Global satellite internet
This page links from Internet Connection While Traveling
Email responses concerning this issue and appearing in order of who responded to my emails first (around Mon, 19 Jan 2004):
Yes, I did get two e-mails.
Clouds will not stop you. Trees, rocks, and mountains will. In terms of storms, heavy electrical storms knock the signal out. I’ve lost signal for as long as 45 minutes at a time in severe thunderstorms. What may not be obvious is that this applies both to thunderstorms where you are, and thunderstorms at the other end. For us Hughes users, that means Germantown, Maryland. It is common to have short outages due to Maryland thunderstorms in the summer.
There is no worldwide internet 2-way satellite coverage. In Australia, for example, they have Hughes but one-way only (return is by landline). Hughes is prominent in North America and Europe; there should be compatibility of equipment in those places, but other places with different companies would require completely different equipment, and in many cases there would be nothing available.
The situation is a bit different for fixed dishes. A signal pointed at Europe is going to have some “spray” coverage into Africa, for example. If you want to put up a 15-foot dish, you might get a signal. Obviously not mobile.
For service in North America and Europe you probably won’t find a single supplier for both services, although possibly somebody like Ground Control or Skycasters would have a reciprocal arrangement with a supplier in Europe. You would have to be decommissioned and get a new billing ID on the European satellite.
There is no single satellite that will work in Seattle and also work in Mexico City, either. It would require decomm/recomm on a different satellite to go between those two places, although that could be handled through a single provider.
Thank you for your email. SpeedCast’s satellite broadband services using AsiaSat 2 and AsiaSat 4 satellites on C-band only cover the Asia Pacific area. Also, we do not provide our services to personal/home users i.e. we market our services to ISPs and enterprise customers in Asia only.
Such system costs around 12000-15000 Euro, depending on the configuration. Coverage zone please see attached. Is that suitable for your travel?
BusinessCom Internet via Satellite
4 Evagora Avenue, Nicosia, Republic of Cyprus
I received your recent request for information on Skycasters mobile high speed satellite powered internet service, and I’m writing to provide the information you had requested, as well as some additional information that answers the most common questions about our services. Skycasters is one of only 4 authorized direct resellers of the Hughes Direcway business edition product in the United States. Hughes Networks, a spin off of Hughes Aerospace, has well over 50 years in business and enjoys a stellar reputation as the world-wide leader in the satellite communications industry. Hughes provides reliable 2-way satellite services to many major US corporations, the US Government and customers in 80 countries. Our mobile equipment and service is designed for the non-profit, corporate, or government user, mobile command center, portable office, train or truck. Inside, there are two choices of hardware configuration, the Professional Mobile package and the Basic Mobile package. The Professional package gives a standard ethernet handoff to a hub, or connects directly to a PC via standard RJ-45. It’s speeds are rated at up to 128kbps upload x 400kbps download. It includes the dish, self deploying antennae, mounting hardware, cabling, installation, send & receive modems, and SNS gateway. The SNS gateway is a Intel-based hardware platform with ICSA firewall, router, remote administration, VPN support, system diagnostics, and all of the modem software. It will support any combination of PC, Mac or UNIX computers with or without a hub using a standard ethernet interface. It is available with one (1) public IP address. The Skycasters mobile 2 -Way Satellite system requires no cell phones or phone lines. If you can see the Southern Sky, you can have broadband Internet service. Just park the vehicle or trailer and use the system to automatically lock on to the satellite, then go to work live on the internet or VPN application of your choice. The Basic package has no router, no firewall, and a USB handoff, and requires that you provide a dedicated PC to host the Hughes software and the Antennae pointing software. This dedicated PC will be the only computer connected to the system that will see the full performance of the broadband connection. The Basic package is designed for the budget concious, single PC user. The Skycasters Mobile solution can not be operated while the vehicle in motion yet, it can only be operated on a vehicle that is stopped and fully stabilized. A fully mobile solution that you can use “on-the-move” is under development and will be subject to FCC approvals. What it does not do: Because of the asymmetrical nature of the service, it is not designed