Many customers in rural areas are unable to get internet connections to their farms, cabins, and acreages. This is typically due to issues with infrastructure and the cost of accessibility to those regions. To help provide internet, which has been classified as an essential service, Xplornet has created a 4G network of satellites to provide coverage in these hard to reach areas. Because satellites can cover such a large area under a single beam, the cost to deploy these services can be cheaper than traditional cable supplied bandwidth.
There are two primary types of satellites in orbit that provide internet services to us on earth - Fixed position satellites (Geostationary orbits) and LEO or Low Earth Orbit satellites. The different types provide different services and have unique requirements for each. Xplornet deploys Fixed position 4G satellites for their broadband network.
While companies such as SpaceX and Amazon deploy LEO satellite solutions, Xplornet has an older, more proven system using Geostationary fixed positioning - this means the dish is locked in orbit about 33,000km above the earths equator and does not move.
The dish is configured with a panel to send and receive data from a downlink station on earth as well as a panel to provide bandwidth on the RF spectrum to its subscriber services via a dish mounted on the homes of customers. The downlink provider sends your data out using a fibre network and utilizes high throughput 4G panels to achieve the lowest latency (ping) possible. Due to the far distances traveled by Fixed position satellite services, this ping will always be around 600-1400ms depending on location and service you are connecting with.
What is ping? — Ping time, also known as latency, is the measurement of time for a round trip on a single connection from one point to another. An example of this is if you attempted to connect to Direct Web Solutions website, your connection must first send a request to the satellite, back to earth, across the fibre network to a DNS (Domain Name Server) Provider, translate the IP from the Domain, send that information back to through to you, and then attempt to connect to that IP through the same process. Normally this is done in as few as 10ms but due to the nature of Satellite and the distances traveled, it is in the range of 600-1400ms per trip to receive and send this information.
What is download / upload speed? — Your download and upload speed is the bandwidth throughput speed that affects how fast you can load a file or page after the initial connection. When you are browsing a webpage or viewing emails, this will not be as noticeable on a satellite connection because of the delay in initial loading times, however, the overall bandwidth speed will affect loading of services such as video streaming, audio streaming, and uploading or downloading large files.
How much speed do I need? — This can vary depending on how many people are in your home or what you are using the service for. A general rule of thumb for Satellite services is if there are 1-3 people in the home and one person will be using it consistently, a 5Mbps plan would be sufficient. If two or more people need to use the system at the same time, a 10Mbps plan is recommended, and if more than 3 people will be using the system at the same time, a 25Mbps package is suggested.
Why does satellite buffer? — Buffering or lag spikes while watching streaming services are common with Fixed Position satellites. This is because they are designed for 1:1 connections and services like Netflix and Prime like to break connections up and serve them simultaneously to download faster and more efficiently. That's not to say streaming is not possible with a Satellite service, but the experience will not be nearly as good as an LTE or hardwired connection. This system is designed for basic web browsing and checking emails.
We do not list the current rate plans for satellite here as they are subject to change — If you would like to see the current satellite rate card please click the Sign up for Xplornet button located at the top of this page. There we will keep the most current rate plan available to our customers for both Satelite and LTE plans. You can also contact our team directly for information on pricing.
When choosing which service may be best for you, the biggest factor will be location of your property. Satellite technology is available almost anywhere, whereas LTE (Long-Term Evolution) is tower based and requires LoS (Line-of-Sight) with the tower to be possible. Below are some of the Pro's and Cons of the Satellite system including some general comparison to the LTE network.
- Wide availability — This system can be accessed from almost anywhere and is fairly straight forward to set up. As long as you are in the footprint of a satellite beam and have a clear view of the sky to the south, you should be able to connect to the satellite system.
- Easy to deploy — The satellite system can be mounted to any fixed structure such as a pole, house, wall, or roof. With a single RG6 cable, the system can be fully mounted and aligned in a shorter time than LTE networks. This allows for shorter cable runs and cheaper install and repair times.
- Low power consumption — Satellite systems are powered over the RG6 cable and use a lower level of power to operate. This means you can run the system at the cabin without worrying about if your generator can power it up!
- Limited data caps — Because of the limited throughput and higher customer loads on Satellite networks, they are unable to offer the same data usage as conventional and tower based services. This is to enable a fair usage to the other customers on the system - That being said, satellite plans do have the option of 'unlimited' data, but the data is slowed down significantly after you reach your data threshold - Similar to a cellular based plan.
- Higher plan pricing — Because the satellite network is located in space, maintaining this service costs a lot more for providers. This extra cost means customers will have to pay higher access fees per month to obtain an internet connection. For this reason alone, we suggest an LTE network install over satellite wherever possible.
- Lower download / upload speed — Xplornet has worked hard to deploy highspeed 4G satellite technology on as many beams as possible but due to the technical limitations with the technology on the Geostationary interface, they cannot offer the same download and upload speeds as Tower based or Cable based internet solutions. This is not the case with SpaceX or Amazon satellites as they are LEO and can connect to multiple ground stations as well as link to other satellites to provide a higher throughput speed.
- High ping (latency) — Due to the sheer distance alone, Fixed Position Satellite service will always have a higher ping time than land based or LEO services. As previously stated this can be between 600 - 1400 ms, usually around 780ms in most cases. Due to this high latency services such as online gaming, Vo-IP, Skype, Zoom, and streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime will stutter, or may not work at all.
- Service outages — The final, and frankly largest, CON of the Satellite system is weather caused service outages. Because you need to be able to see the sky, both on uplink to the Satellite, and downlink to the Earth, weather can cause outages on the system. As the downlink provider is located in the East coast, coastal weather can knock the entire system offline even though the weather is clear on this side of the country. Likewise, the system is heavily affected by wind, rain, and snow.