that thirty seconds earlier, half my keyboard and screen would be covered in Coke right now.
    • Re:No way (Score:3, Funny)

      by GoofyBoy (44399)
      How much speed do you need to cut-and-paste a story from 3 hours ago?
    • Re:No way (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:17PM (#8090126)
      One of the advantages of the "Internet Lifestyle" is that it lets you do your work from more and more remote places.

      One of the disadvantages of the "Internet Lifestyle" is that it lets you do your work from more and more remote places.

      Places where broadband isn't available.

      You might be surprised just how many geek gods are on dialup because they are geek gods. If they just lived in Altoona (or Ann Arbor) and delivered pizzas they could get cable service, but they can live anywhere they want and still work, so they go someplace nice.

      Personally I like mountains and oceans, but dragging a few thousand miles of coax behind you is a bitch. The bounce to the bird is irrelevant for downloads and uploads (you only experience the lag once), but a bitch for real time interaction.

      The geekiest people may well be the people with the worst internet service.

      KFG
      • Re:No way (Score:3, Informative)

        by Oopsz (127422)
        A true geek is always connected. The price of cellular internet has come down, and the speeds are going up, to the point where its feasible for full time use.

        Links:
        [verizonwireless.com]
        http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/mobileoptions /b roadband/index.jsp

        http://www.broadbandreports.com/faq/5668 [broadbandreports.com]

        http://www.patents.com/pcs/ [patents.com]
      • Re:No way (Score:5, Interesting)

        by caferace (442) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:27PM (#8090288) Homepage
        The geekiest people may well be the people with the worst internet service.

        That's a fairly profound statement, actually.

        Those of us with broadband can become info junkies, endlessly clicking and staring at all the eye candy.

        Those people stuck with dialup *can't* do the same (even with Lynx) and may be likely to spend more time doing something useful, like coding on Slash.

        Of course, Rob is so busy running around in his Lear jet to LW confs and naked BOF's that the only one that really suffers is Ms. Taco (heh), home with the wash and litter.

      • Re:No way (Score:5, Informative)

        by warpSpeed (67927) <slashdot@fredcom.com> on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:31PM (#8090346) Homepage Journal
        The geekiest people may well be the people with the worst internet service.

        If you have the $$$ there is nothing stopping you from getting a T1. You can get a T1 just about anywhere. The local telco may not like it, but they have to provide it.

        • Re:No way (Score:5, Insightful)

          by kfg (145172) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:11PM (#8090910)
          By the same token if you have the $$$ you can get cable anywhere you can get a T1.

          Well, perhaps you might be surprised that a good many geek gods don't have $$$ because they've been doing geeky things instead of amassing $$$.

          I'm not a geek god. Maybe a Roshi. A grey ponytail. Larry can have fun playing with his Ferrari and Marchetti, but I'd slit my skinny geeky wrists before I'd do what he did to get them. I have just as much fun with my Schwinn and homemade scrounged bits and plastic sheeting hang glider.

          Or maybe a boat.

          Do you have a globe handy? You are a geek aren't you? Ah, well, they don't make geeks like they used to I guess. In my day. . . , well, nevermind.

          You've at least seen a globe. So picture that globe in your mind, rotate it up a bit. A bit more, Now to the left, more, more. . . .Stop!

          You are now looking at a globe that for all practical purposes is painted blue.

          Who is the local telco and will they run a T1 line there? Will they run another 100 miles away tomorrow?

          You are looking at the ground. Lift your head and broaden your horizon. It's a big world and it ain't all wired, or even wirable.

          Once upon a time, out in that patch of pure blue on the globe, a women alone in a small sailboat got into trouble. The only other person with any hope of coming to her aid was a man in another small sailboat. He was asleep at the time.

          How was he notified of the situation?

          Email.

          The big world gets smaller all the time. It is possible in some way to get connected from anywhere (although if you have to carry that way on your back over mountains it might be better to just forget about it).

          But that way will often have to eschew wires.

          KFG
      • by rs79 (71822)
        And that's a bonus. Before last week I'd get 28.8K, sometimes 26.4K. After 7 years of this you get used to it. Hell, after a month you get used to it. The only thing you really notice it on is BIG files, for regular eveyrday work stuff the difference with small mostly text based things is barely noticable. Browser caching helps a lot too, if I click preview on this page right here the difference between dialup and a T1 is less than a second. I can live with that.

        I had 128K ISFN when I lived in Toronto in t
      • ...has become more and more about finding places with cheaper and cheaper rent, because you can no longer make enough money to live in a real city with real internet access!
    • Re:No way (Score:5, Informative)

      by Obliterous (466068) <shawn...somers@@@gmail...com> on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:31PM (#8091187) Homepage Journal
      I'm posting this up here because I think that taco REALLY needs to see this.

      I had direcWay for just under a year, and after 3 months, I hated it, with a passion.

      First, there's a 100MB/hour cap that they wont tell you about untill you hit it.

      Second, it's not as reliable as they want you to think it is. in a year I had less than 80% uptime.

      Third: their DNS server fails to include many `offensive' sites. if you want to go there, gotta find a 3rd party DNS server.

      Fourth: support is worthless. I averaged fourty minutes a call, just so they could tell Me their DNS machine was rebooting. (yes, ONLY one DNS server)

      fifth: it requires a USB connection to the modems (or at least, it did when I got mine) and that limited my max throughput to 1.2Mbit. When you think about it, that's not too bad, considering the 100MB/hour cap...

      sixth: their modem control software is buggy. P-3 800, Win2k-fresh install, and the direcWay software, it locked up at LEAST once a day. Nothing else on the box, and the box was load/stability tested when it was rebuilt.

      seven: they cant find their ass with both hands, a map, two guide dogs, a tour guide, and a case of montezuma's revenge.
      We wanted to upgrade to Hi-Def TV because we bought a new bigscreen, and the direcTV people took three weeks to get a technician out here. He took one look at the direcWay dish, and admited that he didn't have a frigin clue to how this was suposed to work.

      we called them back, told them about the problem, and they promised us a technician that knew how to set up hi-def with direcway. a week later, the same doofus came back.

      after five days on the phone with their supervisors supervisors, we cann'ed them. Much happier on our Hi-Def Dish Network System, and for the broadband, we went with Aire Networks [airenetwork.com]

      I know they don't cover you out there, taco, but I hope for your sake that there is something similar. after 3 months with direcWay, /. would probably have to find a new editor.
      • by dszd0g (127522) on Monday January 26, 2004 @04:27PM (#8092692) Homepage
        First of all, make sure you are not "powered by" anyone. Earthlink and AOL resell the service and most people quickly want to get out of that situation. Earthlink and AOL have really bad support and slower downloads speeds then DirectWay directly.

        It is 128kbps up and 400kbps down peak (For reference a T1 is 1540kbps up and down). It's expensive. I didn't realize it was $100/month for the first year and $60/month after that, but it is a two way Satellite system and those are still expensive. Most users seem to get better than 400kbps down, but somewhere around 30-80kbps up. With the one-way (dial-up systems) most users get 18-28kbps up due to the overhead in their protocol.

