480 Pro satellite service is compatible with Mac OS X and Mac OS 9, and is also compatible with an AirPort Base Station. Though it’s currently targeted to small businesses and telecommuters, eventually a residential version of the service will be available.
announced on July 30
that it would expand its satellite service across the U.S. and, finally, make it Mac compatible.
“All the Mac people out there have been patient with us in getting to this step,” Howard Lossing, StarBand’s vice president of sales and marketing, told MacCentral. “We will be rolling out a plan for residential customers. There’s no definite timetable yet, but it’s on our radar and we plan to get there.”
The StarBand system consists of a 24 by 36 inch satellite dish mounted on or near your home or business. The dish must have a clear unobstructed view of the southern sky. Two standard coaxial cables connect the satellite dish antenna to a computer or a StarBand satellite modem. The satellite modem has a four-port Ethernet router built into its back. Just plug your Mac into the back of the modem, establish the proxy settings, and you’re ready to go, Lossing said. And you can connect an AirPort Base Station to the satellite modem for wireless access.
The StarBand 480 Pro offers Internet service with peak download speeds of up to 1Mbps and upload speeds of up to 100Kbps. These speeds are better than previous versions of the StarBand service, Lossing said.
“The upload speed is better due to improved hardware and software,” he explained. “The upload speed of 100Kbps is possible in Turbo Mode, a special mode for large files.”
If large files are submitted that need significant bandwidth, the Star Band service will move them to a part of the network that’s uninterrupted for better speed. The move is invisible to end users, Lossing said. There’s no set numerical value to define how “large” a large file must be.
“Our system has the ability to be flexible and determine what ‘large’ is based on things such as file types,” Lossing said.”For instance, FTP files are usually large, while e-mails usually aren’t. But Turbo Mode isn’t tied to a specific file size.”
Additionally, a big step forward in StarBand 480 is putting a lot of “intelligence” into the modem that’s previously been dependent on software in your computer. And since the modem is Ethernet-based rather than USB based, there’s no need to install USB drivers.
“Installation is simplified and we expect networking to be easier, as well,” Lossing said.
StarBand satellite Internet access for a one-year contract is US$899.99 for the hardware and $149.99 per month. A two-year contract costs $599.99 for the hardware while the monthly fee remains the same. A three-year contract will cost you $599.99 for the hardware, but drops the monthly fee to $139.99. These prices include one static IP address. However, you can purchase an extra three for $19.99 per month.
StarBand also works with the Echo Dish Network to provide satellite TV access, but at an extra charge. Pricing for these fees is at the discretion of the authorized distribution partners. See the StarBand Web site for a list of such partners.