Does Antenna Size Matter ?

Is the choice for a small antenna a good one, or should you maybe get a larger one?

Is the choice for a small antenna a good one, or should you maybe get a larger one?

… and even though you might prefer the smallest possible satellite antenna you might have a different opinion after reading why the antenna size is REALLY important.

Power is Money

There are several ways to use satellite communications for internet connectivity yet there is a simple rule which is often not mentioned. The larger the antenna the lower the connection cost and the more coverage you will get.

Of course not everyone will have the possibility or the need to install a 100cm satellite antenna to occasionally check email but once you need ore bandwidth or better coverage a larger antenna might be the way to go. With larger antennas you can use the services of a wider variety of service providers, not limiting you to those who cater for small antennas.

What is small

The industry standard for data communication via satellite is pretty much set to 100cm. Anything below that can be considered small to ultra small.

As an example we will take a ship operating in the Mediterranean with a 60 cm antenna (60 contour) or a 100cm antenna (100 contour).

The smaller antenna will limit the region in which you can be connected. Once you are outside of the contour for your antenna it will no longer work. Keep in mind that when the weather becomes bad (e.g. heavy rain, which attenuates the signal strength) your coverage region will decrease even more.

If you are an occasional user and you use your internet connection for sending a few emails and limited browsing then you will most likely be quite happy with a smaller antenna. The airtime cost might be a bit higher but it will not justify the higher cost of a larger antenna.

However, if your yacht can accommodate many guests and requires a higher bandwidth to offer browsing, email, phone calls, YouTube, Facebook, video on demand, video chat, gaming, and other bandwidth hungry applications … for a multitude of connected devices, then the benefit of a larger antenna will quickly become obvious.

Let’s add some real life figures to that

If you have low speed requirements then you probably would not benefit much from a larger antenna.
E.g.: 60 cm antenna (cost €16.000) and 512 kbps down/128 kbps 1:10 on a 60 cm: €690 monthly vs a 100 cm antenna (cost €25.000) and 512 kbps down/128 kbps 1:10 on a 100 cm: €392 monthly.

In the above case the additional cost for the antenna does not outweigh the saving on the airtime.

However, once you require higher bandwidth the price difference in airtime becomes important. The initial benefit of saving on a lower cost antenna would in the example below be paid little over 3 months and you will have enjoyed a better service.
4096 kbps/1024 kbps 1:10 on a 60 cm: € 5.675
4096 kbps/1024 kbps 1:10 on a 100 cm: € 2.656
A difference of €3000 per month… you can do the math.

Conclusion

Next time you are thinking of the size of your antenna and which service provider to use … remember … Size Matters, and yes in this case Bigger is Better

Prices above are based on current prices but given as an indication only.