Thursday, May 19, 2005

DirecWay: Broadband provider of last resort

If the intent of DirecWay is to be the broadband provider of last resort, then they are quite successful, since it is the worst broadband provider I've ever heard of. Normal download speed seems to be about 768 kbps. However, if you download more than 169 MB in a four-hour period, you get jacked down to about 32-48 kbps, slower than dial-up. If you think you might ever want to download an ISO image, stay away. Since it's a satellite service, you are subject to the basic laws of physics as they apply to geosynchronous satellites, which means, latency is terrible. It takes about a quarter of a second for your signal to reach a satellite in geosynchronous orbit, so this means to initiate a TCP connection, it takes 1.5 seconds: The TCP handshake is SYN, SYN ACK, ACK, and each packet must take a trip to the satellite then back to the base, or 6 trips total. It gets a lot worse if you are using SSL, since there is an SSL negotiation phase. This also makes it completely unusable for online gaming: In Quake 3 for example, this would amount to at least a 1000 ms ping. Any DSL or cable modem setup is better than DirecWay. A lot of dialup schemes are better, too.

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