FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Questions Relating to Satellite:

What is satellite broadband?

Broadband is the term used to describe 'fast' speeds (data rates) to access the Internet. By 'fast' is meant speeds several times the speeds traditionally achieved over the older telephone modems/ISDN lines (up to 64kbps).

First early definitions of broadband referred to speeds up to 512kbps (1/2 Mbps), but today a speed of up to 2Mbps is considered as the minimum data rate expected for broadband access. It was Satellite systems that were the first to deliver broadband downlinks up to 2Mbps to homes on the downlink (from the Internet to your computer).

Today satellite supports much faster broadband links without the problems of distance to the exchange found on terrestrial systems. Satellite is therefore an important technology to deliver broadband Internet to the many people and businesses that get poor or no broadband service via terrestrial networks.For most people a speed of up to 10Mbps is adequate for most needs.

What does installation involve?

Installation of a two-way satellite terminal is more complex than a receive-only terminal (such as Sky TV). This is because the dish must be pointed much more accurately to meet the stringent transmit requirements. Therefore a professional installer will visit your site. Good quality installation is the most critical issue for reliable satellite broadband.

Normally a site survey is not required, though if needed we can arrange this..

In most cases the dish will be wall mounted, though alternatives do exist if this is not possible (e.g. for line of sight to the satellites). The installer will first locate a clear line of sight to the satellite and then consult with you on where best to mount the dish. The Installer will then mount and accurately point the dish at the satellite. One cable is routed from the radio transciever on the dish into your house to where the satellite indoor unit (IDU or modem) is located. Again the best routing of this cable will be agreed with you. Once connected, the installer will configure the terminal using a laptop or smart phone and then carry out an autocommissioning test. After these tests are completed your satellite terminal will be ready to be used. The installer will demonstrate Internet access to you.

Is satellite broadband reliable?

Satellite communication technology has been around for nearly 50 years providing reliable service to millions of users worldwide. Once a terminal is installed with a clear sight of the satellite the signal is able to get to and from the Internet. There are no cables to break, relay stations to fail, flooding at the exchange nor is there any issue depending how far you are from the exchange.

Satellite broadband is used by the military, emergency services, banks, hospitals and many other mission critical applications where reliability is a top priority. Satellite networks today are designed to provide better than 99.5% availability (i.e. less than 44 hours network downtime in a year) which is a higher specification than many other networks in operation today.

The equipment installed at your site is designed to compensate for nearly all weather conditions that you will experience in the region.With today's technology once a terminal has been installed, you can expect the terminal to work without equipment failure for over five years.

Unless you need to use an application where response time is critical (i.e. requiring less than 700msec. response time), the latency over the satellite will have little affect on the running of your applications. Thus we do not recommend a satellite link for fast interactive games, however it is perfect for web browsing, file transfer, video/audio streaming, email, telephony, video conferencing, distance education, etc. 50% of installed two-way satellite interactive terminals are located in the USA and Western Europe, thus satellite is clearly not a system just for where terrestrial networks are unavailable.

One critical issue for reliable satellite broadband is the quality of the installation. Most failures that require a site visit are found to be due to poor installation. That is why Prime Satellite Broadband only uses trained, accredited, professional installers who are continuously quality monitored. Thus we will ensure that your installation will be of high quality to give you trouble-free Internet access. All Installation work is warranted for 12 months.

Is the satellite link affected by weather?

The dish and mount used are designed to withstand winds of over 120mph and it is important that the wall or whatever the dish is mounted on is also strong enough to withstand these pressures. Our professional installers will check that the structure that they mount the dish on is adequate. For this reason we generally do not install the dish on chimneys unless they are structurally strong enough.Is the satellite link affected by weather? Rain, mist and snow do cause the satellite radio signals to deteriorate (through attenuation and additional signal noise). Modern satellite systems are able to adapt the power and use adaptive error correction techniques to compensate for these changes at a single terminal level. The dish size and transmit power of the transciever are set so that under normal UK weather conditions (including rain and clouds) the standard settings give very good signal levels. In heavier rain or snow the system automatically adjusts power and error correction to keep the link working. If there is a severe storm resulting in a rainfall akin to a cloud burst or a very heavy blizzard, then the signal will deteriorate or sometimes be lost completely. In the UK and Ireland these extreme weather conditions are rare (3 or 4 times a year) and generally last about 5 to 10 minutes.

In heavy snowfalls and persistant freezing weather you may experience a loss of signal due to snow or ice accumulating on the dish or the transciever feedhorn. Using a soft brush you can wipe away the snow and ice to restore your link. Do be careful that you do not scratch or break the dish or feedhorn and never go up ladders of high places in icy or windy conditions.

What is latency?

Latency is the time that it takes to get a response back after a request is made across the Internet link. Thus it includes the time that a request takes to go from your computer through the Internet to the destination remote server and then back again.

