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Summary


Most DirecPC installations use a satellite link for the downloaded data and your computer's dialup modem for the "uplink" data.  This means that the limitations that apply to sharing a "one-way" or "telco-return" connection will also apply to sharing a DirecPC connection.  See this page for more info.

The DirecPC site has information on using Microsoft's ICS to share it.  You may be able to use the info to use a different sharing program, but keep in mind that not all sharing programs handle "telco-return" connections very well.

You've probably heard that two-way (no dialup modem "uplink") satellite broadband services are coming.  As this is written in early 2001, both Hughes/DirecPC and Starband are gearing up to offer these improved services.

Both companies are in the process of training installers and dealers, so it will be late Q1 2001 before ordering and installation becomes routine.  DirecPC has partnered with Pegasus, Earthlink, Juno, and DirecTV to distribute the product.  The hardware will run you $400, "standard" installation another $200, and the monthly charge is $70/month.

You can buy Starband's service direct through their Web site, or through "select" DISH dealers.  If you're feeling really flush with cash, you can also buy it through your local RadioShack.  That method gets you a Compaq PC with the satellite "modem" boards installed for about $1200.  MSN will be your "choice" for ISP at $60/month.

So, assuming you can wait until things settle down and everyone gets their act together (which we'd recommend), which one do you choose?  Both services will provide between 400-500kbps download and 125-150kbps uplink, slower than DSL or cable modem alternatives (yeah, we know your cable modem connection runs slower than that....).  Both use "receivers" that have a USB LAN connection (except for the Starband version that comes bundled with a Compaq PC!), so you won't be able to share the connection via a hardware router... at least not yet.  

Tip: Turns out that if you're willing to void your Starband warranty, you can get rid of the USB port and connect the Starband Model 180 to your LAN or router via Ethernet. See Ken Knight's Planet Bandwidth EtherME page for the step-by-step, including nice pictures!

Both are affected by stormy weather, and have "lag" or latency that will be guaranteed to make you lose in any fragging contests.

Since we haven't tested either system (and haven't had any offers from Hughes or Starband to do so either...), all we can do is direct you to other sources of useful info:

You can also check this recent PCWorld article.

Bob Cringely of PBS fame has taken the StarBand plunge and writes about it here and here.

Check out Scot Finnie's excellent reports on his experience with Starband. [Since the Winmag site has ceased operation, I'm making the emailed versions of his weekly newsletter available for reading]

Success Stories


These are user reports of what worked for them.  Please note that we can't answer any questions about them!

  • We have Wingate 4 (Deerfield.com) and DirecPC set up on our network with Windows 98 and Windows 2000 servers. I tried it with Wingate 3.5 and had problems, but as soon as I upgraded to Wingate 4 everything fell into place. We have the PCI DirecPC modem in a Win98 machine (we haven't tried the new drivers for Win 2000). We leave our connection on all day and usually don't have any problems!
    [Thanks to Paula Paschall.]


  • [Thnx to Vince Warde! for the following Tip!]

    I have had a great deal of success sharing my DirecPC connection using AnalogX Proxy. Here's my current setup:

    1) In AnalogX Proxy: Turn off the News Proxy - I simply haven't been able to figure out how to get it to work.

    2) On the DirecPC machine, in Internet Options/LAN Settings/ Uncheck the box "Use A Proxy Server". This disconnects the DirecPC Webcast Server, as well as auto dial up - but without this modification you won't be able to make a https (secure server) from the client machines. If you don't ever need to make https connections from the clients, skip this step and DirecPC will dial out on demand from the clients as well as from local applications.

    3) In DirecPC NAV application: Sending mail will be much quicker if you use DirecPCs SMTP server (mail.direcpc.com) instead of you ISPs SMTP server. To do this make sure that SMTP is not checked in DirecPC NAV/Turbo Internet Prosperities/Terrestrial and configure any locally used mail programs to send mail through mail.direcpc.com instead of your ISPs SMTP server. In AnalogX use mail.direcpc.com as the outgoing server for all the mail from the clients.

    4) This worked with my ISP - I don't know about yours! In DirecPC NAV/Turbo Internet Prosperities/Terrestrial uncheck DNS. This will cause DNS lookups to be done via the satellite instead of a landwire connection. Landwire is much slower because DirecPC must reconfigure to send or receive data via landwire (dialup). This causes a significant lag for both outgoing mail (hence the suggestion above) and DNS lookups. Getting DNS to work over the Satellite causes web pages to download MUCH faster.




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