        No phone line is required with the two-way system. There are one-way and two-way services offered.

        This is something I wrote when I had the system and using it over SSH:

        "I am typing this e-mail over our new DirectWay system, and it is extremely painful. It is far worse than dial-up. Every character I type takes
        about one second to appear. I have to count the number of backspaces I want, number of arrow keys, etc.

        C:\>ping [My ssh box hosted at Hurricane Electric]

        Pinging [My ssh box] [1.2.3.4] with 32 bytes of data:

        Reply from 1.2.3.4: bytes=32 time=1012ms TTL=242
        Reply from 1.2.3.4: bytes=32 time=861ms TTL=242
        Request timed out.
        Request timed out.

        Ping statistics for 1.2.3.4:
        Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 2, Lost = 2 (50% loss),
        Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
        Minimum = 861ms, Maximum = 1012ms, Average = 468ms

        Ignore the average, Microsoft apparently counts dropped packets as 0ms.

        I seem to be getting about 900ms ping times on average to most fast sites. We are getting about 750ms on average to the first hop.

        The speeds vary a lot. When I did a speed test earlier I got 252kbps down/18kbps up. Right now I am getting a lot better:

        CA server:

        Test running.........
        **Speed 827(down)/25(up) kbps **
        (At least 16 times faster than a 56k modem)

        LA server:

        Test running.........
        ** Speed 653(down)/51(up) kbps **
        (At least 13 times faster than a 56k modem)

        (For comparison to what I got when I was on cable modem:
        2002-03-05 23:03:40 Speed test (la) 780/124 kbps
        2002-03-05 22:58:28 Speed test (wc) 772/109 kbps )

        I also did the toast.net speed test and got a bit worse results, you can
        see them here:
        My toast results [toast.net]

        I disabled their proxy server to speed up Web browsing, but their software comes up with annoying pop-ups that tell me that I am not using their proxy. I will set it back when I am done. Speed tests do not work through proxies, so that is the main reason I disabled it.

        It took me about 20 minutes to write this e-mail and the connection dropped once during writing it."

        I use SSH so much that I went back to dial-up before the trial period ended. I get about 150ms over a 56K connection so SSH is about 6 times slower. Web browsing wasn't improved enough to make the service worth it. Some sites seemed slower even. I believe it was any HTTPS sites like checking my bank account were terrible.

        DSL reports has a FAQ available. It is a good site to check out when looking at new ISPs.
        DSL Reports Satellite FAQ [dslreports.com]
  • PEI (Score:4, Informative)

    by xenocyst (618913) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:03PM (#8089878)
    a remote co-worker has it up in prince edward's island and it seems to work pretty well for her
  • by pardasaniman (585320) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:04PM (#8089887) Journal
    Features: Space age technology Really means your ping times will be comparable to that of the mars rover.
  • by The_Rippa (181699) * on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:04PM (#8089890)
    That the only guy on Slashdot with a 56k is the guy that started it
    • by LnxAddct (679316) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:11PM (#8090009)
      Why wasn't this an option in the "Failure as a Geek" poll last week :)
    • by Alric (58756) <slashdot AT tenhundfeld DOT org> on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:19PM (#8090157) Homepage Journal
      I think you would be surprised how many developers have 56k at home. I have looked into DirecWay also; as I happen to live just between two cities. DSL might come in a year or two, but I doubt cable will be available for the next five years.

      The truth is that I don't need more than 56k. I work long hours, and our netadmin is cool at my employer. He doesn't mind if I d/l legal music or non-business ISO's. I can get pretty much whatever I want; his only rule is that we don't use any P2P programs and blocks the standard ports. And you know what, when I get home late at night or have the weekend off, I don't really want to sit in front of my computer very much. I'd rather talk to my fiance or go outside or do ANYTHING different from what I do 60 hrs/week.

      I understand the great beauty of an always-on connection, and if broadband were cheaply available, I'd take it. My point is just that many of us here love computers and programming, but we get so much of it during the work week that we really don't care much about having broadband at home.

      Having a good dev laptop also helps assuage the need for broadband.
    • by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:28PM (#8090294) Homepage Journal
      "56k should be enough for everybody." --Cmdr Taco
  • by JayPee (4090) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:05PM (#8089908)
    The only thing I would be worried about is if weather affected it as it does Direct TV.

    Everyone I know with Direct TV is basically screwed when any amount of rain or snow is falling.
    • by spronk (712662) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:07PM (#8089950)
      It takes MASSIVE amounts of rain or snow to interrupt a DirecTV singal to the point where it's unwatchable. In all of 2003 I think I've had maybe 3 times where I had and outage and then only for a matter of minutes. Overall it's far more reliable than my old Timer Warner cable was.
      • Turns out that the downloads aren't beaten on too badly by bad weather though the weather affects internet more than it does TV. The bigger problem is uploads (if you get the two-way version) since they are transmitted with far lower power. From everything I've read, get the version that does uploads over the phone instead of over the satellite, its far less prone to breaking down.
    • by tbase (666607) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:08PM (#8089970)
      I used to have rain fade problems until I took the time to get my dish pointed properly, and got it out of the direct path of raindrops. For some reason, it seems that keeping rain directly off the dish seems to help. I live in Florida, and I rarely loose it even in the rainy season during torrential downpours.
      • Rain OFF dish (Score:3, Informative)

        by wowbagger (69688)
        Water is a conductor*, so when the water coats the face of the dish it alters the focus of the dish by altering the shape the RF "sees". Screw the focus of the dish up, and you go from many tens of decibels of gain to as low as 0 dBi.

        Keep the dish dry, and the focus stays sharp, and the only effect the rain has is a minor attenuation in the path from the bird to the dish.

        (*Pure water is an insulator, of course, but given dirt in the air and on the dish and you will have enough ions in the water to make it
        • it has a high index of refraction due to its high dielectric constant. This would tend to muck up the wavefront shape of anything that reflects (rather than being absorbed).

          This is one place where the solid dish is a disadvantage. If the dish was a mesh (coarse enough to let water fall through rather than being held in the holes by surface tension) this might not be such a problem.

    • I work at Sears where we sell Dish. As far as weather related problems, we usually only run into them in the kind of storms where you wouldn't want to have your machines on most likely anyway. Im not 100% sure about Direct, but I would imagine that installation is free, they tend to want you to get their product and like it without having to go through the hassles that would initially create a hostile relationship. With that said, I had a friend that had Sat. internet a couple years ago, and while I'm no
    • by midifarm (666278) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:12PM (#8090047)
      OK, I live in Minneapolis, which gets an ample amount of bad weather (lots of snow and rain) and I can truly say that I have only had a disruption in service twice. These said instances were during VERY bad storms. So the rhetoric spread by the failing cable companies is totally false, besides NFL Sunday Ticket is the greatest thing! I would just think the 56K upload speed (I'm assuming this is rate) would drive me crazy.

