Satellite Internet: Can You Set It Up Yourself?
It can be mighty annoying living in an area where you can’t get ground-based broadband but be cheered – satellite Internet may now be an option for you. You’ve heard of kids in remote areas going to school by radio – well, now the Internet can be the saving grace for even more people in remote areas. Satellite Internet is an alternative to a “G” mobile Internet connection. Next G is a service offered by Telstra but it has limitations – satellite services extend the reach of the Web even further afield. What’s the catch? Having a satellite dish can be the biggest hurdle, but if you’ve already got one then you're half way there. But what if you have to buy a dish to get Internet? Are you up to the job of installing a satellite dish yourself or should you opt to get professional help?
Paying for a technician
When you order a satellite Internet connection, you have to consider the very large price of installation, often running into thousands of dollars. However, with the Federal Government's Broadband Connect scheme (now called Australian Broadband Guarantee), this is drastically reduced. In fact, you might not have to pay a set-up fee at all. (That could mean a saving of $2500 or more.) There are a couple of things you might want to pay for though: a site survey and a technician to travel to your property to put the dish up for you. These two options will ensure you have a good signal and the smoothest possible Internet connection. If the technician doesn’t have to travel too far the cost is probably worth it. However, if you are in an extremely remote area, the cents per kilometre charge of getting the technician out to you could add up to a small fortune. It is for this reason that some people choose to install the dish themselves.
In theory, all you need is a basic knowledge of geometry. To receive a transmission from space, your dish needs to be pointed in exactly the right direction. The satellite you will aim your dish at isn't huge, and it's certainly a long way off, so you need to be precise – one degree in the wrong direction and you won't get a very good signal. In fact, you might not get any signal at all. Numerous satellite Internet and TV providers offer set-up guides on their websites – ask your provider to print theirs off for you and send it out by snail mail. If you have the patience and some people to help you manoeuvre the thing then give it a go. It could save you a load of cash – and it will also be a very satisfying feeling when you finally get online. Be warned though – it can be a real hassle. If you can’t get it working then Plan B might be to call in the technician.
One more hint: read the instructions first! Before you attempt to set up your dish, do your research. For some helpful how-to guides, as well as your provider’s fact sheet, ask a friend or your regional library to do a Web search for “australia install satellite dish” and then print and post you the info they find. If you are a little bit handy, when you’ve digested all the info they’ve printed off for you may decide it’s not too hard a task after all… But do take the time to do the maths and find the right spot for it before you begin.
Sure, being in a remote area certainly has it’s downsides…but to make you feel better about having to do it yourself, you might like to put some of the money you’ll save towards a new computer with a big screen, speakers and sub-woofer so you can watch all those latest release DVDs you’ll be able to download. Once it’s up and you’re online you’ll be glad you did. Good luck!
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