Claim and Reality

Tooway have issued a statement on their support blog about actual bandwidth versus the ‘headline’ claims of 20Mbpb/6Mbps throughput. You can read it here.

This is all entirely unsurprising, given the basic economics of satellite communications.

Tooway (and, by extension, their resellers) are however being somewhat disingenuous, in that people only subscribe to their service because there is no viable alternative. Such customers are also likely to be inherently heavy users as they are more likely to live in remote areas and therefore do more of their day-to-day activities online and in their homes rather than travelling to the shops, cinemas, concerts etc. So the notion of a ‘heavy’ user at the thresholds that Tooway define mean that a very large proportion of users are going to fall into that class.

If Tooway have predicated their entire business model on a ‘light’ usage model for their service, they are simply not going to be able to deliver on those claims.

And that is something that already seems to be happening, for those of their 83 spot beams that have the highest level of subscription – it appears that there are increasingly few times when the headline throughput can be delivered, for any user.

Locally, the problem is not yet so bad: According to Avonline, the spot beam covering our area of Scotland currently (as of October 2013) has about 2500 subscribers. Their view is that saturation on that link occurs at 10-12,000 subscribers. At that level of usage, the determining factor on throughput seems to be whether or not your link is being throttled by Tooway. And the way they set that up appears (and this is guesswork) to be related to short-term demand monitoring on the service.

That of course will change as subscription uptake continues and it remains to be seen whether Tooway and their resellers actually stop taking new subscriptions for areas where the link is effectively saturated.

Thanks to James Thrift for pointing me at this posting – for some unaccountable reason, Avonline/Tooway haven’t gone as far as distributing it directly to their customers.

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