Satellite connectivity creates more questions and churn than any other form of connectivity, primarily because it is often mis-sold. A modern KA-based system is quick to deploy, relatively cheap and has enticing headline speeds of up to 20Mbps download and 6Mbps upload. However, there are some significant limitations, firstly the receiving dish requires ‘line of sight’ to the southern horizon which often means it needs some height to see over buildings trees.
Secondly, the standard consumer and business packages are contended meaning the available bandwidth is shared with other satellite users – this may be as high as 50:1 leading to erratic and poor performance. There are alternative services such as ‘Newspotter’ which have lower or no contention but the cost of these is significantly higher. The cost of data on satellite can also be quite expensive, especially outside of the standard packages.
The big problem with satellite is latency – the time it takes for packets of data to traverse up and down to the satellite, this will always be around 600ms and causes issues for any ‘real-time’ type applications such as online gaming, voice (VoIP), two way video (video streaming is fine) and most VPN services. Even normal web browsing is a very different experience on satellite compared to other methods of connectivity.
All things considered though satellite has its place and is widely used, for some needs such as video streaming or very quick deployments where no other service is available, it is ideal. The key point is setting expectations correctly.