Wi-Fi using satellites launched

Hughes Network Systems has launched a Wi-Fi service that originates from satellites circling as high as 24,400 miles above the...

Hughes Network Systems has launched a Wi-Fi service that originates from satellites circling as high as 24,400 miles above the earth.

The geostationary satellites rotate in sync with the earth and so appear to be stationary in the sky.

The satellite service called Direcway will be sold as a backhaul solution to wireless service providers and to companies looking to offer wireless internet service to customers in areas that traditional backhaul service providers cannot reach.

According to Mahessh Bhave, vice-president for new business development at Hughes, the company  will target camping parks and mariners in its first efforts with a leased service to private companies also on the list of potential customers.

The peak downlink is 600Kbps to 1Mbps while the uplink is 30Kbps to 80Kbps, according to Bhave. However, uplink and downlink performance is dependent on the number of simultaneous users, peak busy hours and the quality of service that providers select.

The Hughes wholesale service uses geostationary satellites which transmit to a local provider's satellite dish connected to a Hughes terminal. The terminals in turn are connected to access points. To the end-user with a wireless card in a laptop, the service will perform like any other Wi-Fi service.

The satellites also communicate with Hughes network operation centres which will handle management, subscriptions and billing.

Service is available now with a number of pilot programmes already under way in California.

Ephraim Schwartz writes for InfoWorld

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