      Peace

    • by Eyah....TIMMY (642050) * on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:13PM (#8090058)
      I went through several storms and was surfing the net quite well, while airports and road were closed.
      The only problem I had was when snow got in the actual dish, then I had to get it out. I only had to do that once though. Most of the time the wind blows the snow away.
    • The only thing I would be worried about is if weather affected it as it does Direct TV.

      I'm sure it is, it sends using roughly the same frequencies (so roughly the same problems with water absorption), to satellites in roughly the same place (so about the same angle, so about the same amount of weather and trees to punch a signal through).

      About the only difference is TCP/IP will do retries and DTV broadcasts are limited to doing forward error correction ('tho with the latencies involved I hope they al

  • by Eyah....TIMMY (642050) * on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:06PM (#8089913)
    The main problem I found was installing a linksys router I had behind the DW6000.

    The DW modem acts as a outer/firewall too. It will assign IPs and the only thing you need is a switch to connect multiple computers to it.

    The problem is you can't really configure the modem/router. So you can't disable the router feature for example. If you want that kind of control, you'll need the pro version which is quite pricy (although it gives you a static IP).

    Here's a forum [tek-tips.com] I found that addresses the DW6000 and linksys router problems.
    • by Otto (17870) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:33PM (#8090371) Homepage Journal
      Why would it matter?

      The Linksys "router" is basically just a NAT box. Connect the DW6000 to the WAN port. The Linksys would get an IP from the DW6000 box via DHCP, then do NAT services to anything on it's LAN side. Shouldn't be any strange configuration to it whatsoever.

      I've used Linksys boxes to connect stuff similar to this before, and don't think it would really be a problem if you know what the box is actually doing.. I guess you could set the thing up in router mode if you wanted, but it really shouldn't be necessary.
  • SSH over satellite (Score:5, Informative)

    by sterno (16320) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:06PM (#8089918) Homepage
    I'm not familiar with DirecWay service, but I have done quite a bit of remote work using SSH over satellite. It's rather painful, but it is usable. I usually get about 1/2 second of latency and it is irritating, but you can still get stuff done if you have to.

    If you're expecting to do hours upon hours of work this way though, I imagine it will drive you nuts.
    • by TomRushworth (745454) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:53PM (#8090635)
      I've used DirecWay for several years now.

      Re: weather problems - I've only had a couple of hours worth of outages in the whole time, I wouldn't consider it an issue. If you live in a snow zone though, make sure you can reach the dish easily with something to clean off excess snow. A dusting doesn't hurt, but a foot of snow on the arm pretty much kills the signal :).

      Re: SSH and interactive delay - extended interactive work _will_ drive you nuts. The technical term for the experience is "wait and see, squared" :). SSH works just fine for file copies, BK/CVS, tunnels etc., as long as any typing you do is local. I use direct ssh only to set up something less interactive.

      My original installation was with a Win2K box and was useless for networking, as any large file that went through "internet connection sharing" got dropped part way though. I switched to a Helius Satellite Router and have been happy with it ever since.

      Overall I'm quite pleased with it. I'll never see cable or DSL, and dialup is long distance, so this is the only viable alternative for real network access, but I'd choose it over dialup even if dialup were completely free.

  • by Fnkmaster (89084) * on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:06PM (#8089919)
    It sounds from their site like the DirecWay is a two-way system. While in theory that might sound more convenient than the older downstream-only satellite systems that used 56k dial-up for upstream, I'd imagine the latency would be substantially worse, with two satellite hops in the round-trip. Is this the case in practice? Honestly, how much upstream bandwidth do you really need for casual use, given that you aren't going to be doing any serving or gaming on a sat link anyway? Is the subjective experience better or worse with this system?
    • by GigsVT (208848) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:11PM (#8090024) Journal
      It doesn't matter, the upstream to the satellite isn't much faster than dial-up.

      Only benefit it not paying for another phone line.

      I have starband, I use a regular dial-in modem in addition to it. Dial-in modem is the default route on my box, and I set up proxies to a proxy server connected to the satellite for web and ftp downloads.

      That way I can ssh out without horrible latency, but still download at the faster satellite download speeds.

      To his other questions, rain fade is real. If you have a strong enough signal normally, you won't drop service unless it's really coming down outside. Installation for starband ran about $700 or so.

      Directway is slower than Starband, but if you want the OS agnostic modem, you currently have to get the small business package, which is $120 per month. Standard service still uses the 360 windows-only modem, but it's $60 per month.

      In the future, there will be robots. I mean in the future, there will be a "telecommuter" account type that will assumedly allow people to get the hardware-based 480 modem without paying so much per month.
    • by Afrosheen (42464) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:16PM (#8090111)
      My brother lives out in the boonies and I'll relay what he's told me about his satellite.

      1. Latency is horrible. He gets a 1000ms ping to anywhere, so that's a 1 second delay after he clicks anything before the remote server he's hitting even gets his attention.

      2. Download caps. I think he's limited to a few gigs a month, maybe one.

      3. Bandwidth throttling. This is time dependent as in time of day also. If you download too fast during certain hours of the day (internet prime time if you will), you get throttled waaaay down to a few KB/sec for hours.

      4. Complicated software that's windows only. Everytime he calls me for tech support, I cringe. It's always an XP problem and always hard to troubleshoot. I've been wanting to get him on linux for years but with the satellite it's just not an option. He has the 2 usb boxes setup for his connection, maybe this new router would help.

      5. Awful browsing. Since the latency is so high, some servers timeout before you can get a page from them. I had him install Opera awhile back (the lightning fast caching helps alot when navigating sites on a high latency connection) and he loves it, uses it exclusively. Without Opera, surfing the web is painful.

      6. Unplayable online games. With that kind of ping, you can't play anything online, except maybe Yahoo Java Chess or something where reflexes don't count. Flash games may be playable too, not sure.

      It basically sucks for anything but leeching big files, and for that it sucks too thanks to throttling and bandwidth limits. It's hard to believe that in this day and age people in remote locations have to suffer with crap like this. Then again, bandwidth isn't a god-given right...but it should be.
      • by aheath (628369) *
        Your brother may want to consider upgrading his setup. The DIRECWAY FAQ [getdway.com] states:

        "Q: What is the difference between the DW6000 modem and the DW4000 modem? A: The DW6000 is the next-generation DIRECWAY system modem with a sleek new design. It makes connecting to the Internet easier by incorporating DIRECWAY software inside the DW6000 unit. So there's no DIRECWAY software to load on your computer or upgrades to download. The DW6000 automatically updates itself via the satellite. Also, the DW6000 modem houses

      • Well, starband is 600ms or so standard ping, with varying amounts of packets hitting 1200 and 1800ms, because it's collision based and some packets need retries.

        There's no bandwidth limits with Starband at least. And they provide a full usenet server, with a lot of binary groups even. Once I leeched 4GB from their news server in two days, just to see if they would let me. That was when I first signed up, I don't download huge amounts anymore, just normal stuff like JVMs and Linux updates and etc.

