Satellite Internet: The Bane of Modern Movie Buffs

We live out in a rural area where there is no access to cable, DSL, or WISP internet. Only satellite. While we have the best satellite internet provider available , HughesNet (trust me…we tried them all) we still suffer the pains inherent with satellite internet, which I will enumerate in an easily digestible bullet point list right here:

  • While the speeds are comparable to that of other high speed technologies, because the signal has to travel 20,000+ miles up into space instead of a few hundred miles to the nearest hub, the latency is significant. This isn’t really a noticeable thing for general web use, but it makes something like Skype virtually useless. Even VOiP services such as Vonage explicitly warn not to use their products with satellite internet because the latency is so bad.
  • Data is limited. We have the largest plan available with a monthly total of 100 gigs. However, that is split in half with 50 gigs being available during the day, and 50 gigs available in the dead of night when no self-respecting person should be awake. The only people awake at those hours are roaming the streets committing crimes.

That second bullet point is where the “bane of modern movie buffs” part comes into play. Unless you want to burn through your entire allotment of gigs in a few days, you cannot stream movies with services like Netflix, Amazon Video, Google Play, etc. What happens after you burn through your allotted 50 daytime gigs? Slowness. Slowness happens. Speed is throttled to the point of remaining useful for simple tasks, but not so much for fun or productivity stuff like YouTube, online gaming, music streaming, or downloading / uploading files over 100 MBs, etc.. But country-dwelling cinephiles don’t have to let these limitations stop them any longer. Here are two ways to get around this. Again, I’ll turn to my dear friend the bullet list:

  • Buy physical copies of movies. Yes, I know this seems obvious and backwards. How does buying physical DVDs discs come close to the ease of streaming movies online? I’ve been doing that since before the internet! The whole reason I want Netflix is so I don’t have to muck with discs! Well tie your shoes extra tight, because my buddy Mike Carpenter has put together a solution that will knock your socks off on his new blog Adventures in Home Networking. Essentially, what Mike’s been doing is devising a way to turn his massive DVD collection into his own movie streaming service. He does a great job of detailing his process, so I won’t sum the details up here. Go check it out immediately! Plus, surely you’ve noticed that every time you go to Walmart there’s a bin the size of an above ground swimming pool full of $5 DVDs. You know what? Sometimes there’s some damn good movies in there you can stock up on!
  • The second option is a relatively new service tailored just for satellite internet users called Nightshift. The concept is simple: the Nightshift internet router allows you to schedule Netflix movies to be downloaded and saved using those 50 gigs of data available only in the dead of night. Then, when you decided to watch one of those movies via Netflix during the day, the router intercepts the signal, stops it, and streams it from the downloaded copy on the router, thereby preserving your daytime data allowance.

I dare say, that for any serious movie buff, employing BOTH of these options would establish a variable Xanadu of cinematic enjoyment in your own home!