Broadband service provider iHug is beginning to make waves in regional Australia with its satellite connectivity, signing up its 50th ISP to resell its Ultra Satellite connection service.
Cobram-based Country NetLink in Victoria has itself been using the iHug satellite service for around 2 and a half years, but this is the company's first move into the consumer market. NetLink services the Goulburn and Murray Valleys and parts of North Eastern Victoria and the Southern Riverina of NSW. The company had been eagerly awaiting the provision of satellite services into the consumer market.
"I was actually quite surprised to hear we were the 50th ISP signed - I thought we would be the first, because we had been asking about the service for months," said NetLink's director of administration Archie Ellis.
The service is good news for many rural Internet users who often have to endure extremely slow connections via a conventional modem. Although uploading information remains a major hurdle for regional Australian users, the satellite service provides welcome relief from very narrow bandwidth.
"A lot of customers have such poor phone lines they have to slow their modems down," Ellis said. "Telstra is very unhelpful. There are lots of areas where Telstra technicians will actually admit the lines are bad, but won't do anything about it and in the end the clients suffer.
"We signed up some of our first clients to iHug because their traditional modem lines were so slow."
Satellite coverage elimates that problem to a great degree because users only send their requests down the phone line. The Ultra Satellite service is based on a satellite dish and a PCI card which sits in the customer's PC and receives data at high speed from the dish.
Ellis has been very pleased with the takeup since Country NetLink began reselling the service.
"We recently signed on a group of doctors in the area who often have to download x-ray images to make a diagnosis. This will let them download images that much faster, because when you are waiting 10 to 15 minutes for something to download like that, time is valuable."
The beauty of the service is customers have the full bandwidth available with no restrictions, he said.