Satellite systems have high latency due to the distance from Earth to the satellite (approx. 24,350 miles). The radio waves travel at the speed of light and take about 260 milliseconds to travel from the satellite terminal dish to the satellite and then back down to the Earth station dish. It will take another 260 milliseconds for the response to travel from the Earth station dish to the satellite and then back down to the satellite terminal dish. Thus we have 520 msec. latency just for the data to travel between Earth and the satellite. There is also time required for the data to travel through the Internet and processing in the satellite network. Typically the latency will vary between 600 msec. to 800 msec. with an average of 700msec on a satellite link.

There is no physical possible way of decreasing the latency across fixed location satellite links, however there are many methods used to alleviate the effects of this latency so that most applications work fine over a satellite link. Over 1 million satellite terminals worldwide are a testament to this.

Due to the high latency over satellite fast interactive gaming is not recommended over satellite links.

What is data volume and throttling?

Data volume is the amount of data usually measured in 1000 million bytes (a GByte) over a period of time (e.g. a calendar month or 30 days etc.).

Everyone is different with different reasons for using the Internet. Some will be light users (low data volume) and others heavy users (high data volume). Satellite broadband is the same as all other broadband systems and the bandwidth (defined as the headline 'up to' data rate) is shared by many users. We can talk about contention - the number of people sharing the link to the Internet, but this is not very useful as people use the Internet at different times and we also need to know whether the users are light or heavy users - You may get better service with 100 light users on a link than 20 heavy users!

To be able to ensure the quality of the service it is important to define who are light users and who are the heavy users. This is done by defining usage in terms of the actual volume of data that is transferred through your satellte terminal. Data is measured in units called Bytes and monthly data usage defined in the number of GBytes (Giga Bytes - 1000 million Bytes). A fair policy is therefore used whereby people pay for how much they use each month or 30 day period. Thus services are defined in terms of GBytes used per month and the more GBytes required the higher the price of the service. Thus we can manage the network to ensure that there is enough capacity in the network with good quality services with everyone paying a tariff based on what they actually use.

One way of managing the network based on data volume limits is to use a tool called throttling. Throttling is the term used where the data rates are reduced greatly to low levels (such as 64kbps) when the data volume limit is reached. This may be to the end of the calendar month (and the count reset to zero and data rates restored at the start of the month) or by rolling periods where the counter is continuous with no reseting to zero such that throttling is executed when the limit over the period just past has been exceeded.

Prime Satellite Broadband uniquely do not use throttling to low data rates. We operate a Fair Usage Policy (FUP) where we will gradually reduce the headline data rate (this is the maximum up to data rate) once you exceed 70% of your monthly data usage limit, though these are still at good broadband speeds. Once you reach your data usage limit we suspend your service and reroute all browser requests to the portal site where you are ableto send messages to our support team. To continue with service you can purchase GByte Boosters or upgrade your service. We do offer an option called Volume Based Billing (VBB) for those who do not wish to have any FUP applied and the service to continue at full speed when you exceed your data usage limit. We invioce any excess data usage the following month.

How can I check the speed of my link?

The satellite modem acts as a standard IP router. This means that it sits between your local equipment (Computers, routers, Etheret switches, etc.) and the satellite link and works with any device that supports standard Internet protocols. Thus it will work with all Computers loaded with Windows (XP or 7, 8, 10 and older versions too) and Apple Macs and any cable router (wireless or wired).

Note that if you want to attach a router (with or without wireless) to the satellite modem it must be a cable router - similar to that used on Virgin Media cable systems. Do not use an ADSL router that is used on a telephone line as the satellite modem's interface is a standard RJ45 Ethernet port.

Therefore you can connect wirelessly to the network using any off-the-shelf wireless cable router purchased from a computer shop or online. Prime Satellite Broadband optionally can provide a wireless cable router - just select this option when ordering. You can connect smart phones and tablets to the link via a wireless router.

What can I connect to my satellite service?

The satellite modem acts as a standard IP router. This means that it sits between your local equipment (Computers, routers, Etheret switches, etc.) and the satellite link and works with any device that supports standard Internet protocols. Thus it will work with all Computers loaded with Windows (XP or 7, 8, 10 and older versions too) and Apple Macs and any cable router (wireless or wired).

Note that if you want to attach a router (with or without wireless) to the satellite modem it must be a cable router - similar to that used on Virgin Media cable systems. Do not use an ADSL router that is used on a telephone line as the satellite modem's interface is a standard RJ45 Ethernet port.

Therefore you can connect wirelessly to the network using any off-the-shelf wireless cable router purchased from a computer shop or online. Prime Satellite Broadband optionally can provide a wireless cable router - just select this option when ordering. You can connect smart phones and tablets to the link via a wireless router.

Can I play online games on satellite broadband?

Yes, but if you play fast interactive games that depend on your reaction time, then it is not recommended due to the high latency (response time) over the satellite link. Games that do not require fast interactive responses will work well and many custmers successfully play these games over our satellite links.

In some situations when using some consoles, you may need to ensure certain the messages (called packets) received over the Internet are correctly transferred to the console. This may require port forwarding to be set up on your router. We can support you for this set up and on request set up your satelite modem as a bridge rather than a router so you can control the destination of specific packets through your own router. Instructions to set up this on your router are usually found on your console's support web site.

