A few weeks ago, I encountered the major downside of satellite Internet service: bandwidth restrictions. Apparently, it is common practice for satellite Internet providers to restrict the amount of data you can download and upload over your connection.
With WildBlue, the service for which I signed up, the restrictions occur on a rolling 30-day basis. With HughesNet, they occur on a rolling 24-hour basis. I’m not sure what other satellite providers are out there, but I’m sure they have similar restrictions.
My service plan restricts me to downloading 17,000 megabytes and uploading 5,000 megabytes within any 30-day period. Unfortunately, according to the terms of service, if you reach 80% of either of those limits, they cut your connection speed back to “128 kbps”. In reality, this apparently translates to a connection speed similar to the old 9,600 baud per second dial-up modems, possibly a 14.4 kbps modem connection. Regardless, the connection speed is so slow that 99% of the Web sites on the Internet time out before ever loading, and those that do load take up to ten minutes to do so.