to support the on-site hosting of web sites or other applications which require a high-speed upload. It should not be used to support the “server” end of the typical client-server architecture where there are multiple remote clients. It is designed to be, and is, an excellent “client” solution. Upload speeds typically run between 30 and 60 kbps bursting to 128 when needed and when capacity is available. If you need to host a web site, we will be happy to provide hosting on our terrestrial servers at no additional charge. The Skycasters hardware is capable of speeds of up to 10 Mbps (10,000 Kbps), so no hardware changes will be required to upgrade as faster service plans become available. Service plans of 750 Kbps are now available with even faster speeds coming in the future. The one-time investment for the hardware, software, and configuration suppport of a Professional Mobile system is $5,390. The one-time investment for the hardware, software, and configuration support of a Basic system is $3,995. Professional installation of the unit is $700.00 Here is an explanation of what’s included in the Professional
.74 meter dish with automatic electrically-operated, self aiming vehicle antennae mount
Indoor transmit and receive units (appx. 6″ tall X 8″ deep X “3” wide)
Satellite Network Server (Intel, Win 2000 Pro operating system) – (appx.13″ x 13″ x 5″) Hughes software – installed Diagnostic software –
installed Remote access software – installed Router NAT Advanced NAT DHCP
Port Mapping ICSA certified firewall
Self-aiming antennae pointing software (screenshot)
Satellite Controller (appx. 1″h x 11″w x 9″)
And of course, professional installation on and in the vehicle
Monthly Internet access service fees depend upon download speed:
Level 1 (128 Kbps up, 400 Kbps down) with 5 supported* accounts is $109. per month Level 2 (128 Kbps up, 400 Kbps down) with 10 supported* accounts is $139. per month Level 3 (128 Kbps up, 750 Kbps down) with 25 supported* accounts is $239. per month * Router License & free email How does Skycasters compare with other Direcway resellers? Skycasters is the only facilities-based Direcway reseller. Skycasters owns and operates it’s own Hughes-manufactured Satellite Gateways, which are collocated in within the Hughes Network Operations Center (NOC). Skycasters owns and operates over $ 1 Million dollars worth of dedicated facilities including Gateways, routers, software and servers that are used to provide its advanced services. Skycasters has installed its core network components in a leased collocation space within the Hughes NOC in order to provide the highest possible level of service available over the Direcway system. Exclusive VPN Support Using its dedicated gateway and router facilities, Skycasters provides the only high-performance VPN-over-satellite solution available over the Direcway system. Special acceleration used by all satellite systems including Hughes renders standard end-to-end IPSec VPN solutions essentially inoperable. Skycasters solves this problem with it’s proprietary Cisco/Asita powered VPN solution over it’s private and dedicated satellite network and equipment. Skycasters can also provide FIPS-140 validated and HIPAA compliant client-server solutions, as well as inexpensive private satellite services using AT&T leased lines connected directly to the customers headquarters or data center. Engineering and Technical Support Skycasters engineering support is provided by in-house personnel who are highly trained Cisco, Asita and Microsoft Certified Engineers, and who are thoroughly trained on the Direcway hardware and software. Recognized as a highly competent engineering organization, Skycasters was selected by Hughes Network Systems to beta test it’s new DW4020 product. Skycasters has also been selected exclusively as the Hughes Global Direcway service partner, and provides all engineering support for the Hughes Global Direcway platform. Satellite Network Server (SNS) A Skycasters exclusive, the SNS is a proprietary hardware router and firewall engineered by Skycasters specifically for the Direcway system, and is manufactured exclusively for Skycasters. The SNS provides a host of features including security, remote administration, NAT and Advanced NAT routing, SNMP network management, increased performance, HTTP caching, DNS, SMTP and enhanced multi-user support. It provides a standard ethernet interface. Secure Data Center Unlike some others, Skycasters does not outsource it data center operations. Skycasters owns and operates its email, web and application servers located in a modern, secure state-of-the-art facility. All equipment, software and applications are operated exclusively by Skycasters engineers. All equipment is exclusively powered by redundant battery power plants, which are supported by redundant feeds to diverse power-company transformers, and further backed up by on-site diesel generators. Multiple connections to Tier-1 internet backbone providers ensure connectivity at all times. Security Skycasters provides