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Tooway hoists satellite broadband to a rural-pleasing 20Mbps

The company's faster plans get you decent Internet speeds via satellite -- handy if you live in a rural area with no regular broadband.

Tooway -- the service that delivers a broadband connection via a satellite dish -- has boosted its Internet speeds to a pleasant 20Mbps, as well as dropping the price of its lowest broadband tariff.

Satellite broadband is handy for anyone who lives out in the countryside, beyond the reaches of wired broadband. According to Tooway, that's over 3 million households, who may find solace in the cold, metal embrace of broadband via space.

Tooway's new deals get you a maximum download of 20Mbps and 6Mbps max upload, unless you're on the cheapest tariff, which costs £20 per month and is capped at 2Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.

Signing up for the 'L' package (£40 per month) gets you unlimited 11pm-7am usage, while the monstrous 'Absolute' package will be the only way to get unlimited data during both night and day. You'll be paying around £75 per month for the privilege, however.

As Tooway sells its products via distributors, these are only guideline prices. I'd be surprised if any companies raised those costs, however, and was told by Tooway that there will probably be some deals floating around, so you may find even cheaper bargains.

Satel-light entertainment

The bad news is that on top of the monthly fee, you need to pay for the satellite dish that gets bolted onto the side of your house, and any other equipment. You'll be able to do this via a rental package, which should cost around £6 per month on top of your normal fees.

The good news is that you shouldn't find your speeds diminished. I spoke to Tooway's Steve Petrie, who told me that because the signal travels via satellite, you should get the 20Mbps you pay for. That's in stark contrast to most broadband services, which see customers scraping only a portion of their provider's touted speed.

I asked Petrie if traffic shaping was involved, and was told, "We do a little bit, but basically we leave it open for our users, it's an open-type system and we let them get on with it." Installation normally takes less than two weeks, I'm informed.

The speed boost and slightly more modest prices don't represent an aggressive attack on traditional broadband providers, Tooway told me. "We don't really need to go there," Petrie said, "We're looking to enable that 10 or so per cent, which is more than 3 million premises, with a quality broadband service. That market is more than enough for us."

4G future?

Satellite broadband is a handy -- if expensive -- option for country dwellers, but there's a chance the technology will be superseded by 4G when it becomes more widespread in the UK.

Like satellite broadband, it doesn't require cables, and offers a fast connection that impressed us in our speed tests. It might just be fast enough to function as your home broadband, though currently 4G is expensive, as EE is the only network to offer it. After the ongoing 4G auction we may see prices drop.

Would you consider satellite broadband, or are you happy with your current connection? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.