        Anyway
      • I think you are really overstating how bad it is. No its not DSL or cable modem but it is vastly superior to a dialup as long as you can affort it. One huge plus is there isn't a cat fight all the time over using the phone line for a phone or using it for internet. That alone was worth it assuming you cant get a second phone line cheap.

        Your complaints about the complicated windows only software is the old 4000 modem and is not relevent to the 6000 Cmdr Taco was asking about. The 6000 is a vast improvem
    • by Alan Cox (27532)
      Remember Linux (and I believe FreeBSD and OpenBSD) support routing by port number and by protocol flags. That means you can (with a little care) make sure your ssh goes via the modem while your file sucking operations go via the satellite.

      All you really need then is something to check file sizes against the bandwidth cap and fax orders for very large files from a CD vendor automatically 8)

      "This file will take 2 days to download
      [Cancel] [Continue] [Fedex]"

  • Fair Access Policy (Score:5, Informative)

    by NinjaPablo (246765) <(ten.hcethsams) (ta) (olbapajnin)> on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:06PM (#8089925) Homepage Journal
    They have a policy which basically allows you to download at high speeds up to a point (600MB or so I think), after which you are throttled to sub-56K speeds for 18-24 hours. This was the main reason for me cancelling the service. The limit is slightly higher if you sign up for 'Commercial' service.
    • I had a friend who canceled his service for the exact same reason. Sounds great, right up until they throttle you...
    • by lucasorion (398514) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:31PM (#8090336)
      The best way to think of the Fair Access Policy is like a bucket of water, which refills at a rate of about 5 KB a second. The bucket fills up to 169 megs (for the consumer version, 350 for the more expensive one), and if you empty the bucket in a four hour period you are penalized by being throttled down to dialup speeds for a while. What this effectively has meant for me is that I must schedule downloads of large files in chunks. I use leechget to download a 169 meg chunk in the morning, then let the bucket refill, and download another later in the early evening, then maybe schedule another one in the middle of the night - when the limit goes up to 225 megs. Web browsing is pretty comparable to dialup due to latency, not anything close to when I had cable (didn't want to switch, but had to move). The best part is the download speeds, which usually equal or exceed the speeds I was getting with cable. See here [broadbandreports.com] for user experiences and the best tech support you'll get with this service, and also read the FAQ here [broadbandreports.com]
  • by back_pages (600753) <back_pages&cox,net> on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:06PM (#8089927) Journal
    Is this the same type of setup used in tricked out semi tractors? I've had a few people (automobile accident assessors, etc.) ask me what they should get so that they may have internet access that's truly mobile. Satellite is the easy answer, but beyond that all I could say was, "Uh, figure out what truck drivers use."
    • Flying J truck stops are all supposed to have 802.11b access shorty (many already do). That's probably what the trucker's are using if they aren't using cell modems. You couldn't use DirecWay for mobile use because you have to have the dish "professionally" pointed. I don't think the marine and RV antennas work for the internet access the way they do for Sat. TV.
  • editor abuse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by donutz (195717) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:07PM (#8089935) Homepage Journal
    I'm abusing my power as Slashdot editor to ask for experiences with this (or similiar) services.

    I agree completely Taco. Notwithstanding the fact that many similar (do the research yourself) questions make their way to Ask Slashdot, at least I'd think you'd not set this to appear as a front-page story -- it would have been better (less abuse, on your part), I think, to just let it pop up only in the Ask Slashdot section.

    Oh well.
  • i've had it (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:07PM (#8089940)
    I had it when i was living in tuba city, arizona. expect lag to be awful, when pages need several requests to the server to load properly, it will take a *long* time to load. once you start downloading something, that goes by quickly though. alos, since the uplink is on the east coast, if they experience bad weather, you will experience zero internet, even when it's sunny for you. useful service i guess if you want to up your max download speed, but i would definately reccommend a dialup backup service for when it craps out.
  • Theres no catch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by emkman (467368) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:07PM (#8089943)
    The thing about satellite internet is that there is no reason to ever get it unless you have no other options. It is more expensive than DSL or cable, yet slower. And the higher latency as you mentioned. But it sounds like your kinda situation is the semi-niche market satellite internet aims at. As far as installion goes, since you already have a dish on your roof, any half-competent installer will be able to do the job in a half-hour.
  • by wowbagger (69688) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:07PM (#8089951) Homepage Journal
    What is the price of the sat service per month, exclusive of the equipment cost?

    What would the cost be of buying a dry pair from the phone company and having them terminate a T1 at your house?

    After all Rob, you could very easily write off the cost of a T1 at home as a business expense on your taxes, and worst case, I would think that even if the phone company won't terminate a data connection on it, your could route it to the cage and have it on the back end of the Slashdot router - just think, direct access to your servers from behind the firewall!

    • by aheath (628369) * <adam DOT heath AT comcast DOT net> on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:16PM (#8090110)
      According to the DIRECWAY FAQ [getdway.com]"The DIRECWAY system with the DW6000 modem retails for $599.98 (includes dish, modem and standard installation), and you pay the regular service monthly rate (currently $59.99 per month)." There's an alternate payment plan of $99.99 up front followed by $99.99 per month for a 15 month contract. After 15 months the fee drops to $59.99 a month.

      The cost figures make me wonder whether a WISP might be less expensive. Sprint and AT&T Wireless have been advertising cellular based WISP service in the Boston area. I don't know if this type of service is available in the Ann Arbor area.

      Speaking of dry pairs and T1 lines, I have heard that if you can order Switched 56 or ISDN from the phone company, you can be assured of obtaining a dedicated copper pair. Once you have the copper pair, you MAY be able to switch over to ISDN service.

    • I am doing exactly that-- I have a cage with a T1 from the cage to my house. I am also supplying access for a local community WISP [lakeanne.net], so my costs are covered. I ran into some problems because my location is outside the LATA of the co-lo facility. So even though it is only 10 miles away, I would have to pay a very high local loop cost.

      Then I got in touch with some folks at BTN [btnaccess.com], they got me set up with a MPLS [btnaccess.com] connection. It is somewhat similar to a frame relay connection, in that it is not distance sensitive. My advantage is that BTN has a connection at my co-lo, so everything fit nicely into place.

      So see if you can get a frame relay or MPLS T1, with a little research there might be a very cost effective solution. YMMV

  • With a dialup for the outgoing packets, incoming packets still have a round-trip-time of 200 ms to get from the ground station to the geosynchronous sattelite and back.

    I don't know about you, but an extra 200 ms of latency kills my typing skills.
  • I was interested in this several years ago, altho I think it was directpc. I wouldn't be surprised if things are the same, or even that they are the same company and/or equipment.

    This was just after they came out with new equipment that was satellite in both directions. Before that, satellite was for downlink only, you still needed a modem for uplink.

