Byte Me Article 328 – Useful Internet for the Bush

22 July 2017

Latency Slows Bush Browsing

One of the topics that I have covered in detail is that of Internet connections.  However I have mostly been focusing on ‘town’ type connections in the form of ADSL or the more recent NBN connections.  So where does this leave our brothers in the bush?

Given the long distances from Telephone exchanges and the sparsity of the population once you get away from the coastal fringe, people in the bush have had less Internet options.  If you were not in your local town or very close to then satellite Internet or wireless Internet were the only options.

The ‘old style’ satellite connections have now been replaced by NBN Satellite connections but how good or bad are these?  From my research the new NBN Satellite connections offer some advantages over the original satellite connections but not all is good.  NBN Satellite can offer speeds as fast as 25/5 however there is more to how well a connection performs than outright download speeds.

With Internet connections there is also a specification called Latency – which is the time it takes for a signal to get from your PC to a web server.  This time which is measured in milliseconds is similar for the signal to ‘travel’ in either direction.  Commonly known in our industry as ‘ping’ times this has a large bearing on our browsing experience.

If you think of water from a shower rosette the download speed is the volume of water flowing from it whereas the ping time is the delay you experience when adjusting the hot and cold taps until you actually feel the difference in temperature.  Regardless of your download speed the Latency or signal delay time has a huge bearing on the usability of your connection.

Most Internet connections such as ADSL, 3G / 4G / 4GX and town NBN (VDSL) have ping times of around 20 milliseconds (ms) to 50 ms whereas Satellite connections have ping times of around 800 ms.  When you click on a web page there can be as many as 50 to 100 individual links that have to download to display the page.  Each one of these has to ‘tell’ the web server that they are successfully downloaded before the next one starts downloading.

So if you are ‘browsing’ the Internet via Satellite then regardless of your download speed it can appear as slow as because of ping times.  The result of all of this can be very pronounced and also a bit hit and miss.  Emails via a Satellite connection will run fine and downloading a file can work really well – but browsing from web page to web page can be agonisingly slow.

This Latency business is something that the Satellite NBN companies talk little about as they are chasing your monthly dollar.  However what we have found is that for many people in the bush a 4G / 4GX connection can appear 10 times faster than NBN Satellite with the caveat that these connection plans don’t traditionally offer large download quotas.

What I say to out of town customers is that if they can make a mobile phone call easily by standing on their roof – then a 4G / 4GX wireless broadband connection with the right roof mounted antenna and a ‘proper’ router makes way more sense.

We now have a large number of customers with the above setup that are far happier than their neighbours who often struggle with the latest NBN Satellite. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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