Satellite Broadband FAQs
What is satellite broadband and how does it work?
Is satellite internet new and experimental
This technology is not new, people have been watching satellite TV for decades, but there have been some recent advances to make satellite technology more suitable for connecting you to the internet.
Unlike TV, internet over satellite requires a two-way connection. Users of satellite broadband both send and receive information to and from the satellite. Changes to how the data is packaged and the infrastructure both in space and on the ground, mean that you can now get much faster speeds; up to 50 Mbps over satellite broadband. That’s faster than many wired connections!
Why do I need a view of the southern Sky?
You need a view of the southern Sky because that is where our satellites are. We use geostationary satellites, meaning they orbit the earth 22,000 miles above the equator and move at the same speed as the earth’s rotation. This means they appear stationary from earth. Because they are along the equator, they are to the south of us here in the UK.
I’ve heard about congestion, what is this and how could it affect my service?
Congestion can occur when lots of people are using the service all at the same time. The word congestion helps us to understand it as the congestion you face on the road is like the congestion you can face getting online. When lots of people try to access the service at the same time, average speeds decline, just like when lots of drivers are trying to drive along the same stretch of road.
As with other broadband services, average speeds will decline during periods of congestion. Congestion is most likely during peak times. This is 5pm-11pm as well as at weekends and during the school holidays. We’ve collated advice from our technical team on how to get the most out of your data and avoid any slow-down at peak times.
What does unlimited usage mean?
Unlike other providers of satellite broadband, we won’t cut you off after you have used all your priority data. However, your average speeds will decline. The below outlines the difference in speed you can expect.
Average speeds for non-prioritised data during peak times were obtained between 1st and 31st May 2020.
Average Speed (Priority Data)
Average Speed (Non-Priority Data)
This drop in speed can affect what you are able to do online, so it’s important you understand how much data you need each month. We recommend you purchase a package that provides enough priority data for the majority of your needs.
These are averages, meaning speeds can drop to lower levels depending on how many other users are on the network at the same time as you. Just like other, wired, internet connections your speed may be slower when lots of other people are using the network at the same time.
What do the different priority data packages allow me to do?
bigblu offer a range of packages with different amounts of priority data to suit your needs. We’ve outlined some examples of what you can do with each package below.
Our bronze package comes with 10GB of priority data – this is our entry level package, ideal for getting online, keeping up with emails and making the odd Skype call. It will not allow you watch multiple movies in HD. For example, with 10 GB of data, in one month you could:
- Browse over 3,000 web pages; or
- Spend 44 hours talking over Skype (without the video on); or
- Watch 28 hours of YouTube
Our silver package comes with 50GB of priority data. This is our most popular package, perfect for families with multiple devices. For example, with 50 GB of data, in one month you could:
- Stream 50 hours of standard definition Netflix; or
- Listen to over 300 hours of audio; or
- Spend 50,000 hours on instant messaging
Our Gold package comes with a huge 100GB of priority data. This is enough to watch movies in HD or even whole box sets in the month. For example, with 100 GB of data, in one month you could:
- Watch 8 films in 4K Ultra HD; or
- Catch up on all 72 episodes of Game or Thrones; or
- Browse the web for over 400 hours.
Our packages our generous, but we urge you to choose the appropriate one for your needs, a month can feel very long if you use up your data in the first week and the examples above are for only each activity in isolation. If you add these together and factor in multiple users, you can use up your priority data very quickly if you don’t select the right package.
Can I check in advance if I can get a clear view to the satellite?
In the business we call this line of sight. You need line of sight to the satellite so that the information can be beamed to your satellite dish without interference. Tall buildings, trees and mountains can all cause issues with line of sight. Our satellite specialists will advise on the best location for your dish, but you can also have a look using this online tool (https://finder.tooway-instal.com/fixe/pages/index.html) to zoom in on your house and see where the satellite needs to be pointing. You can then see if there are any buildings or tall trees that will be in the way.
Alternatively, you can use the KA-Sat finder App which allows you to view the satellite position using your smart phone. This is available in Apple Store or Google Play Store.
How fast is satellite broadband?
We offer speeds up to an average of 36 Mbps. The speed will vary according to your location, and network traffic. At peak hours speeds can drop down into single figures for a time.
Can I use satellite broadband with a wired or wireless router?
Yes, you can use a wired or wireless router to connect your devices. bigblu can supply a wired/wireless router to meet your needs, although it may come at an additional cost. If you feel you will need one – and most of us do these days – then just let us know when you place your order.
How about online gaming with a satellite broadband connection?
Online gaming over a satellite broadband connection is tricky and we do not recommend it. The rapid exchanges of data that many games such as ‘first-person shooter’ or sporting games need to be properly enjoyed present challenges. The time lag involved may lead to frozen screens, and jumpy gameplay.
Does the weather affect my connection?
The honest answer is yes, it can have a negative effect on the signal. For that to happen the weather would need to be extreme.
Can I watch on-demand UK television from abroad?
If you’re lucky enough to have a second home on the continent, the short answer to this question is…. possibly. It will depend on the network availability in your European location. If it’s enough we can offer you a UK IP address, which means you’d be able to access on-demand services as if you were back in the UK. It can be a complicated process so call one of our team to discuss your specific requirements.
Availability and access to UK channels in Europe is changing all the time. So please contact us for up-to-date information. You can also take advantage of the latest crop of ‘watch again’ portals, particularly suited to our larger monthly packages.
Can I access satellite broadband outside Europe with bigblu?
Yes, we provide satellite internet access across a wide range of countries around the world. Please contact us to see if we can get you connected in your location.
How do I know I’ll receive the speeds quoted?
In common with all other broadband technologies, quoted speeds are ‘average’ and not guaranteed. But don’t forget you have a 14-day cooling off period to make up your mind.
Our satellite partners use a sophisticated Network Management Systems to keep things running smoothly, and ensure we’re being fair to all our customers. The systems determine the speed you will receive at any given moment based on network demand at that time, and the data you have used so far in the month. This means one user or group of users can’t use a disproportionate amount of data, affecting other users on the network. It also means our quoted average speeds are more accurate than any other technology available.
How do I know if I need a Pro tariff?
In some cases, you may need a Pro tariff set-up. For example, if you plan to use remote CCTV through your satellite broadband system, then you’ll need open ports which are exclusive to Pro tariff. Or if you plan to link with a Virtual Private Network, then you will need a static IP address, also exclusive to Pro tariff.
Even then, you may experience issues over VPN. We use packet acceleration technology to help data travel the distance to and from your system. With certain VPN connections, information is encrypted, and no acceleration can be applied. So, you might experience performance problems and the system may not work with your VPN.
If this is something you need it will be important for you to speak to our specialists so they can advise on the right package for you. We’re here to help you support any specific requirements, so please call our support team to discuss them.
I’ve heard of latency issues with satellite – what does this mean?
Latency is the delay between when you click something and when you see it. When you click on a link, it sends a signal which must go into space to reach the satellite, down to the satellite base station in Italy and then come back. Most of the delay is from processing and re-transmitting of that signal.
Our satellite broadband uses the very latest software and hardware techniques to minimise latency. When you click to request a webpage, our hardware strips out the messy unnecessary bits, making it much lighter to carry back from space. It helps when handling large file or email downloads.