    The outstanding complaint was crap customer support. In general, for just about any complaint you had, they blamed it on the weather. A single cloud in t
  • by johnmat (650076) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:08PM (#8089958)
    My girlfriend has this service at her house, and my experience with it is that the latencies are very noticeable. Web sites certainly load faster than dial up, but not as quickly as the slow (400K) DSL service I have at my house. I have not run ssh over it, but running xterms over my employers VPN service is fairly painful. In fact, the standard Nortel VPN service did not work at all as it timed out - the IT guys had to put me on a beta Cisco server. We have also had a couple of outages over the last 2 months, where the whole service went down for a few hours, and their tech support acknowledged a system wide problem. This service is only worth it if your only alternative is dial up.
  • Satellite Usage (Score:5, Informative)

    by Merlinium (678576) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:08PM (#8089960) Journal
    We had a Remote Worker that was in or near the spokane area, he had to Admin our Network here in Seattle during a Family Crisis. He was able to complete his work without any shortcomings, time of did not matter, it worked well for the remote admin work that needed to be done. And as you already stated this type of setup is not for gaming, but Admin stuff it works. SSH, PHP, Remote Admin, all worked without any problems.
  • Simple Physics (Score:4, Informative)

    by swordboy (472941) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:08PM (#8089971) Journal
    Distance to geostationary satellite: 22,000 miles (44,000 total round trip)
    Speed of Light: 186,000 miles/second

    Total delay: 44/186 = 0.23 sec = 0.46 for response a two way conversation

    Unacceptable
    • by sterno (16320)
      In the real world, you'll get ping times in the 550-600ms range. It's not at terrible as you'd think, but like I said in a previous post, it makes using a terminal quite painful. It's usable, but really unpleasant.
  • So that explains all the dupes... He must not be seeing the articles until 6 hours after they are posted.

    In all seriousness though satellite isn't the greatest but it's good and a ton better then dial up. I've had to use it before and if that is all they have in your area then I'd go for it. The latency is not too bad and you get used to it quick.
    Regards,
    Steve
  • ISDN (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gtrubetskoy (734033) * on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:09PM (#8089977)
    Cable and DSL won't ever happen where I'm located.

    I believe the telcos are still obligated by regulations to provide ISDN no matter where you are.

  • by Indy1 (99447) <spamtrap@fuckedregime.com> on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:09PM (#8089985) Homepage
    recently i moved to a small town about an hour north of denver. No cable here, and dsl wasnt availible until last month (slightly off topic rant: qwest you suck balls). Surprisingly all the neighbors had microwave based internet access. For about $50 a month, they get 1mbps up and down, with 10 gigs a traffic per month. You may want to see if that is availible in your neck of the woods.
  • I have DirectWay (Score:5, Informative)

    by md27 (463785) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:10PM (#8089996) Homepage
    It's not bad considering the only alternative is dialup. The latencies are noticed in things other than games, web browsing has a noticeable lag between the link click and the page loading. But the page comes down almost complete in one big burst, so the total time for page load probably averages out close to DSL, you just notice the gap more on the satellite. Our version has a USB connection that hooks the modem to the computer and appears as a USB Ethernet connection. We had to run W2k Server to share this connection out using Routing and Remote Access, but that works pretty well. I'm not sure about the newer hardware, we've been on satellite close to 2.5 years.
  • Wireless (Score:3, Funny)

    by -tji (139690) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:11PM (#8090007) Journal
    Find some slashdot fanboy in Ann Arbor, buy him a can 'o pringles, and set up a wireless link to you house.

    By the way, with assloads of money from /.'s acquisition, couldn't you find a house a little closer to civilization?
  • Solution to latency (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:11PM (#8090019)
    You can route interactive traffic out a dialup link to reduce latency, and all other traffic over the satelite link. See http://www.lartc.org .. Simply use netfilter to mark packets, and policy routing to pick which interface to NAT the traffic out of. Not for newbies, but I'm sure the editor of /. can handle it ;)
  • Plenty of catches... (Score:5, Informative)

    by duffbeer703 (177751) * on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:11PM (#8090028)
    Make sure you read the service agreement...

    They keep a moving average of your bandwidth utilization. Exceeding the unspecified caps results in your downstream bandwidth being halved, (ie 100%->50%->25%->12.5%) and eventually cut off.

    My parents used this with the previous generation hardware, downloading a Java SDK & Eclipse runtime (say 100MB) resulted in a noticeable decrease in bandwidth.

    It is also way to slow for me to use ssh interactively.

    Here's some snippets of the AUP, from http://legal.direcway.com/index.html#agree:


    6.1 Prohibited Conduct

    (g) to post information on newsgroups which is not in the topic area of the newsgroup;
    (j) to damage the name or reputation of DIRECWAY, DIRECTV, Hughes Network Systems, Hughes Electronics Corporation or any of their respective parents, affiliates and subsidiaries, or any third parties;
    (k) to transmit confidential or proprietary information, except solely at your own risk;
    (l) to violate our or any third party's copyright, trademark, proprietary or other intellectual property rights, including trade secret rights;
    (m) to generate excessive amounts (as determined in our sole discretion) of Internet traffic

    6.2 DIRECWAY FAIR ACCESS POLICY

    To ensure equal Internet access for all subscribers, we maintain a running average fair access policy. Fair access establishes an equitable balance in Internet access across the DIRECWAY Services by service plan for all DIRECWAY customers regardless of their frequency of use or volume of traffic. To ensure this equity, you may experience some temporary throughput limitations. DIRECWAY Internet access is not guaranteed. This policy applies to all service plans including "Unlimited" plans where customers' use of the service is not limited to a specific number of hours per month.
  • Satellite Experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Evanrude (21624) <david@fatty c o .org> on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:13PM (#8090051) Homepage Journal
    I assisted a friend of mine in setting up his DirecWay system about a year ago. I am not sure what the "professional installation costs" were, but they had no satellite service of any kind prior to the install. I know that at that time, you had to purchase all the hardware, which ran about $600.00.

    Aside from that, the equipment at that time had to be plugged into a computer via. USB and setup via Windows only software. If you wanted any kind of routing done, it had to be done through Windows.

    The hardware/software may have changed since then and they may now offer an ethernet port and a more OS friendly configuration.

    Aside from those things, the speed was nice for web browsing and any other low impact services. I do recall using ssh and it seemed to work ok. The latency isn't as noticable as it would be playing a game.

    That's my experience...
  • by PaulK (85154) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:13PM (#8090052)
    Fair Access Policy. Learn them, love them, leave them. Here is one war story [thesqueakywheel.com].
    There are sites dedicated to the incredible level of FAP abuse that is piled on customers.

    Here is a place for you to study [satelliteinsight.com].
    This may be more relevant to your needs, here [joeuser.com].
  • Don't do it! (Score:4, Informative)

    by mo (2873) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:14PM (#8090071)
    I've had the misfortune to use satellite internet. Here's a quick summary on how it behaves:

    - ssh sessions or terminal server are unusable so if you do any remote access of any machines, forget it.

