While cable and DSL broadband technology battle for supremacy in homes, new competition from satellites could remake the market just like they did television programming in the 1990s. WildBlue Communications’ first satellite was successfully launched on July 17, 2004 and the company plans to offer two-way broadband over a satellite dish in early 2005. At 1.5 Mbps download and 256 Kbps upload speeds, WildBlue’s service is competitive with both cable and DSL broadband.
Another advantage of WildBlue’s service is the availability of either DirecTV or DISH Network satellite TV over the same dish. Unlike cable and DSL, satellite service is available to anyone in the continental United States (as long as they have an unobstructed view of the southern sky to pick up the signal from the satellites) and should be popular with rural and small city residents.
The primary disadvantage to this option is the inherent latency of the signal from the satellite to the customer’s dish and back again. The delay is about a quarter of a second round trip, which is a problem for online gaming and voice-over-IP telephone calls.