Wal-Mart Enters the Broadband Market

Just announced is the advent of Wal-Mart as seller of Internet access. It will be selling HughesNet, formerly known as DirecWay, a satellite provided method of access for those who have no choice other than dial-up.

HughesNet can provide broadband downloads for anyone who has access to the southern sky unimpeded, using geosynchronous satellites set up over 9 years ago.

Download speeds are better than dialup, but not equal to the DSL service that many enjoy at the lowest level of service (768kb/s). The service works well for those not worried about upload speed, as it is very slow, and has very large delays. This is not the service if you are a gamer. Ping times are horrendous.

It is not a good service for heavy downloaders either, as the service moves on what Hughes calls fair-use policy, meaning that if you use too much bandwidth for a length of time, your ‘pipe’ to the satellite will be throttled back for some time.

However, it is better than dialup for most, and though the price is heavy, many will bite the bullet of $70/ month access, and the heavy hardware investment to begin. These people can hope for WiMax or White Space services to save the day, but that will be in the future.

Actually it will be interesting to see how this plays in the heartland, where no cable or DSL access is available. Wal-Mart usually doesn’t make mistakes, but it will be interesting to see how refunds at the counter for satellite equipment are handled.

[tags] Wal-Mart, HughesNet, satellite Internet service, fair-use policy, dialup speeds, DirecWay [/tags]