internet security for its private network customers using Cisco and Asita IPSec 3DES encryption. A full-featured, fully configurable firewall is provided at the customers premises. Skycasters exclusively uses V-LAN and proprietary Policy Based Routing to ensure data integrity and privacy. No other Direcway provider can provide these services. Across the space-link, Skycasters uses Hughes DES-encrypted private network security in conjunction with ASIC-based hardware encryption and dynamic session-key technology. GSA Schedule Skycasters is the only Direcway reseller authorized to provide service over the Hughes Global GSA IDIQ contract. Skycasters has used this GSA contract to provide service to the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of representatives, National Weather Service, US Forrest Service and other U.S. Government customers. Who are Skycasters customers? Skycasters provides service to hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies, and to the U.S. government. Skycasters also provides service to state, county and city governments and hundreds of small business customers, non-profit organizations and universities Click here for a partial list of organizations who have selected Skycasters for their satellite internet and data needs. The Team Skycasters is a not marketing-focused entrepreneurial evolution from the consumer marketing industry like some of its competitors. Skycasters’ entire management and technical team comes exclusively from the internet, data, telco and communications engineering sector with deep experience in T-1, DS-3, Frame Relay, ATM, xDSL, ISDN and WAN/LAN technologies. With over 1,000 business satellite data and internet users, Skycasters has become the clear leader in technical proficiency among all Direcway resellers. Thanks again, Steve Hendricks – Sales Engineer satellite internet access Skycasters Satellite ISP| www.skycasters.com <https://www.skycasters.com/> 3500 Va Beach Blvd. | 6th Floor | Va Beach, VA 23452 o: 800.853.0434 ext. 7124 | fax: 309.214.6853 | email@example.com This electronic message transmission (including any attachments) may be protected by the client privilege and/or work product doctrine and contains information from Skycasters LLC. This information is privileged and confidential information intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above.
I have confirmed that we are expecting coverage in Europe and the Middle east within the next 60-90 days. Still awaiting to find out whether or not our mobile units will be able to be commisioned on those satellites. I’ll let you know as soon as I find out.
I hope that we can help, or at least point you in the right direction is we are not suitable. MailASail is an email service that I built in order to get maximum speed out of a satellite or other slow/expensive internet connection. Actually I personally use it mostly over GPRS where the tarrif is based on the amount of data downloaded, and our various tools save me a lot of money here.
I have sent you our FAQ document in a seperate email and there is some information on the website as well. Please bear in mind that most of our interested users are yachties, so that explanatory documentation is usually orientated with that slant, however, there is no reason why anyone should not find it quite useful.
Firstly you can access the system anywhere you can get internet access. So the main options are mobile phone, landline, satellite, etc to your laptop and internet cafes (via the webmail system).
Secondly we have a number of tools to help you deal with large attachments. I think that if you take the time to work out how these can work most effectively for you (or give us feedback so that we can customise something), then you will find these extremely useful. The default setup is to take any attachments from emails and just take the text out of the document. This vastly reduces the size of the email, yet at the same time you still get to read the gist of your message (perhaps losing a bit of formatting). The original message plus attachment is kept in a subfolder and you can get to it at a later date. This basically protects you against unexpected attachments. For attachments that you are expecting you have a second email address that you can ask the sender to use directly.
Our users find this a very good compromise and I don’t think we have ever had anyone call to say that their Inbox was clogged up with a huge message that they couldn’t download. In your case you are likely receiving far more attachments, and you may want to consider how you want this system customised. Remember that you never lose anything, it’s just a question of diverting to a subfolder for later retrieval.
The latest thing that is just coming online now is our email compression software. This is some optional software that you can install and it does two things. Firstly it compresses all the data as it crosses the internet between you and us. Secondly it sends and receives simultaneously, unlike Outlook which does things one by one.
