Sunday, July 27, 2014

Who Needs Satellite Internet, Anyway?

Why Even Consider Slow,  Expensive Satellite?
So, who does need satellite Internet these days?

Clearly, the number of folks for whom satellite is the best (only?) Internet solution has gotten much smaller since January 2002, when Joe and I started using it.

There are two primary reasons for this:

  • Cellular build-out - Cell towers have popped up everywhere. There are now 322.9 million subscribers in the US. That's a whopping 103% penetration rate. And, there are 256,920 cell sites. Later, I'll discuss the organization that supplied this data in a June 2011 report.
  • RV Park Wi-Fi - RV Park Wi-Fi was rare when we started full-time RVing in January 1999. Now it is a necessary amenity, if an RV park wants to attract visitors.

The Cellular Build-out
While searching for the number of cellular subscribers and the amount of coverage, what I was really looking for was:
What is the percentage of US area that does not have cellular coverage?
That is a very relevant piece of information, for someone trying to decide if it's worth the expense and extra hassle of bulky satellite Internet equipment. 

I  decided it was sufficient to simply state that there ARE still locations in the US without cellular coverage. For those who want to see this on a US map, please check out the Cellular Coverage Map. It shows the coverage anywhere in the US. You can zoom in and see the areas which have no coverage.

If you like to RV in any of those places ... or, if there is an oil field where you stay in some of those places ... then the odds are incredibly high that, without satellite, you won't have an Internet connection.

If you are in an RV park, they might have Wi-Fi. But, if there is no cellullar service in the area, the park Wi-Fi could be overloaded and slow, if you can even connect. 

We have customers who attend the Burning Man Festival ... we have a customer who spends a week on a houseboat on Lake Powell every year. These are just two of the places that don't yet (ever?) have cellular coverage.

RV Park Wi-Fi
As I said earlier, RV park Wi-Fi has become an amenity that is mandatory to many RVers ... mainly to those who don't have a cellular card for Internet or a satellite VSAT system.

While there are exceptions, Wi-Fi in an RV Park has always been pretty unreliable, in general. Typical problems include the following:
  • Too many RVers for the Internet connection - This results in very slow page loads and/or many page-load timeouts.
  • Too many RVers for the Wi-Fi network - This results in very slow page loads or the inability to connect to the network.
  • Inability to connect to the network from your RV site - This mean you have to go to the clubhouse for Internet access, unless you move to another site with a stronger signal.
  • Connection keeps dropping - This can be caused by an overloaded network, not enough connection antennas, or trees blowing in the wind and interfering with the signal. In any case, it makes it difficult to enjoy using the Internet.

Is Satellite Internet My Only Real Option?
A question to ask yourself is:
1. Am I OK with occasionally needing to either drive or walk somewhere ... or do without Internet?
If you like to park in the areas without coverage on a regular basis, then answer the above question, but with the word "occasionally" removed!

If your answer is a resounding "No!" then satellite may be your solution!

Another question to ask is:
2. Am I planning on streaming LOTS of video?
Again, a "No" response is the correct one for satellite Internet ... they have satellite TV for that!

The third question to ask is:
3. Will I mind setting up the tripod and big dish or will the latency of satellite drive me crazy?
Another "No" is the best response.

In this case, three "No's" DO make a (satellite) right! 

Please explore our web site, for more info.

The CTIA-The Wireless Association
An organization called CTIA-The Wireless Association produces a semi-annual wireless industry survey. I've heard of the CTIA, but I couldn't remember what CTIA stood for, so I did a little more searching and learned the following, which I hope you will find as interesting as I did.

Is CTIA an Acronym?
CTIA is actually an orphan acronym initialism, since it's an unpronounceable string of initials that no longer stands for anything.

When the organization was founded in 1984, it was called the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA). In 2000, CTIA merged with the Wireless Data Forum and became the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (still CT&IA).

In 2004,the name was changed to CTIA-The Wireless Association® because it better represents the now-diverse membership of service providers, manufacturers, wireless data and Internet companies, as well as other contributors to the wireless universe.

Request For Topic Suggestions
Please leave comments if you enjoy this blog ... any suggestions for future topics would be greatly appreciated.

1 comment:

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