In July, 2001, I was given an opportunity to write some Technical articles in Belize's Foremost Newspaper - The Reporter (www.belizereporter.com)
They were intended to be written for a general audience, explaining in layman's terms different types of technology available today, and how they could be applied in my country of Belize, Central America. Also important was to address the impending end of the Telecom monopoly in December, 2002, held by the company Belize Telecommunications Ltd.
Here are those articles, appearing in chronological order. I will post a different one each week. Eventually, I may setup an archive containing all of them to date. Please send me your comments! Enjoy!
Hope for Belizean Internet users, especially small companies and Hotels, was seen in the contents of this article..
Satellite Internet - 6/22/2001
It seems that there is an unending stream of obstacles in the way of getting good Internet service in Belize. The extremely high costs, poor bandwidth, and erratic service take their toll on individuals and businesses alike. Now while it may be a long time before these situations change for the better, there does seem to be another solution ‚ If the current laws change as expected.
A possible solution for Belizeans with the cash, or businesses that need reliable connections, may be right over their heads. Two-way Satellite Internet Service! This solution being offered by companies such as StarBand (www.starband.com) and Rural Networks (www.ruralnetworks.com) offers the opportunity to bypass any local Telcoís completely, with your own satellite uplink! This service promises
High-speed Internet, as well as satellite TV programming direct to your home or business! How does it work? You do not even need a phone line to take advantage of this technology! The equipment consists of a single satellite dish, ranging in size depending on location, from 2 to 4 feet. A special satellite modem connects to your PC through its USB (Universal Serial Bus) or Ethernet port. The antenna sends and receives data from/to the Internet via the satellite, which orbits approximately 22,300 miles above the equator. The satellite then communicates with a hub facility, which has a direct connection to the Internet. You can also configure your system to receive satellite television service from a related network.
What are the benefits? You can receive high-speed Internet without the constraints or congestion of land-based telephone networks. Your download speeds can be up to ten times faster than dial-up service. Download speeds can reach up to 500kbps (kilobits per second), with upload speeds of 60 kbps! Your current modem/dial-up connection is probably giving you download speeds of only 20-40 kbps. You can also receive your TV programming through the same dish, giving you a choice of hundreds of channels!
What are the drawbacks? There are several problems related to satellite communications. With the Internet, the primary one is latency, or delay. There is an almost 94,000-mile, round-trip distance between your dish, the satellite, and the final receiver. Therefore, applications that depend on quick network responses ‚ like online action games (Quake, Unreal etc.) will not fare too well on satellite. Inclement weather, like heavy rains, can also seriously affect the quality of your connection. Anyone who currently uses a satellite dish for TV programming can relate to this.
What are the costs? As expected, any dealings with satellite transmissions are not very cheap. However, costs have come down significantly. In North America, equipment costs can range from $700 to $1000.00 (US), and access fees are $70.00 per month. Currently, the companies that offer these services concentrate on the continental United States, but are now expanding to Latin America and Europe.
For most of us in Belize, the initial equipment costs and monthly access fees may still keep this technology out of reach. However, for many small businesses, especially those in the Tourism Industry, these offerings may be just what they need to enhance their services! For the larger businesses, these can provide the connections they need for data services to the rest of the world. With our increased dependency on the Internet, and concerns about accessibility, Satellite Internet access is an exciting option for us to consider.
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