Whether you choose Tooway or Astra Connect, you have to decide on which monthly tariff you would like to subscribe to … there are different packages to choose from, so, occasional users of the internet pay a lot less than heavy users. Monthly tariffs are quota based, ie, the system measures the amount of data that you download and upload … an email uses very little data whereas downloading a movie uses quite a lot. Your monthly package has nothing to do with time … your satellite modem measures the amount of traffic passing through it, not the amount of time you’re connected to the internet
Most of us have no idea how much data is being used when we're on the internet, so here's a rough guide to help you decide on choosing a package. Don't worry if you make the wrong decision in choosing a package … if you're not sure, just choose one of the low packages as you can easily upgrade on the next working day. If you're with Big Dish Satellite and Europasat, you will know at any time exactly how much data you have used in your monthly plan. It’s impossible to accurately quantify what you are likely to download and upload in a monthly period … but here are some guidelines:
Light Browsing and Emails … around 2 GB per month.
If you just send and receive emails, do a bit of browsing, then you are likely to use around 2 GB a month. A simple email could be extremely light but if there are photos from the family wedding attached, that simple email could turn into a huge download depending on the number and file size of photos attached. A bit of browsing could be shopping, reading newspapers, banking, flight booking … anything that doesn’t involve moving video pictures or listening to audio.
Streaming Music, listening to radio … around 10 GB per month
You will have heard of Spotify and you will certainly have heard of BBC Radio … more of us are listening to music and audio via the internet. High Quality audio streams at around 256 Kb/s so could possibly use about 100 MB per hour … that’s around 1 GB for 10 hours.
TV and Film streaming … 20 to 40 GB per month
Both Tooway Domestic and Astra Connect will give you a UK IP address by default and that will instantly give you access to catch-up TV sites like the BBC iPlayer. Watching tv via the iPlayer can use around 700 MB per hour but it’s slightly more complex than that … in some circumstances, more data is used because sites like the iPlayer can detect the amount of bandwidth available and use it. One other thing to bear in mind is that continuous streaming will affect downloading speeds … that applies to all broadband connections, not just satellite.
Downloading Movies and Music … 40 GB per month minimum
HD quality films could be anything from 5 to 10 GB, so downloading an HD film twice a week could easily account for 40 GB in a month.
VoIP … around 40 GB per month
24 hours of call time from one VoIP phone to another roughly equals 2.4GB while video calling uses even more, about 30MB for every minute or 1.75GB an hour. Consider whether or not you need to look up the nose of the person you’re talking to … and switch the camera off (both of you!)
iPads and smart phones
Many of these devices have apps that are using data all the time, even when they are in standby. The phone is fast becoming the device of choice to watch tv on … even though that same tv programme could be available on satellite where there are no data implications. Also, be careful with storage applications like DropBox and the Cloud … both of those could easily run away with your data.
… and finally
When you’re choosing a tariff, bear in mind that some of the Tooway packages include an off-peak period during the night and you can schedule your big downloads to happen then for watching later. Astra Connect have an off-peak period called Freezone and that can be bolted on to all their packages.
Whether you choose Tooway or Astra Connect, you will have access to a meter which will tell you how much data you have used out of your monthly allowance … that’s available on your own Client Portal. If you have a computer or laptop, you can download a bit of free software called Bitmeter OS and that will measure your data traffic on the device it’s been downloaded on. There are similar apps for ipads, iphones and android devices … usually called Data Monitor and available on iTunes and Google Play.