The Satellite Mobility Support Network (SMSN) HughesNet ® User Guide will describe how to be a successful mobile HughesNet user. It is meant to be a single source of information for members, to successfully move and redeploy Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs).
This introductory chapter will provide an overview of the entire manual. The HughesNet environment will be described, along with the different components of a mobile system. Contact information for HughesNet will be provided and their policy for fair access of the shared bandwidth is also discussed. Several miscellaneous topics are covered.
I would like to thank my husband, Joe, for his assistance and support, and all of the members of the RV2WaySat Yahoo group, especially Terry Cannon, Dave Heibeck, Stan Miller, Glenn Simpson, Don Bradner, and Ron Ruward, for all of the expert advice and suggestions. Thanx for helping to make this User Guide a great resource for RVers traveling with two-way satellite dishes!
This user guide is available from MobileInternetSatellite.com and other Satellite Mobility Support Network (SMSN) dealers. This alliance of two-way satellite dealers is dedicated to providing RVers with satellite Internet and supporting them, so they stay online.
The transceiver receives and sends signals, to a satellite transponder in the sky. The satellite transponder receives and sends signals, to a ground station computer located at the HughesNet NOC (Network Operations Center). Each end user is interconnected with another computer at the NOC, via the satellite, forming a star topology. It is also called the Hub and Spokes topology. The computer at the NOC (the Hub ) controls the entire operation, for its portion of the network. For one end user to communicate with another, the transmission has to first go to the Hub, which then retransmits it (via the satellite) to the other end user's VSAT.
Setting up your account involves providing some information to the installer or dealer and selecting the service plan and options. The dealer will get a Site Account Number (SAN) and Personal Identification Number (PIN), which are needed to commission your modem.
The most commonly selected service plans use the standard .74 meter dish and a 1-watt transmitter. The lowest cost HughesNet service plan is the Home Service, which provides up to 700 Kbps down and 128 Kbps up for $59.99 per month. Another popular choice is the Pro plan. For $69.99 per month, it provides up to 1 Mbps down and 200 Kbps up. Then there is the ProPlus plan, which provides up to 1.5 Mbps down and 200 Kbps up, for $79.99 per month. You can also get a static IP address with the ProPlus plan, for another $10 per month. With all three plans you receive 5 email accounts. There is no service contract with used equipment. Extended service warranties, for on-site service, and dial-up access may be available.
Equipment costs are higher, but you receive the larger .98 meter dish and a 2-watt transmitter. The service plans cost $99.99 and $179.99 per month, for 1.5 Mbps and 2.0 Mbps down, 300 Kbps and 500 Kbps up, respectively. With this equipment you can extend coverage to much or all of Canada and/or Mexico, depending on satellite.
After you have provided the necessary information to set up your HughesNet account, your equipment will be ordered. You will need the HughesNet satellite equipment and mobility accessories to take your system on the road.
The satellite equipment is provided by Hughes Network Systems. This includes the DW7000 and HN7000S satellite modem, a .74 or .98 meter dish, and the feed arm, which holds the LNB and a 1- or 2-watt transmitter. Shown on the previous page is the latest HughesNet outdoor equipment, the metal Prodelin dish and feed arm.
The mobility kit includes all of the accessories you will need to move your satellite system to a new location and get back online. Items include at the least: a tripod and offset adapter, an elevation adjuster, a meter, a compass, a level, a method of attaching ballast, and cables. Some of these things are pictured on the previous page.
The original installation and commissioning is performed by a professional installer. It is also the responsibility of the original installer or dealer, to train the new mobile user in proper alignment and verification procedures, when moving the satellite dish. Receiving hands-on training is very important - it can make the difference between a stressful experience and enjoying your new system immediately.
For the commissioning of your modem, the installer/trainer must use the web interface of your modem and the Registration - Installer functions. After commissioning, Don Bradner’s DSSatTool provides an easier way to get your modem to communicate with the satellite from a new location. It is also uses fewer network resources. This is discussed in Chapter 2, Every Time You Move - Redeploying Your HughesNet VSAT.
The older dish, shown on the left with the TV attachment, is made of fiberglass, with an embedded wire mesh. It measures 0.74 meter in surface area (39” x 23”). The newer Raven dish is still .74 meter, but is rounder (34 1/4" x 28 1/2") and it is made of a lightweight metal. Often, when only referring to the dish, without the feed arm, the term reflector is used. The latest Prodelin dish was shown earlier.
Located on the fully assembled VSAT dish assembly, the Rx-Tx feed arm is normally removed and safely stored, as part of the process for moving to a new location. The feed arm consists of the feed support arm and the outdoor electronics.
All of the active outdoor components connect to the support arm, which also adds strength (and weight) to the completely assembled antenna. The outdoor electronics consist of the LNB, which receives outroute (from the NOC) Ku-band signals from the satellite, and the transmitter, which transmits inbound (to the NOC) Ku-band signals to the satellite. Power is supplied by the HughesNet satellite modem. For those who are interested, this is discussed in more detail, below.
