Satellite Broadband Services

Summary

Satellite broadband services can locally provide stop-gap solutions pending the roll-out of the Community Broadband Scotland and Step Change 2015 projects. They can also provide in-fill coverage to properties that may remain beyond the cost-effective reach of current or forthcoming terrestrial solutions.

A pilot installation of Eutelsat’s Tooway Ka band satellite broadband service, provided by Avonline, a Tooway reseller, has been operating in Balquhidder since September 2013. 

Note: this should be read in conjunction with this later article, describing, from experience, the basic failings with the commercial model of satellite internet provision.

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Continuing Packet Loss

Right since I started using Tooway, my monitoring device (a RIPE Atlas monitor) has been recording periods of packet loss on the Tooway network. I’ve raised this several times with Avonline’s technical support but never received a meaningful answer, or indeed one that demonstrates that they understand the issues. Periods of packet loss do not appear to correlate with heavy precipitation.

So, until proven otherwise, we have to assume that this is an inherent property of their service. So what does that mean?

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Traffic Shaping

Avonline have supplied their “Absolute” package, which was the introductory Tooway package. It provides – in principle – unlimited usage, subject to their Fair Access Policy (FAP). What that effectively means is that, if  you go over 60GB (that’s what I was told – the FAP now says 50GB) usage in a rolling 30 day period, you are subject to throttling of your download and upload speeds until the peaks of high usage ‘fall off’ the rolling calendar. That throttling applies between 0700 and 2300 every day, but even data usage outwith those times count towards the calculation. Continue reading Traffic Shaping

Glacial Progress…

Continuing from last month’s update on attempts to bring the communications available to the three villages area into roughly the same century as the outside world, there’s a little good news and a whole lot of no news: Firstly, with BT awarded government funding under the Step Change 2015 programme to bring a minimum of 2Mb/s to 80% of the rural population, they have announced that they can deliver that level to 93.5% of us. That, whilst it would help a number of the “no-band” areas in the Trossachs, is unlikely make much difference in our area. The way in which BT will deliver this is also unlikely to be future proof in the local area and will deliver a maximum performance that falls far short of current ‘normal’ broadband, let alone the capacity that  that online services are starting to assume as normal and for which they are designing their next generation of services. In effect, if you’re not a urban dweller with fibre cables in your street, you effectively become classed as the ‘rural poor’ and, by definition, don’t matter. 
Continue reading Glacial Progress…

Step Change 2015

This should be good news. But may not be. The Scottish government and, locally, Stirling Council recently announced the results of their £264M Step Change procurement for “superfast” (the quotes are intentional irony) broadband  to 85% of homes and businesses across Scotland by 2015, rising to around 95% by the end of 2017.  But guess where appears to be in the remaining 15%?

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Broadband in Balquhidder

The lack of effective broadband provision in the local area has been an issue since early Celtic times: engravings on local standing stones indicate regular sacrifices of proto-human network executives to propitiate the gods of connectivity. Little has changed since and multiple attempts have been since made to improve the state of local communications. Given  just how critical effective broadband is to economic and social development and the sustainability of rural communities, it may be time to reintroduce human sacrifice…

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Connecting The Glens