Would you like free satellite broadband for a year?


Do you live in rural Britain and can't get a decent internet connection over ADSL? Satellite provider Tooway is offering to hook up 20 broadband 'not spots' with access to its 10Mbps service, completely free of charge for a year.

Competition entries must be submitted by a local council, but the equipment can be installed in any way the application sees fit. So if you've got a convincing case as to why your home, street, community centre or library should get a dish, you'll need to convince your democratically elected representatives of your argument first.

It's been a while since I looked at satellite broadband (unless you count a trip to Zambia last year), but on paper Tooway's service looks impressive. They're using the new KA-SAT satellite from Eutelsat which launched last year, and is enabling two way access at impressive headline speeds. The basic residential package will deliver up to 10Mbps download and a very healthy 4Mbps upstream. The latter figure is better than most Virgin fibre bundles , which are capped at 5Mbps for its fastest servcie.

The important thing is that KA-SAT is a lot cheaper than older satellite services. Tooway is available for less than £25 a month, although that is with a fairly tight 8GB cap, and the cheapest set-up charge I could find comes to £200 including purchase of the equipment.

I can't comment on the quality of service, which depends on line of site to the satellite and can be affected by extreme weather. Tooway says it's good for VoIP, video and IPTV, but not for twitch gaming. There's an inherent latency of around 250 milliseconds for data to go 36,000km into space and back, which works out to about 600-650 milliseconds once you've factored in communication with the base station at the other end and getting back onto the Earthbound network ring. Tooway tries to mitigate with a browser proxy and other acceleration tech, but I doubt even WoW would be playable with the extra lag.

If you're struggling to download games, patches and access the wealth of wonder that is PCGamer.com , however, it's an option worth investigating. Especially if you can get it for free.