Hughes Electronics has been struggling with Internet access by satellite for years. Although it can be better than dialup in rural areas with no other options, it’s been wildly unappealing for reasons I detail on this page.
Hughes still feels left out by the rush to broadband over cable and DSL, so it’s going to revamp its satellite broadband lineup, adjusting pricing and claiming that technical advances have solved some of the system’s problems with speed and lag. Here’s an article about Hughes’ plans. There’s another refinanced startup, WildBlue, with similar plans.
I’m skeptical. There’s tricks that can be done with caching, but in the end the speed of light is a tough barrier. Each click on a web page delivered through a satellite has a half-second path to take before a response is delivered to your computer, making the experience feel slow as molasses. They can improve the speed and the reliability and lower the cost, but I don’t know how they can eliminate that lag. Trust me – I lived with it for years. You don’t want to go there.