To be honest I suggest that the best way to see if its suitable for you is take it for a trial. I’m happy to set you up with a test account, please just let me know your preferred email address: “@mailasail.com” and I will get an account setup ASAP.
In your case you most likely want to hide the mailasail connection and keep your business email address. This can be easily done in a number of ways, the easiest is to get your old email account forwarded to your MailASail address, and then simply set the reply address on your emails to be whatever you like. This way your correspondents will be pretty much unaware that you have involved us in your email process (and we don’t add useless adverts on your emails either).
Who are we?
MailASail is a specialist email system which has been designed to work as fast as possible over satellite and mobile connections? You should find it quite a bit faster than a normal POP account. Exactly how much faster depends on what sort of emails you receive.
What do I get?
a.. High Speed Email
b.. Web Mail (for use in the internet cafe)
c.. Text based Web Browsing (very fast)
d.. Web Diary (keep “those at home” up to date with what you are doing)
e.. Weather by Email f.. Great tech support!
How does it work?
1. Email is received by us and the first thing we always do is take a copy of the original message and keep it safe! 2. Next we convert the email to text only and remove a lot of extra padding from the email which is only useful for debugging purposes (you have probably never even seen this in your email program). This usually drops the size of the email to between 1/2 and 1/5 of the usual size, ie it should download between 2-5 times faster. 3. Once we have a plain text message we can send a notification of new email to your Iridium phone by SMS (or to a mobile phone if your phone provider offers an email to SMS service). We can also send the contents of the email as a series of SMS messages so that you can read your email immediately without even dialing up. 4. When you log into your email account, either with your email program or using the webmail, it is this smaller compact version of the original email that you pickup. A side-effect of converting everything to plain text is that it becomes virtually impossible to receive a virus!
What happens to attachments? (ie pictures, Word Documents, etc)
By default all attachments are removed from emails and converted to plain text where possible (so for example a word document will be converted to show just the words, which is MUCH smaller).
If you wish to receive an attachment then instead of using your normal email address: firstname.lastname@example.org – instead have the sender use the email address email@example.com (or firstname.lastname@example.org) – this will then bypass the attachment stripping stuff.
However, you should never loose anything – a copy of EVERY original email (including attachments) is stored for 30 days and you can get to it by logging into the webmail system and looking in the Archive folder (this is also a reasonable backup system for you as well!).
We think this is a very good way to handle attachments in email and most of our users don’t seem to find it particularly disruptive. It means that friends at home can still send you a Happy XMas message with pictures of the family, you can read the message immediately, and pop into a web cafe to view the pictures later (rather than spending 15-30 mins of airtime downloading everything, or not being able to see any of it)
SMS Text Messages (or Pager messages)
What happens is that whenever a new email is received here, we send you a text message with the sender, date and subject.
We then optionally send you a series of text messages, each containing part of the email email (because SMS messages over Iridium are limited to 120 characters each). We usually send up to 4 text messages showing the contents of each email, however, some users like to increase or decrease that number – please email me if you want to adjust how many SMS messages you receive for each email.
The webdiary is a useful way to maintain a webpage by email. All you need to do is email a new story to a special email address and it is added to your website exactly as it was sent to us. This means that you can easily use Outlook (or your favourite email program) to create a nice looking story complete with pictures, etc and we handle the publishing part.
There are a couple of reasons why this is useful. The entries are published in date order so if you are emailing regular updates then “those-at-home”, can keep an eye on how you are getting on, and you build up a log of your progress. Alternatively it is useful for avoiding the problem of sending out “updates” to friends and family, who then often hit “reply” and send the whole message back to you, with perhaps a few extra lines on the top – by publishing it on your webpage you can then send a short message to direct people to your personal webpage
You can see examples of how this is being used at
https://www.mailasail.com/webdiary – oops, deadlink now. Try surfing the site?
If you would like to start writing your own then please contact me for your passwords to get started. Can I have a trial and how long does the trial last?