    - web browsing is about the speed of a dialup unless you're looking at pages that are one huge chunk of html with no images. Most pages these days are lots of little images which totally lags on satellite. Note that you may reduce the pain with caching proxies and/or HTTP keepalive/pipelining but it's a lot of work, and at least one of your daily reads will not improve with this.

    Anyways, unless you're out in the middle of the jungle, I'd just stick with cheap dialup. You can save your money up and build a long range wifi link.
  • by A moron (37050) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:16PM (#8090093)
    I've been using it for about 4 months now.

    It pretty much sucks, but until there's a better option, it's usually better than dial-up.

    You'll probably find a more informed discussion at broadbandreports.com forums. Also check out their Satellite FAQ [broadbandreports.com]

    SSH sessions are pretty bad. However, in pinches they are possible by "typing blind". ie. typing your slew of commands and waiting for them to appear/happen. Can be a bit dangerous. :)

    Reliability is pretty bad. We have regular snow and rain storms which usually knocks it out of service.

    Speeds, http download is alright, although there is always a slight delay before things happen due to latency. Other download speeds suck, especially anything is encrypted. Upload speed is as slow as if not slower than modem.

    But, we don't have any other options at the moment (come on airships!)

    BTW our setup two way direcway using a dedicated w2k box with crappy internet connection sharing.
  • by Dr. Zowie (109983) * <slashdot@@@deforest...org> on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:21PM (#8090198)
    Sprint's PCS cellphone system includes a data connection. It seems to work at about 150 kbps. You get a USB adapter cable that plugs right into the phone (which can then charge off the USB power). The computer sees it as a 150kbps Hayes modem, and you run ppp over it. Ping times are usually in the 100-200 ms range: too slow for good gaming or remote X applications, but quite usable for typing, browsing, etc.

    The data connection comes free with their Vision service, which in turn comes free with the larger plans. For about $150 or $200/month you can get enough minutes to keep your phone connected 24/7.

    I was rather impressed with the service on a recent road trip (the first time I tried it). If you're in range of a cell phone tower, it might be worth trying as a remote ISP. It's not that fast for the price, but it is completely mobile -- you get the same data service from anywhere in their coverage area.

  • I'm an installer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AMystery (725537) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:23PM (#8090223) Homepage Journal

    A few notes from this side of the fence.

    Performance: obviously the latency, but you also need to know that it doesn't just kill games, web pages can be a problem. They have some fancy caching software that softens the blow so it is tolerable but in general lots of surfing isn't any faster than a 56k and the download cap is very annoying, you can hit it in 30 minutes and basically be offline for the rest of the day. I have a friend/fellow installer who has it and he can't get isos because it would use all his throughput and its not worth it. (He doesn't seem to understand how to throttle things)

    Cost: Its expensive but if its the only thing available then its the cheapest option.

    Installation: It is a dish that has to be mounted to your house and the installers are not highly paid (barely paid is more accurate) so don't expect them to do a good job. If you can wire your house for them and have everything ready then they will probably do a better job. I prefer pole mounts where you drop a steel pole in the ground and mount to it or some other mount that isn't attached ot the house. Digging a trench and sticking some conduit in it out to a wooden or metal pole will make a happy installer who might try to do a better job. These things are huge pains to point and get good signal but they also don't drop as much as direcTV since they are a bigger and more powerful dish.

    DirecWay itself isn't very responsive to problems. They are no help at all if you aren't running windows and their software. Still, given the choice between DirecWay and a 56k modem, I'd probably pick DirecWay, at least if they were the same price...I (*shudder*) was only able to get AOL in my old place and that never got about a 28k connection so moving to here and finally having cable has been amazing. I visit people with DirecWay and its so slow by comparison. Still, get it if you can afford it and a modem isn't doing it for you.

  • by dspyder (563303) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:25PM (#8090259)
    I looked into it since I love my satellite television!

    Maybe I was missing something, but it sounded like the equipment startup cost was something in the range of $500-$600... with little to no subsidizing. Looking at their website [direcway.com] now, they still have that ($599) at $59.99/mo with no activation fee. It also looks like they're offering a subsidized $99/mo with a $99 activation. So... $600-$99/$40 ~= 12.5 months to make it work buying the equipment up front. Looks like there's a 15 month contract even with the equipment purchased... odd.

    So... satellite definitely has latency. Satellite definitely has problems with severe weather (but it has to be really severe). But if it's your only option, it does provide decent downstream speeds.

    Have you considered wireless of some form or another? Commerical 802.11b gear with big antennas on either end should easily be able to do 5 miles if you have line of site. Another alternative is to bring a dedicated line (T1, etc.) out to you and become a Wireless ISP youself by coop splitting the bandwidth costs between your neighbors...

    Hope that helps!

    --Darren
  • I'm happy with it (Score:5, Informative)

    by demachina (71715) on Monday January 26, 2004 @01:27PM (#8090285)
    I live in the middle of no where in the foothills of the Rockies having moved here from a city with great DSL. The dialup modem went out the window almost immediately. It drove me crazy. You really can never go back after you have broadband.

    You do want the new Direcway 6000 modem. The old 4000 modems use a USB connection to a mandatory Windows box. The shared internet connection from Windows is slow and bites in general. MS really sucks at doing simple networking stuff. I imagine Direcway only sell the 6000 now though it might be a little pricier. We got rebates to trade in the 400 and agreed to another years service but it still cost $200-300 dollars.

    The new 6000 modem is just a gateway you plug in to your Ethernet LAN. Direcway automaticly upgrades it. I wager its a Linux box but I don't know for sure. You set it up and control it via any browser. It works great from my Linux laptop though they only advertise Windows and Mac. It uses DHCP.

    You do want to keep the cable run from the dish to the modem as short as possible to improve the signal stength like any dish. Ours coax is real short and we get about 95% signal strength which is the best the installer has seen.

    If you get a lot of snow and wind is blowing it in the dish it does fill with snow, the signal craters and you have to sweep it, but thats true of satellite TV too.

    They do have a fair use policy and will throttle you if you use it heavily. Trying to download a 300 MB ISO image it throttles at 200 MB, last time I tried, and you drop to modem speeds until the next day. So you need to stop the download and restart where you left off the next day. They have a place you can check your usage and where you stand. I think they throttle you monthly too if you abuse it though I haven't noticed that.

    The performance is better off peak hours. As its gotten more popular the performance has suffered some during peak hours.

    Uplink is not blazing though I send 500-600K attachments on email, they do take a while to upload.

    Latency is certainly a problem. You notice it the worst on web pages that have a 100 little images and URL's embedded in them. Even then I still take it over a 56K anyday.

    I play Everquest on it and its certainly playable though you have to learn to work around the latency which runs from as low as 200 ms up to 700 ms, usually around 500 ms. It was much worse on the old 4000 modem and the shared connection with Windows. You notice it when you try to chase down stuff since they are a 1/2 second from where you think they are so you have to lead them but keep them in view of your camera. Its best to play a caster with snare or root or have a pet to work around this. It takes a while to zone due to the latency.