The antenna receives the outbound signal in the Ku-band frequency, for input to the wave guide end of the LNB. The LNB first amplifies the input Ku-band signals. It then uses a local oscillator (LO), to frequency translate input signals to L-band frequencies, which are used on the coaxial cables.
The signal noise value is an electrical specification for the LNB, which is critical to outroute signal (your received signal) quality performance. The lower the noise figure, the better the signal quality performance will be.
The modem sends the inroute signal at an L-band frequency to the transmitter, using Sat-Out and the transmit coaxial cable. This signal is input to the transmitter, where it is frequency converted to the transmit Ku-band frequency, using a nominally fixed local oscillator (LO). This Ku-band signal is then power amplified to operate the transmitter at a nominal one-watt output power (at saturation). The fixed output power is input to the antenna, for transmission to the satellite.
Communications satellites send and receive electromagnetic Ku-band signals, which are in the super high-frequency range. Microwave phone signals, which are relayed between tall towers, are in this same frequency range. However, satellite Ku-band signals are usually not susceptible to interference from these towers.
The HughesNet Model DW6000, DW7000, or HN7000S modem supplies DC power to the LNB and the transmitter. It also transmits the inroute signal and receives the outroute signal. Both outroute (received) and inroute (transmitted) signals operate at L-band, between the modem and the outdoor electronics. The numbers in the illustration above indicate the order in which the lights come on, after a normal power reset. The DW6000 can no longer be commissioned.
This component is what connects the outside components (ODU) to the HughesNet satellite modem (IDU). The cables run from the antenna Rx-Tx feed arm, through the point of entry into the RV, to the modem. The IFL cables connect the LNB and transmitter to the modem. The IFL cables carry DC power supplied by the satellite modem, for the outdoor electronics. They also carry the L-band signals to/from the outdoor electronics and the modem. HughesNet requires dual RG-6 cable for this purpose.
There are different options available from MobileInternetSatellite.com and other Satellite Mobility Support Network (SMSN) dealers, for HughesNet VSAT systems. Each kit contains everything you need to properly set up and point (redeploy) your satellite dish.
T-Level - Attached to the mounting adapter, a T-Level makes it incredibly easy to get a plumb mast. Achieving a plumb mast is the key to properly pointing your dish, for optimum signal quality and minimum cross-pol. This is described in Chapter 2, See Every Time You Move - Redeploying Your HughesNet VSAT .
The items pictured are only representative of the actual kit components. In some cases, an item of equal or greater value may be substituted.
This section is very important. It presents and describes some things you should understand, in order to become skilled at properly pointing your HughesNet satellite dish. The following are discussed, as well as the methods used for measuring the relevant values, and why this is important:
TV satellites transmitting their signal to the earth have a large footprint. As long as you are in that footprint, it is a relatively easy task to aim towards the satellite and acquire the signal. Transmitting a signal back is a much more precise task.
Satellites in geostationary orbit, like the HughesNet satellites, are spaced approximately 45-50 miles apart. If you draw a straight line between your dish and the satellite, it will be about 22,300 miles long. If you move your dish even one degree off peak, the other end of your line will have wandered off target, by approximately 389 miles.
There is also the very real possibility that if your antenna is not pointed or aligned correctly, you could be firing a high frequency transmission to an adjacent satellite and potentially disrupting service to thousands of its users. This is referred to as Adjacent Satellite Interference (ASI).
A properly pointed antenna has the strongest possible received and transmitted signals (signal quality and co-pol, respectively). And, it creates the least possible interference for other users on the satellite (cross-pol).
The most important thing to remember is that a properly pointed antenna doesn’t waste bandwidth or interfere with your own or others’ transmissions. This means a better online experience for everyone. And, most important in properly pointing the antenna is minimizing the cross-pol or interfering signal.
The first thing to keep in mind when talking about linear polarization, is that the electric field's orientation describes the polarization. The electric field radiates off of, and is in the same plane, as the "radiating antenna" in the transmitter. The magnetic field is induced by, and is perpendicular to, the electric field. Also, remember that the antennas on the satellite are oriented with respect to the earth at it's meridian or line of longitude. So vertical for the satellite may be skewed from our point of view. These points also hold true for the LNB, only the inroute signal excites the "pickup antenna" in the LNB.
The transmit cross-polarization component can interfere or “disturb” the receiving co-polarization signal, and vice versa. These disturbances need to be kept to a minimum, by proper pointing of the dish. Every antenna has some parasitic cross-polarization. The goal is to have a cross-pol component that is as small, as possible.
Circular polarization is also shown, but is not used for HughesNet Ku-band services and will not be discussed further. Satellite TV and HughesNet Ka-band services use circular polarization. Ka-band services are spot-beamed and cannot be relocated without help from the HughesNet Network Operations Center (NOC).
After each move, the antenna is redeployed , by first making sure that the mast for the dish is plumb, with respect to gravity. Then, the skew, azimuth, and elevation are set on the antenna assembly, per the values provided by the HughesNet modem or DSSatTool.
