Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Satellite broadband in Cambodia

This is our personal broadband satellite dish. It's how we get connected to the Internet at our home in Siem Reap.

We've decided to cut it off because we don't think it is worth what we pay for. We pay USD60 a month for 128 kbps through Camshin's IP Star. But when we read the fine print, it is not 128 kilo BYTES per second that we get, it is 128 kilo BITS per second. Given that one byte is 8 bits, what we get is significantly slower.

There are also problems inherent in satellite broadband. For one thing, weather can affect the signal. We had a few days when we lost signal for a few hours but you don't get a refund for this.

Another disadvantage is signal delay (called "high latency"). Wisegeek explains: "Every time a satellite broadband subscriber sends a command to fetch a Web page, the request must travel 22,300 miles (35,888 km) to a satellite in geostationary orbit. From there, the signal travels another 22,300 miles back to earth, to the satellite service provider, where it is routed to the internet, data is exchanged, and is then sent 22,300 miles back to the satellite. Once the satellite receives the information, the page data must travel the final 22,300 miles back to the user. The subscriber pays for that 89,200 mile (143,553 km) round trip for each request in delayed milliseconds. Some sources indicate the average latency is 500-700 ms. This unavoidable 'delay' makes satellite broadband a poor choice for activities like multiplayer online gaming." wiseGEEK

We were lucky to have got the dish installed for free, because Camshin now charges a deposit for the dish.

I don't know if we'll look for alternatives. Dial-up is out of the question and we can't get cable broadband Internet where we live. I'm so fed up paying high prices for crap connections. I may just use one of the cafes (I am also connected in the Bloom shop here).

I'll go check out Star-Cell, which was acquired by TeliaSonera, a Swedish-Finnish operator in September. They have a solar-powered site for satellite transmission. I hope this makes it cheaper. Reuters
08/21/08 For the first time, Ericsson has combined a GSM base station and satellite transmission in a solar-powered site, enabling Cambodian mobile operator Star-Cell to expand its network coverage in remote areas. The solution offers affordable communications for all and is based on Ericsson's energy-optimized main-remote base-station.

The satellite transmission feature provides affordable mobile-network coverage in remote areas where other transmission solutions are unavailable. This is vital for bridging the digital divide, as about 80 percent of the Cambodian population lives outside the main urban centers.

The GSM main-remote solution has a lower environmental impact than standard base stations, consuming up to 50 percent less energy, and helps lower total cost of ownership by reducing operating costs.

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