    The latency would probably make shooters unplayable though I haven't tried any.

    One down side is I think you are putting money in the pocket of Rupert Murdoch and FOX since they bought DirectTV last year and I think DirecWay went with them. So if you dont like Fox politics...

    My sister has the competitor, Starband which is the other satellite option in the U.S. I think it has to run through a Windows machine, at least last time I checked.
  • by cruachan (113813) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:12PM (#8090942)
    I'm in Europe - Scottish Highlands - and have been running on satellite for 18 months. I'm using the earlier DirecWay DW4000 system - marketed under a different company reseller here (Bridge Broadband), but still the same thing underneath.

    I've found satellite excellent. It's got pluses and minuses compared to 'normal' broadband, but so long as you understand what you're dealing with then it's a really good choice. In fact if I moved back to an area with cable broadband I'd be very tempted to take this dish with me and stick to satellite.

    Good things

    * Generally there's no problem with contention ratios. I'm contracted for a 512Kb pipe and that's what I get whenever I demand it. Having hear horror stories of cable broadband being slower than dialup because of the contentiion ratios piled on (20:1 +) it's nice to have a fat'ish pipe to yourself. This is probably the single best thing about satellite. (OK, I know there must be contention management somewhere, but I've never seen it).

    * Cost. Although upfront costs are high, and running costs not cheap, you do have all that pipe to do what you will with. I've got cable laid to my three neighbours, who I charge 'normal broadband' rates to, so the ongoing cost works out the same, if not slightly cheaper, than cable broadband. Some vendors don't let you do this while others smile benignly on it so check.

    * Easy upgrade - if you need more bandwidth the Hughes system can generally give it to you with little or no kit changes. 512Kb is enough for me, but it's nice to know that could increase several times.

    * Reliable - reliability seems excellent. True there's the occassional glitch like any system, but because everybody is going through the same earth station problems tends to effect everyone at once so they really pull their finger out. I've found with systems based on local exchanges that if something goes down because only a few'ish local people are effected it can take days to fix.

    Bad things

    * Ping times are unavoidably long. Around 900ms for most destinations as against 250ms for cable. However this is less of a problem than you'd expect for most things. Web browsers can be tweaked to grab more items in parallel - so total page load time is no different, and downloads/streaming media etc it doesn't matter if you're just a second or so later once it starts. However most games are out and video-conferencing is doubtful (I'm told the system can be optomised to make it possible though but not tried)

    * You can get outages in very heavy rain under very thick cloud. This is pretty rare but does happen - but generally it's obvious what the problem is so having a beer for half an hour until the heavy rain passes is a fine solution. Also occassionally had problems in blizzards from a build up of snow on the transmitter.

    * Some services occassionaly don't like satellite. For example I quite often find ftp upload is much slower than expected. This may have something to do with the way satellite doesn't transmit/recieve a continous stream of IP packets but collects them together to transmit as larger 'frames'.

    Bottom line. Unless you find the ping time problem a killer issue then satellite is a really good rural solution. Like all engineering it helps if you have some understanding and 'machine
    sympathy'

  • by chill (34294) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:18PM (#8091034) Journal
    A friend of mine live just out of reach from cable-modem/DSL. He's five miles away from my house (cable modem).

    In the last month, he's spent more time connecting to my wireless net or going to Starbucks for T-Mobile's wireless net, than at home.

    The melting snow is a bitch on the connection (Spokane, WA).

    SSH is painful for any interactive work. Latency is a pain and games are shot. Bandwidth caps mean you aren't going to be grabbing 3-disk .iso sets very often.

    While it can take a bit to disrupt the DOWNWARD signal, it is much easier to screw your UPLINK signal to the point it doesn't work. Thus, TV is less affected than internet connections.

    However, if you have no other option, it beats dialup. It depends, though. Are you far enough out that the phone lines are crap and you are getting 14.4-28.8 dial in? Or are you just in a good area but without DSL/cable?

    If the latter, look for an ISP that will allow you to bond two dialup links. Get two phone lines and two modems and get them to bond into one link. Also check out ISDN, though it may be expensive.

    -Charles
  • by Rayooz (22049) <`nayan' `at' `chikli.com'> on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:22PM (#8091094) Homepage
    Rob, I too live just outside Ann Arbor in Saline. In my area there is no DSL or cable either.

    A guy in my neighborhood has a T1 to his house and sells service off it for $35/month, using Motorola's Canopy [canopywireless.com]. he can get up to a 10 mile radius, so it's possible that you're within range.

    As a result, you get 1.5Mbps (shared) upstream AND downstream, which is better than most cable service. It's been very reliable, and cheaper than cable too.

    Anyone who's interested, drop me a note and I can give you the info.

  • by Goldenhawk (242867) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:34PM (#8091231) Homepage
    My personal experiences...

    Latency sucks. I'm actively looking for an alternate (I can't get DSL, I can't get wireless, I can't get two-way cable). But I will say that DirecWay is MUCH better than a modem - in most cases.

    Latency is not so much a problem for browsing, surprisingly, because if you're used to a modem, you wait longer by far for content to arrive. With the DirecWay software running (on a 3000/4000 box), or with the 6000 system, the thing is smart enough to ask for all the subitems on a page at once, so once the stuff starts arriving, it gets there pretty fast.

    The real problem with latency, surprisingly, is EMAIL. As you know, it's a challenge/reply system, where it's necessarily linear - you can't multitask it. So every step takes 2 seconds - which means for checking about five POP3 mailboxes with a dozen saved messages each, and downloading a dozen new messages, can take upwards of 3 or 4 minutes. I usually hit my email button, walk away, and come back later. And when I'm home, I just leave it running all the time. Not worrying about dialing up is sweet.

    Same thing with FTP - if you manage a web site, like I do, it can be REALLY painful working with FTP, since the linear nature of THAT transaction is also very slow with high latency connections. Uploading or downloading a hundred small files totalling 100K takes well near forever (10-20 minutes), even though you could do it over ethernet in a second or two.

    Finally, browsing any secure site is very slow - since the system doesn't do its magic compression / multi-request with https. So there's really no browsing acceleration there. So each image, or .js file, or whatever, comes in with a 2 second lag. For complex sites (which is MOST commercial sites with https connections) it can be pretty slow. I simply use Mozilla's "block images from this server" trick most of the time.

    Uploading anything is REALLY REALLY REALLY SLOW. You're better off uploading over a modem - no kidding. I usually see 2.8k upload speeds. Much worse than I used to see with a modem with decent software compresssion. And that's WITH DrTCP optimizations applied. Since I market software and must download 10Mb installers to my web site regularly, I've learned to just start them at bedtime, and check it in the morning to be sure it finished.

    Downloading large files is amazing - nothing to complain about - 10 Mb downloads are painless and I don't even think twice about requesting them anymore, even via email.