Certainly – we think that the service sells itself, and as such we have no problem with letting you see what you are paying for.
The trial period runs until you are satisfied that the service works as expected. We don’t want you to pay for it if it isn’t what you want (however, so far most people seem to be happy to sign up). The next step for you is to trial the service and establish whether it is going to pay for itself in savings in airtime (and we think it should very easily do that). In general a week or two is reasonable – you can have more if needed, but I would prefer that you keep in touch and let us know how you are finding things. One of the advantages of being a small service is that we may be able to reconfigure things to suit YOU if there are problems.
How much does it cost?
MailASail charges in either sterling or USD. Our prices are as follows: Sterling: £14 / month – £140 / year USD: $20 / month – $200 / month
We believe that this is a small price to pay for an fast reliable email service, and we believe that you will save far more money than this in shorter phone calls.
“Redirecting” email from your current email account to MailASail
In order to assist testing it may be useful to have our server automatically download your email from your current email account?
There are instructions on our website in the “Configuration” section of the website on how to do this, but basically you need to write down the username/password and Mail Server Address (exactly as you have them entered into Outlook), you can then log into our webmail service – www.mailasail.com/webmail – and follow the “Options” link, then the “Personal Information” link and there are three boxes at the bottom of the screen where you can enter that same information. Our server will then download the contents of your other account every 5 mins or so – do check that you have your details entered perfectly (exactly as they are in Outlook) or nothing will happen!
Speeding up sending of email – Use Plain Text
Your email program can usually send emails in one of two formats, either “Rich Text/HTML” or “Plain Text”. On average you will likely find that “Plain Text” is about 1/5 of the size and hence transmits 5x faster. This means that generally you should try and send emails in “Plain Text” format!! The disadvantage of “Plain Text” is mainly that you can’t use fancy fonts or coloured text – most people are not going to miss this though
To change it for just the current email, in Outlook Express you simply go to the “Format” menu and choose which you want from the list. To change the default for all message go to Tools | Options and look on the “Send” tab.
Common Problems + Other Tips
I logged into my account via webmail and read my email, however, when I log in via Iridium it still downloads those messages? Outlook is a bit brain-dead and always downloads all the emails it finds in your INBOX – it doesn’t care if you read them in the internet cafe or not. It is the same INBOX folder that you read in the internet cafe that Outlook accesses, however, Outlook always deletes all email from the Inbox once it has retrieved it. You need to delete your messages in the webcafe if you don’t want Outlook to download them again
(Or you can save them to a “subfolder”, Outlook only knows about your folder called INBOX, nothing else)
I entered the details of my other email account into the webmail system, but it isn’t picking up my email? You have almost certainly entered the wrong details. You need to enter the username/password and server name exactly as you put them into your email program. Check the details in your email program against what you entered into the MailASail web page.
Apollo emulator would not go beyond initialise and kept timing out It appears that if you leave the flap of the phone open, exposing the number keypad, you cannot get a connection.
I have dialup using Apollo, but when I use Internet Explorer or Outlook it prompts me to dial the phone! This is the most common problem that people see. Windows has a number of options to control dialup, and by default the option is set to “Always dial my default connection”. Windows is offering to do exactly what you asked it to do!
To change the option, go into the Control Panel and double click on “Internet Options”. Under the tab marked “Connections”, change the option to “Dial whenever a network connection is not present”, or “Never dial a connection”.
However, if you choose the later make a mental not to remember where the option is in case you want to change it back when you get home and are on a normal landline!
I have a virus scanner, and uploading/downloading of email is quite slow Many virus scanners are a bit tricky and automatically update their virus definitions whenever they see that you have an internet connection. Obviously a virus scanner is only useful if the virus definitions are bang up to date, but you have to balance that against possibly a 10 min+ call to update them over Iridium. Chances are that the update is getting 1/3 of the way through each time you dial up and the effect is simply to slow down email send/rcv time.
