Satellite Internet A Business Option As Cal Fires Rage


Satellite technology typically costs more and is a bit slower than cable or DSL Internet service, but it allows users to connect from remote locations where cable and DSL are not available, or in extreme conditions when cable and phone are knocked out -- such as the case with the California fires.

Thus far, businesses aren't scrambling to order satellite service as a result of the fires, but Satellite Family, a Laguna Niguel, Calif.-based reseller, said business could increase as a result of the fires.

"I think it will happen, but it's only been couple days since this disaster. [The fires] are not even 10 percent contained. People haven't even been able to go home yet, and even if people are able to get to their business, it's not something they're going to do just yet," said Ben Fauver, sales manager at Satellite Family, a Laguna Niguel, Calif.-based reseller of HughesNet satellite services from Hughes Network Systems.

Satellite family does not market satellite Internet service as a disaster recovery option, Fauver said. "There aren't enough people that would [buy] it to market that way, but it's definitely something people do," he said. "Typically, we [market] to people who can only get dial-up."

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The bulk of Satellite Family's revenue comes from residential customers, but the reseller also has many commercial customers, Fauver said.

Satellite Internet is typically more expensive than cable or DSL, but the gap is shrinking. Satellite packages start at $59.99 a month and the equipment costs about $399, Fauver said. Rebates and new-customer discounts are also available. Speeds exceed 20x to 30x dial-up service, he said.

Satellite service should be an option if telecommunications service won't be restored for days or possibly weeks, Fauver said. Because the fires are still raging in San Diego, Orange County and Malibu Counties, it's difficult to predict a long-term restoration plan, he said.

"It will be a while before they're able to fix DSL or cable service if it has been damaged," he said.