    I personally haven't yet hit the FAP limit once. So I have no complaints about the capping. Of course, I'm not downloading full Linux installs or anything - just an occasional 10 or 20Mb demo installer for some software. And I don't traffic in MP3s or other multimedia.

    Installation was quite easy - I have a friend who's an installer, and he gave me the mount and cable ahead of time, so I ran my own cable and did the mount the way I like it (lots of roofing tar, extra heavy lag bolts, etc.) I couldn't do the dish install because of the FCC requirements, but after my own pre-installation, my friend was able to get the dish mounted and pointed within about 10 minutes. No problem. Be sure to account for TWO RG6QS cables - not just one - to carry both the send and receive modems.

    I have had some difficulty with the "commissioning" - where the receiver downloads the adapter keys - when I turn the thing off for a week while I'm out of town, it typically takes an hour or two before it's up and running again. That can be very irritating while it's resolved.

    As with other posters, I've only had a few instances of rain fade, and usually very brief.

    I've never had a real problem with tech support - they're usually slow to answer the phone but once I get a person we usually have the problem resolved fairly quickly. There was one exception where the guy must have been from Pakistan, couldn't really speak English, and obviously didn't want to hear what I had to say, was just reading a scrip
  • by Omega1045 (584264) on Monday January 26, 2004 @02:38PM (#8091295)
    If IDSL is not available (my previous suggestion), you might check on getting a simple T1 to your house. Another friend of mine in rural Iowa ordered a T1, then bought some Cisco Aironet equipment w/ the big antennae. He provides high-speed "no tech support" Internet service to a few of his closest neighbors to help reduce the cost of the T1. At $20/neighbor, he managed to pay off his equipment and is now making enough money to upgrade equipment.

    If I recall, he bought a regular desktop PC and put Linux on it. I think he put a proxy server on it to help cut down on the traffic. I know he got a domain and put up SMTP/POP to provide email for his neighbors. I don't think he is doing any port 80 traffic.

  • by FreeLinux (555387) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:08PM (#8091743)
    One of the nice things about sites like Google and Slashdot is that they load rather quickly. Slashdot is not yet plagued by things like countless useless animations, excessive graphics and flash. I can't help but feel that is has a lot to do with the fact that Taco is viewing the site over a dialup connection.

    If he moves to high-speed access I fear that it will only be a short while before new web "features" start taking over the site and it becomes as slow as all the rest.

    I have always maintained that web developers should be forced to use their sites over bad dial-up connections so that they keep things compact and don't overload the site with bloated images and useless animation like so many do. There is nothing worse than being stuck behind a hotel PBX and having to work or access web sites via a 19200 dial-up connection.

    Gee Bob, I really don't apreciate you sending me the HTML email with that ugly stationary theme and the 1 meg image in your sig!!! That inane "Wassup" message took ten figging minutes to download!!!!!
  • by Ath (643782) on Monday January 26, 2004 @03:16PM (#8091820)
    If you actually give DirecTV money, I suggest you get familiar with their 100,000 lawsuit/letter compaign against purchasers of completely legal ISO programmers.

    "In Germany, they first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came for me -- and by that time there was nobody left to speak up." -Martin Niemoller

    Nobody is suggesting you do anything other than stop giving them your money. Especially as you can get DISH and have the same capabilities.
  • by Lord of the Files (10941) on Monday January 26, 2004 @04:22PM (#8092619) Homepage
    It's hard to find this out, but the standard direcway service nat's you. You do not have a publically routable ip address, let alone a static one. Upgrading to a commercial package can get you a static ip. The nat boxes also tend to kill long running connections (i.e. if you leave ssh running logged in somewhere).

    The standard satellite modem (for lack of better name) doesn't work well in linux. Hughes has a patent on the LZJH compression algorithm. DirecWay forces you to use IP compression for port 80 connections with the LZJH compression algorithm. So linux drivers have trouble with web traffic.

    The latency is awful. During peak hours (afternoon on) ping times get up to 2 seconds. I've never seen them below 700 ms. Some web pages that open a lot of connections to download small items feel slower over the satellite link than over dial up.

    Finally Hughes has a fair access policy the details of which they won't share. As far as anyone can tell they're using token bucket qos with a bucket of about 150 megs and and a fill rate of 56kbps. What this means is that if you doenloaded nonstop all day you'd get 56kbps. You're just allowed to save up some of your bandwidth and use it all at once, so the connection feels faster.

    Weather has lousy effects on connection quality. Heavy cloud cover can mess it up occaisionally. Mostly though the problem is rain storms. A good thunder storm can knock out the connection completely until it passes. The DirecWay service is much more suceptible to weather related problems than satellite tv is.

    Essentially it's ok for large downloads (although be sure to find someone's script to tune the linux ip stack settings, or large downloads will stall partway through.) Most stuff is painful over it. We keep a dial up account with a local isp for ssh , and times the link isn't working. I'm a very unhappy customer. I didn't believe a lot of the complaints I read about DirecWay because the complaints were so negative they didn't sound believable. 4 hours after we had the installation completed I discovered that by and large the complaints are all true.

  • by John Murdoch (102085) on Monday January 26, 2004 @06:17PM (#8093878) Homepage Journal

    Hi!

    I'm in rural America, and I've used a variety of methods for Internet access over the years: a 56K frame-relay circuit, ISDN, a fractional T-1 circuit, and now DirecWay. Some thoughts:

    • DirecWay ain't a T-1 circuit
      There is little comparison. The "two-way" DirecWay service is high-speed download, and essentially 56K upload. If you're doing a lot of uploading (particularly of graphics) that's a bad thing. If you're uploading text, it isn't that noticeable. On the other hand, you definitely will notice the latency. It's annoying.

      On the other hand, DirecWay is dramatically cheaper. You can buy the "modem" up front and pay $59/month, or capitalize the "modem" over 15 months for a total charge of $99/month; after 15 months your rate drops to $59/month. I viewed the cost of the device as equivalent to buying a router--its a capital expense. I can tell you with a broad smile on my face that $59/month is a LOT cheaper than the $450/month I was paying for a fractional T-1. (I dropped the T because I'm no longer doing offsite development for clients--I took a full-time position, so I don't have as much need for the bandwidth.)
    • You will need two dishes
      We learned this the hard way: DirecWay and DirecTV actually broadcast from different satellites. The way they provide service from both is to aim the dish at a compromise position. The result is poor signal strength from either TV or Internet. Our satellite guy came out last week, saying that DirecWay had emailed all of their installers to install a separate TV dish. It makes your roof more cluttered ("I heard you went to work for client," said a neighbor. "Was it the NSA?") but it will definitely settle the question of who is the biggest geek on the block.
    • Once you're past the latency, it rocks
      Once you're past that initial latency hit, download speed is remarkable. While there were benefits to having the T-1 circuit, I'm 28,000 feet from the CO, so packet loss was a persistent problem. Internet radio [radioparadise.com] is better, and watching broadband TV is MUCH better.

    Overall, we're very happy with it.

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