When can I expect to have service after order?

Prime Satellite Broadband seeks to install within 2 weeks from order. Often we can do better than that. The main issue is your location and the availability of an installer to visit you. Installers aim to be booked up at all times so typically they have to find a slot in their schedule to arrange the visit. Prime Satellite Broadband aims to always have stock available to send to you (or the installer in some cases) so this is rarely a cause of delay.

If a site survey is deemed necessary or requested, then this may delay the installation.

We will always liaise with you to confirm the installation date. Your service will start immediately after installation has been completed.

Do VPNs work over satellite?

Yes, they do. There are many different VPN products on the market and it is true that a very small minority do have difficulty working over satellite. In most cases this is because these products are intolerant of the latency over the satellite. Most manufacturers, however, have fixed this as many people want to use VPN over mobile phone links or from long distances both which can introduce latency equivalent or higher to that on satellite links. You do not need a static public IP address with many VPN products since they are designed to work with dynamic IP addresses. This is a result of the increased need for people to set up VPNs while traveling or from home using cable modem broadband where dynamic IP addressing is used.

The real question to ask is what is the performance of VPN over high latency links such as satellite. With satellite latency of around 700ms the encryption of the Internet protocol header (TCP/IP) on some VPNs results in a limitation of the maximum data rate you can achieve for each session (around 64kbps for default settings in PCs). Please contact Prime Satellite Broadband if you wish to use a VPN over the satellite link for advise. We recommend use of SSL VPN over satellite links, but there are solutions available for other VPNs.

Questions relating to 4G LTE broadband

What is 4G LTE broadband?

4G LTE broadband uses a Data SIM card that is inserted into a 4G LTE router to provide a broadband service to your house or office. if you have a mobiile mast relatively close to you speeds will be at least as good as 20Mbps ADSL services, ut can be as high as 60Mbps which is comparablle to many fibre links. 4G LTE is a wireless technology so you do not need a telephone line to use. 4G LTE speeds do vary depending on the distance from the mast same as ADSL and fibre depend on the distance to the exchange or cabinet. However, we can provide aeriels outdoors to greatly improve the speed you can get.

How do I know if 4G LTE broadband works at my Location?

The firat step is to check the mobile operator's coverage checker on their web page. Vodafone, O2 and EE all have these. however, these coverage maps are only a guide and the speed you get at your location may differ.

While there exists specialist equipment to test the strength of signals and we can provide a site survey service, the best way to find out if you can get a good speed is to use a standard 4G smartphoone and install a speed checker app and test. You should test indoors and outdoors, and all sides of your house to find the best signal and speed available. We do recommend that you test both the Vodafone and O2 service if possible, but we understand this is not always easy. As long as you find a service that gives good speeds ten that should be fine.

Note that if you are at the edge of the coverage or if you find that your speeds are disappointing compared with the coverage map, do speak with us as it may be possible to install a high gain aerial that provides a good enough speed for your requirement. We can locate where masts are locaated in relation to your house/office and can determine if such an approach would be successsful. With our EE service using a high gain aerial system is standard.

Can I self-install 4G LTE Broadband?

If you have good speeds indoors, then you can easily self-install your 4G LTE broadband as we will send you a SIM card and if ordered, a wireless router that is already configured for use.

If you need an outdoor aerial installed, then you can do this yourself and we will assist you with information required for a successful installation. we do offer an optional installatiion service that you can order from us. We only guarantee installations that we perform.

Which mobile operators do we use?

Currently for our standard services we use the Vodafone and O2 mobile operator services, though we hope to add EE in the future.

We do have an EE service for leased line equivalent requirements. We are able to install these EE systems at the very edge of coverage often even if an EE phone states that there is no service.

How do i check the speed of my broadband?

You can use any broadband speed checker that you prefer. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the speed checker you use. We regularly use www.speedtest.net which seems to wok fine, however, we do not recommend any specific speed checker.

Why use Prime Satellite Broadband for 4G LTE?

As a Satellite service provider, Prime Satellite Broadband has years of experince with wireless technologies and providing broadband to those with poor or no cable broadband services.

For our Vodafone and O2 based services we have the ability to provide you with visibility on a portal of your broadband usage. We can provide this for more than one SIM so you can see all your services in one place. With our moniitoring function we are able to provide you with an extra valuable level of support. As a Company, Prime Satellite broadband aims to always be Best of Industry and this applies to all our services.

Prime Satellite Broadband can also provide you with a very high resilience broadband service using both 4G LTE and satellite so that your link will stay working nearly 100% of the time. If you are intending to use your 4G LTE service in a moving vehicle, we can also provide you with dual SIM systems using Vodafone and O2 so that if only one service is available you will be able too gain access to broadband in more places. For mission critical applications/vehicles we can also provide a motorised dish solution (vehicle mounted or on a flyaway) so that you have a broadband link even outside the 4G LTE coverage areas.