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How Satellite Internet Works

Satellite Internet works much like regular satellite television. About 22,000 miles above the Earth, your provider has placed a satellite, known as a "bird." This satellite is the key to your Internet connection.

Depending on whether you choose one-way or two-way service, the process is somewhat different but let's begin with the one-way process.

With one-way service, you use both a dial-up and a satellite modem. First, you connect to the Internet via your dial-up modem. When you click on a link to view a different Internet page, the process really begins. While normally your request would go directly to the web server, with Satellite Internet it is actually sent to your provider's Network Operations Center (NOC) and the NOC forwards the request to the web server.

The web server sends back the page to NOC which transmits it to the satellite which bounces it back to be picked up by the satellite dish mounted on your house. The data is then sent through the dish into the satellite modem, which translates it for your computer. The entire process from requesting the page to receiving the page takes no more than one-half of one second.

With two-way service, the process is the same except you no longer use a dial-up modem and instead have an always-on connection just as you would with Cable Internet or DSL.

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