Dorset RAYNET now has a satellite broadband capability in addition to the ability to deploy wide area voice communications. This means we can now provide any user service with up to 20Mbps Internet access at a single site in Dorset.
We use a system that provides Internet access through one of the Astra group of satellites, which are in orbit approximately 39000 kilometers above the earth’s surface. Satellites often provide a greater coverage area compared to 3G or 4G masts and fixed telephone lines. However, due to the sheer distance needed to communicate over, the latency times are much higher. By using satellites, we can theoretically provide Internet access anywhere across Europe!
In order to provide Internet access to you, we would need a small flat area, with vehicular access, where we can get a clear view of the sky towards the South East. After arriving on site, it usually takes 30 minutes to be fully operational with users logging in via Wi-Fi or using Cat5 cable. We will initially operate from battery but have the capability to either provide a small generator or can connect to a mains supply if you have one already.
Our Internet access is metered and has a direct cost to one of our members. The lowest usage tariff currently costs £7 per Gigabyte and this does not take into account the original equipment purchase or our volunteer’s time or expenses. As a completely voluntary organization, we are unable to directly charge for our services however donations are gratefully received to keep this a viable service.
We have conducted a number of trials and found that a 10Mbps connection is usually possible although it is affected by network usage, heavy rain and cloud. We are still in the early days of this capability but can be called out by any User Service, or organisation where we have a Memorandum of Understanding. As with many voluntary organisations, we are dependent on volunteers’ availability but are always keen to support as many events as possible.