Not too long ago, I needed to implement some high-speed internet into a house, located in a remote area of Italy. The local DSL which barely reached the area was terrible, only offering a maximum of about 300Kb of upload speed and a few megs of download speed, and it was affected heavily by a full contention ratio which meant in the evenings, when all the local kids went online the speeds dropped dramatically.

So I decided to look at alternative options. The mobile offerings were too limiting with monthly traffic caps and so I found an advert for SkyDSL which is Broadband over satellite, it looked good, speeds were fast both upload and download, and no monthly traffic limits (At least that's what they said) the only thing I was worried about was the latency which would be quite high but since we were not looking to do online gaming or such it wasn't such a big issue.

SkyDSL cover the whole of Europe so this review should apply to those outside Italy also.

I ordered the best package and in a few weeks, a big box was delivered containing all the hardware and the dish that needed installing on the side of the house.

I was able to install the dish and configured it in a few hours however this was not my first rodeo as they say, and the manual really was not very helpful so I think unless you have some good IT and problem-solving skills (and good Google-fu etc) then the install process could be much to difficult for many. I was a little annoyed that even though I had installed everything and was able to access the SkyDSL online portal to activate proving it was working, but because they had not *added* my details yet to their systems I was unable to activate and get internet for an additional 2 days.

Eventually, I was online. Initial tests were great, very fast and I could stream Youtube no problem at high quality.

Things continued like this for a few days, I was testing the speeds as much as possible to make sure I was getting what I had paid for. Then suddenly on about the 4th-day speeds plummeted. It was literally unusable even during off-peak periods. I checked all my hardware, swapped back to the landline DSL (which I luckily still had installed) to make sure it wasn't me and eventually phoned their support to find out why everything had gone so slow.

They told me I had been put into a group of "high usage" users and the slow speeds were because of this. I was literally gobsmacked. No mention of anything like this on their website (Believe me I looked long and hard) and their plans prominently advertise "Flat Rate without data volume restrictions" which is what drew me to their offering.

Luckily I had purchased their most expensive plan which had a 30-day money-back guarantee, I told them to cancel the service and refund my money, they ignored me so eventually I raised a complaint with PayPal which they still ignored but because of this PayPal went in my favour so I got my money back anyway.

Once I had my money back they contacted me very quickly to arrange for me to send back their equipment at my cost. Again this is not my first rodeo and I informed them that I would not do that, and that under EU law they had to pay the return cost on what I considered mis-sold goods and that if they did not arrange to pick up their equipment within 30 days I would put it up for sale to cover the cost of storage.

Eventually, they conceded and arranged a courier to take the equipment away.

So, in conclusion, I would say if you are thinking of using then I would highly recommend against it. I was lucky, I purchased the only package with a 30-day money-back guarantee (Although remember kids these guarantees never override your consumer rights so don't take any BS) and also I had paid with PayPal which made it easier for me to file a complaint and get my money back.

You have been warned, do not use these cowboys.

Update (11/2020): So with Elon Musks StarLink currently in Beta for North America and initial test results seeming good, hopefully, StarLink and others like it that use near-earth satellite constellations will mean shady businesses like SkyDSL will die out quickly. I hope to install StarLink onto a sailboat in the near future and I'll have a review as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

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