One-way satellites span the broadband divide

Can't get ADSL or cable-based broadband? A high-speed downlink via satellite could be the answer, although equipment costs are still a big factor

UK Internet users will soon be able to sign up for a one-way satellite broadband connection that gives unlimited data transfer for £30 per month.

Satellite broadband provider Isonetric announced this week that it is launching a satellite product that will give users a downlink of up to 1Mbps -- much faster than the satellite broadband system currently being trialled by BT.

Isonetric's product is aimed at computer users who can't get affordable broadband because ADSL and cable are not available in their area. Installation and hardware costs could still put off some users, though.

The system should be available from 1 November, and Isonetric is letting people register their interest via its Web site.

At £30 a month, the service is comparable in price to some ADSL-based broadband packages, but the hardware costs are rather higher. The 60cm satellite dish costs £249, on top of which there is a £45 installation fee. Users must sign up for a 12-month contract, and the hardware and installation fees can either be paid up front or spread across the year.

Isonetric's product has one obvious downside compared to ADSL, which the company claims it is competing with -- the broadband connection is only downstream. Customers will need to also run an Internet connection via their phone line to give them an uplink.

Isonetric says that there are no limits on how much data can be downloaded in a month, but it warns that users who download a large amount of data will see their download speed drop from the 400kbps average speed that the company promises. "This offers users who do not download large amounts of data an enhanced browsing experience," Isonetric said.

Another company, Everywhere! Broadband, announced on Wednesday that it plans to offer a one-way satellite broadband product costing just £19.99 per month with an installation fee of £99. Everywhere! Broadband has not yet said when its service will go on sale, though.

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