the inmarsat I4 satellite sits in a geosynchronous orbit (meaning they stay in one place relative to the earth). each satellite can provide coverage for roughly 1/3 of the earth. the high altitude of the orbit, roughly 22,200 miles, causes high latency, around 1 second.
a rental package shown with a Hughes terminal and mac ibook along with some sort of phone system.
the more you spend on the terminal the more bells and whistles you get of course. You can get faster “guaranteed” bandwidth, up to 256Kbps for video conferencing type streaming needs. Built in RJ-11 phone jacks enabling direct phone connection as well as bluetooth phone headset options so you can go wireless for phone (or data for that matter). most seem to support standard network connections enabling you to connect a router or switch, etc. i thought this would be a nice option to even use for home use if the price were a little cheaper. the only limitation would be if one of us travel seperately the other is without a connection.
the launch of the last inmarsat I4 satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
in conclusion, i think this seems like the best option yet, but pricing will still be the barrier. this brings me back to the emerging technology problems i spoke of before. besides price, it’s pretty unclear how well the technology actually works. i’m sure it works for field reporters to upload the latest video piece to the main office in a pinch from the middle of nowhere, but i’m looking for practical day-to-day robustness. if i don’t find any better options, i will probably use this one on a rental basis for remote trips in places like nepal and bhutan. however, unless prices drop considerably, or a company like this wants to sponser my reviews of their products (offers welcome!), i don’t think i’ll be using this as a practical all around solution anytime soon. it’s looking more and more like i’m going to have to get a land based hard wired broadband solution once we get to korea, or if i’m lucky they will have some kind of korea based EVDO solution. but i fear that whatever i get there will only work there so i’d have to reinvest in hardware if i went somewhere else. finding information in english about korean broadband is a tough task, i think i may have to wait until we arrive. i just hope they have a solution at all, especially if we live on an island!