After locating the satellite, the azimuth and elevation are then adjusted, with the help of an electronic pointing device, such as a OPI meter or a Birdog meter, to achieve the strongest possible received signal. If your mast is plumb AND you have optimized your receive signal, you are likely to also have an optimized co-pol signal and a minimized cross-pol.
HughesNet offers several options for help. The first place to start is with the self-service support web page. From this page you can access help files, the knowledge base, many quick links for commonly asked questions, or an online chat session.
HughesNet uses several different satellites and frequently changes the satellite and/or transponder assignment for new users. This is done for load balancing , which is an attempt to equally distribute users across the different transponders leased by HughesNet. Because satellites provide shared bandwidth , it is important to not assign too many users to the same transponder, or very poor performance and low speeds will result.
Some satellite assignments have exception states, or states in the lower 48 which aren’t within the coverage area for that satellite. When such a satellite is the current assignment, there will be a second satellite assigned to anyone in one of the exception states. For example, Satellite 99 W or G16 has a coverage hole in parts of Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. Anyone in those states who becomes a HughesNet subscriber when 99 W is the current assignment will be assigned to a different satellite.
With the HughesNet DW6000, DW7000, and HN7000S modems, you can directly connect a wireless router. However, HughesNet will not provide any support for networking issues. All that will be supported is a directly connected PC. If you need to call technical support, you may be asked to connect your PC directly to the modem.
There are many online user groups available. There are four, which are especially good sources of information for mobile two-way satellite users. The following user groups are discussed further in Chapter 3, Troubleshooting and Help Information :
The HughesNet antenna sends requests to the Internet and receives the requested content, via a Ku-band satellite in geostationary orbit approximately 22,300 miles above the equator. The antenna uses a low-power microwave signal, to send and receive. The satellite communicates with the HughesNet NOC, which is directly connected to the Internet.
Not when it is used properly. The strength of the microwave signal that the antenna uses to communicate with the satellite has been measured and these measurements show that there is no health risk in front of, beside, or behind the antenna. Only in the region between the feed horn and the reflector can the signal occasionally be strong enough that you should avoid placing any body part in that region, when the antenna is operating.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have safety standards for such devices, which specify a power density of up to 1 milliwatt per square centimeter (1 mW/cm2) of a person's body (averaged over 30 minutes for the general public; 6 minutes in occupational settings). According to the FCC, this power density limit is well below levels generally accepted as having the potential to cause adverse health effects.
The HughesNet antenna emits radio-frequency energy at levels below 1 mW/cm squared at all locations in front of, beside, and behind the antenna. In the region between the feed horn and the reflector, the signal strength exceeds 1 mW/cm2, when the antenna is transmitting data, though not when it receives data.
The HughesNet Satellite system is based on a shared bandwidth system. This means that all of its users share the bandwidth that is available. HughesNet has enacted a Fair Access Policy (FAP) to ensure an equitable sharing of this bandwidth.
"To ensure equal Internet access for all HughesNet subscribers, Hughes Network Systems maintains a running average Fair Access Policy (FAP). Fair Access establishes an equitable balance in Internet access across satellite broadband services by service plan for all HughesNet customers, regardless of their frequency of use or volume of traffic. To ensure this equity, customers may experience some temporary throughput limitations. HughesNet Internet access is not guaranteed. This policy applies to all service plans including “Unlimited” plans where customers’ use of the Service is not limited to a specific number of hours per month.
HughesNet system usage data indicates that approximately 5% of subscribers are responsible for a disproportionate share — often as much as half — of the total HughesNet service traffic. Unfortunately, many of those subscribers are not using HughesNet for its intended purpose. To ensure that all HughesNet subscribers have fair and equal access to the benefits of the satellite broadband service, HughesNet has enacted a Fair Access Policy to prevent abusive consumption of bandwidth by a handful of users.
FAP is straightforward: based on an analysis of usage data, Hughes Network Systems has established a HughesNet usage threshold well above the maximum typical usage rates. When a customer exhibits patterns of system usage which exceed that threshold for an extended period of time, the FAP may temporarily limit that subscriber’s throughput to ensure the integrity of the system for all HughesNet subscribers.Typically, the restrictions will be lifted within 8-12 hours of the original application of the FAP if the customer’s usage in this period stays below the FAP threshold.”
Each service also has a "refill" rate. This is the rate at which tokens are put back into the bucket. The bucket can never be more than full, so, even if you don't use the service for days, the bucket will never hold more than it's starting amount. Like a bucket full of water - the rest spills over the edge. If you use data at the exact rate as the bucket is refilled, the bucket would always be exactly full.
If you completely stop using bandwidth for 8 hours after you get FAPed, your bucket will then have 50 Kbps x 60 sec. x 60 min. x 8 hr. = 1,440,000 Kilobits => 1440000 / 8 = 180,000 Kilobytes in your bucket or 180 MB.
The upload bucket sizes are stated as 50 MB, 75 MB, and 100 MB, with an unknown recovery rate. In the past, HughesNet has not enforced an upload FAP. However, with the improved transmission capability of the new DW7000 systems, this may happen in the near future.
To check your current usage, go to http://customercare.myhughesnet.com and click on the Check Usage link, in the Resources section.