I have a laptop onboard and I want to sail to hot places… Computers don’t like heat… Hard disks have about a 3 year life when kept indoors in cool climates such as the UK. Manufacturers usually quote 30C or 35C as the MAXIMUM ambient temperature for your laptop – probably most of you want go to places where that is the minimum ambient temperature found in the bar, and so your laptop is going to suffer. a.. Seriously consider carrying a spare, especially if you use it for navigation on semi-regular basis. b.. Back it up regularly (eg buy a CD burner, floppies become damaged too easily) c.. At least carry a spare hard-disk for your current laptop and make a complete copy of your current hard disk onto it. d.. Prop up the laptop on a book or something so that there is airflow underneath! How do I make things faster Downloads should also be quite fast if you are using Apollo. If you are dialing up using your own ISP and NOT using Apollo then you should check that your ISP supports compression (and that it is enabled). Compression will probably double the download speed of email (it is enable in Apollo automatically).
1.. Trim your replies so that you don’t send more text than you need to
2.. Ask other people to do the same. If you send around a circular, then state on the first line “WE HAVE A SATELLITE PHONE. PLEASE DON’T SEND THIS WHOLE EMAIL BACK TO ME!!” – otherwise you tend to get 30 replies each containing your orig message. 3.. Use plain text only. (Write to me if you are not sure how to make Outlook *send* in plain text) 4.. Make sure you have a strong signal before dialing
The Webmail is in English. Can I change this? Certainly. Most of our website is in english only, however, you can change the menus in the webmail to your own language if you prefer. Look under the “Options” link and then under the “Display Preferences” link.
Thank you for your interest in Iridium Satellite, LLC. Whether as an individual, a fleet, or a company, Iridium and our authorized Service Partners can package the communication solution to best fit your needs. I have included a general pricing list, product brochure and data overview for your review. Iridium satellite communication offers one flat rate for service worldwide as the only truly global satellite communications system. Please note: Iridium’s system is satellite only, and the phones must be used outdoors or be connected to an externally mounted antenna to transmit and receive either a voice and data call. Our cross-link and spot beam technology give the Iridium Satellite Network total coverage of the Earth.
Our constellation consists of 66 active satellites (and fourteen additional spares) covering every corner of the globe. There are currently only three countries that we are restricted from sending our signal into for licensing reasons: N. Korea, N. Sri Lanka and Poland.
As an Iridium voice subscriber, your phone performs double-duty as a voice communication and messaging device. The Iridium Satellite phone can send and receive up to 160 alphanumeric characters, in a single message. Once you turn your phone on and register with the Iridium satellite network, your new messages will be sent directly to your handset.
Since April 2001 Iridium subscribers have been able to receive SMS messages and now with the ability to send SMS messages, Iridium has a complete SMS service.
Direct Internet Data Service offers a feature that manages airtime by seamlessly connecting and disconnecting you through the Iridium system when no data is being transferred. This feature, called “spoofing”, will reduce airtime charges, improve the phone’s battery life, and seamlessly reconnect to the Iridium system if your connection is dropped. The data transfer rate is 10 Kbps, depending on content. (Graphics and images will result in lower throughput.)
To use Direct Internet Data Service, you must connect a PC to a data-capable Iridium phone, use a SIM card that is provisioned for data, and install the appropriate software on your computer with the use of our Data Kit. You can also connect to the internet via dial up. This service offers a data rate of up to 2.4 Kbps.
We are the wholesaler, our Service Partners are located worldwide and specialize in a variety of solutions. Requests for equipment and services are forwarded to the Service Partner based upon your need, location and product availability. Since we are a global company Service Partners and their dealers may be located in cities other than yours. When you are ready to purchase Iridium products and services, please provide us with your best contact phone number as we will be glad to have an appropriate Service Partner contact you. Iridium and our partners look forward to having the opportunity to work with you.
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We are a family operation managing private custom boat tours in the beautiful Palawan area, and are happy to help travelers with their plans through the Philippines, having traveled a lot of it ourselves and planning to visit it all. These pages in this section cover my various solo travels through Europe before meeting my wife.