Auckland ISP Ihug is in line to provide the IP element of TVNZ subsidiary BCL's new digital microwave network--but is also considering using the same technology itself.
BCL has proposed using a terrestrial version of a US Internet access system called DirecPC, which employs a receiver dish for up to 400Kbit/s of inbound bandwidth and uses either an ISDN line or a 28.8Kbit/s modem as a back-channel.
In the US, where fewer than 10,000 people are using DirecPC, the service is exclusively delivered by satellite. BCL is confident it can be adapted to work with its microwave rebroadcasting system, but Ihug general manager Nick Wood confirms that he is investigating the costs of buying bandwidth from the same satellite which serves DirecPC customers in the US.
"We've been looking at using satellite for as much as 10Mbit/s of incoming traffic anyway, just because it's a much cheaper option, about 30% or 40% less," says Wood. "If you're only using satellite one-way, your delay times come down to 125 milliseconds, which might be acceptable.
"There are two bands available, and we'd be likely to go for the KU band, which requires 2m dishes, rather than 5m ones. The advantage would be being able to have direct entry points in each main centre. Obviously, it has limitations, but it's a one-way transmission which is like a LAN transmission--so you can have an 8Mbit/s transmission go everywhere and people just pick out the stuff that's theirs.
"I wouldn't even say it was likely yet, but within the year we'll be definitely trying something other than cable--and perhaps low earth orbit satellites will be the ultimate answer."