FAQ: How Satellite Internet Works
Though HughesNet satellite Internet is powered by space-age technology, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand how it works. The process is actually quite simple.
Just like a ground-based Internet connection, such as DSL or cable, your computer is connected to a modem. This modem acts as a middleman between your computer and the Internet, interpreting what is being sent from your computer to the world and vice versa.
However, the difference between satellite Internet and terrestrial Internet connections lies in the means with which your modem communicates. Instead of an underground cable or a DSL phone line, with HughesNet satellite Internet you have a satellite dish.
Getting Online: How Your HughesNet Satellite Dish Sends and Receives Information
A request for a Web page is sent from your computer to a satellite about 22,000 miles out in space. At this altitude, the satellite’s period of rotation (24 hours) matches the Earth’s, and the satellite always remains in the same spot over the Earth (geosynchronous orbit). Because Internet via satellite is so technologically advanced, this distance hardly makes a difference, even with rural Internet connections.
The satellite in space then contacts the Hughes Network Operations Center (NOC) on the ground to find the requested site.
The Website beams the information back along the same path to the HughesNet Network Operations Center, then to the satellite, and then to your computer through your HughesNet dish and modem. Although the signal travels a great distance, there is only a fraction of a second delay during this transmission. This is similar to delay you may have experienced when using a cell phone. In most cases, this delay (latency) isn’t apparent while surfing online.
Once HughesNet has been professionally installed in your home, connecting to the Internet via satellite is simple!
Why This Works: The Science Behind the Technology
The Right Frequency
Satellites used specifically for Internet transmission are built to operate in the Ka-band mode, which has a range of 18.3-31 GHz. Within this range, frequencies can carry more data. This allows for faster speeds and higher-bandwidth applications, such as video clips, music, and large files, online.
Spot Beams Innovation
Because the Ka-band range is relatively small, “spot” beams were created to allow satellites to reuse bandwidth for different geographical locations. That means that spot beam satellites achieve higher capacity than normal satellites. In addition, performance improves due to the concentration of power on smaller geographical areas.
If satellites had their way, they would simply orbit around the Earth, much in the same way the Earth orbits the sun. However, a moving satellite beam isn’t very effective at sending and receiving information to and from a specific location on the ground – it needs a continuous line of sight over the same geographic area. That’s why scientists and engineers designed Internet satellites to remain still in relation to the rotation of the Earth – in geosynchronous orbit. Line of sight is maintained, and HughesNet is delivered to the home.
That’s how residents across the country can get blazing-fast HughesNet Gen5 service in their homes!